Alumni Relations

Denice Beights

Denice (Kallmyer) Beights

Bachelor of Music Education - '94
Executive Director - Fort Wayne Children's Choir 


Q: How has your degree been beneficial to you and your career?
A: I studied music education with the end goal of being a high school band director. However, after being a band director, I found it wasn't a good fit for me. I LOVED being in the music field, but I was not suited to be in the classroom. While I was at IPFW I held leadership roles in Sigma Alpha Iota, the women's music fraternity, as well as Pi Beta Phi, women's fraternity on campus. In both organizations, I gained valuable skills in leadership which have helped me in the roles that have led me to the Children's Choir. At the Fort Wayne Children's Choir, I combine my love for and background in music with leadership. It's a good fit!!

Q: How did you become interested in your field?
A: My high school band director, Rick Smith, had the greatest influence on me pursuing music. He was a great teacher. He had a gentle spirit and a true passion for music. He also emphasized being the best you can be. He wasn't trying to create future musicians or music educators, but rather, but for us to leave high school and know that being mediocre wasn't good enough. I saw him working in music every day, and I knew I wanted to do that as well. I thought that meant being a band director, but learned that there are many paths - and I shouldn't be afraid to pursue them. In the end, my career is in music, but not as I had originally planned.

Q: What is the best career advice you were given?
A: A few pieces of advice come to mind: Make people feel important and feel valued. No matter how busy you are, stop what you are doing and listen to them. Make time to rest. Don't work all the time. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.

Q: Was there anyone during your time at IPFW who acted as a mentor to you?  If so, tell us about the relationship and why it was valuable.
A: I had several wonderful professors and teachers while at IPFW. Dr. Jim Ator was my saxophone teacher. He was also chair of the music department while I was at IPFW. He's a wonderful teacher. He's the kind of teacher who cares about the student first. He taught me a lot about the kind of person I wanted to be. He was always so busy, trying to lead the department and meet the needs of faculty and students, but once my lesson time began, he was present. It taught me a valuable lesson - make people feel that they are important - listen to them and be present with them. Dr. Barbara Resch was another professor that made a big impression on me. She had high expectations. However, they were attainable with hard work. She was always accessible. And she taught me that high expectations are important. People will rise to the occasion when asked. And she's right.

Q: What course(s) have you found to be most valuable in your professional life?
A: I took several music courses, and of course, those were all relevant to my profession. However, the course I took that was most influential, was Theatre Appreciation. It opened my eyes to a world with which I had no experience. I hadn't been exposed to musical theatre to that point in my life. The regular instructor for the course, Larry Life, was on sabbatical that semester, so Leslie Carmin filled in that semester. She was a HOOT! And, she opened my eyes to a genre I had never experienced. She made theatre come alive for me. And for that, I am so thankful.

Q: What would be your advice to someone who is considering IPFW (either as a new student or a returning adult)?
A: IPFW is a great place to start and attain your degree. The University is large enough to offer great programs, and small enough to give individualized attention. You won't be disappointed in your experience and your degree.

Q: What advice would you give to current IPFW students?
A: Stop. Look around. Don't be so busy walking to and from your car between classes. Get involved. It was the best thing I did. My best friends are ones I met by being involved in activities on campus. I learned so much about the leader I was to become - and had lots of opportunities to hone my skills.

Q: Do you have a favorite and/or funny story about your time at IPFW?
A: There are so many it's hard to tell just one. College has many challenges...studying, working, classes, extra curriculars. I remember spending so much time in the study rooms at the library, listening to excerpts for music lit and music history. Our study group just started to get punchy, and we would make up lyrics to songs so we could remember them. We would completely butcher a composer's name just so it was funny and we could remember it. We would spend hours and hours going over these songs, and all the time, it was fun. We made it fun. Those study sessions were GREAT! We just didn't take ourselves too seriously.

A: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments, both personally and professionally?
Q: Personally, my greatest accomplishments include being a wife and a mom. These are the two most important roles in my life. I met my husband through my friends at IPFW. Professionally, my greatest accomplishments include starting Walk a Mile In Her Shoes, an event to raise awareness and funds for the Women's Bureau, and to get the community to talk about, and start to prevent rape and sexual assault. I also include in my proudest accomplishments being a founding board member for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, being awarded the Future 40 Award in 2006, awarded the IPFW Alumni Citation Award in 2010, chairing the IPFW Alumni Association Board of Directors, and being named the Executive Director of the Fort Wayne Children's Choir.

Q: Where do you hope to be in ten years?
A: I hope to be right here, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, making a difference in this community. I love it here. And will continue to fight to make it a great place to live, work, and play.

Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I'd like to be remembered as someone who is fiercely passionate about her family and friends. Who doesn't settle for "good enough". Who is strong-willed, but willing to listen to other perspectives. Who always stands up for what's right. Who desired equality among all. And who loves diet Coke.