Finely Tuned Movements

Boy playing the organ in the Trinity Chapel, Bethany Magazine

Photo by Benji Inniger

By Emeline Gullixson (’21) – Bethany Magazine, Spring/Summer 2023

When a student enrolls at Bethany, they expect to take interesting classes, be mentored by caring professors, and prepared for life beyond college—all in the light of a Christian framework. But sometimes, perhaps even more often than one might realize, they’ll take part in something new, unexpected, and beyond their normal routine or comfort zone. This is what a liberal arts education offers to Bethany students.

Jake Marzinske, a Class of 2023 graduate in exercise science, came to Bethany following several family members who’ve attended the College over the course of several decades. While he chose to attend Bethany because of his family connection and the Christian atmosphere, other experiences that interested Marzinske were continuing his successful track career and participating in band and choir at Bethany.

Marzinske competed in track at an elite level in high school at St. Croix Lutheran Academy. He continued that passion at Bethany where he qualified for the NCAA DIII National Championships in triple jump. His latest jump during the 2023 season put him at seventh place in the nation heading into the national meet. The trip to Nationals will be his third straight following an 11th place finish at last year’s championships. 

Two guys, Jake Marzinske and coach Michael Dunn, holding a trophy at NCAA DIII National Championships

Photo Courtesy of Michael Dunn 

Jake Marzinske (left) and his coach Michael Dunn at the NCAA DIII National Championships.

The track experience was the familiar one that carried over to Bethany for Marzinske, but what happened as the result of choosing a minor study of course was not so familiar–perhaps something even slightly out of the comfort zone for him. Marzinkse had always enjoyed music, and he’d played saxophone and piano for many years. This interest led him to choose music for his minor area of study, and with it came the requirement to take private music lessons. And while he probably could have chosen to continue with instruments he’s most familiar with, instead he chose to learn how to play the organ under the tutelage of Professor Mark DeGarmeux.

“For freshman or new students,
when you get to Bethany get involved and make connections right away. If something interests you, give it a try.”

– Jake Marzinske ’23

Marzinske said, “Honestly, I had no intentions of taking organ lessons or any music lessons at all. I decided to take organ lessons only by process of elimination, and I’m so glad that I did. I started taking lessons in the spring semester of my sophomore year. One of the main reasons that I chose organ was because I took piano lessons for eleven years and organ and piano are somewhat similar so I already had a start.”

But the advantage of a Bethany liberal arts experience is that it presents new explorations to students. And the best part of learning something new in this context is that you don’t have to do these things at an elite level to participate or learn. Anyone can pick up something new at Bethany, and many do.

Boy playing instrument, Jake Marzinske playing instrument

Photo by David Norris (’91) 

Marzinske also participated in concert band amongst his many other activities.

Marzinske continued, “I feel like a lot of high schoolers think that you can only join an activity in college if you’re super talented at it. There may be colleges like that, but Bethany is not. No matter what your skill level is in something, you can give it a try here. Take band for example. Lots of people think that they can’t join band because it’s college and they don’t play their instrument that much. This is completely false. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been in band for eight years or are new to it, you can always give it a try. This goes for other activities on campus too. For freshman or new students, when you get to Bethany get involved and make connections right away. If something interests you, give it a try.”

And “give it a try,” he did. Marzinske regularly played organ for Bethany’s daily chapel services throughout the school year, and this spring, he presented a full recital featuring pieces he’d learned during the course of his organ lessons.

Now, while his track and field career is coming to a close, Marzinske will take the competitive memories with him while planning to start a career and also continue playing the organ as much as possible.

Marzinske explained, “I definitely plan on continuing to play organ. It’ll mostly be for church services, but there also might be weddings and other things that I’ll play for. I might also continue taking lessons because I still need some work to improve.”

Bethany offers congratulations to Jake Marzinske on his graduation, a stellar track career, and for “jumping out of the comfort zone” and learning something more than what he envisioned before enrolling at Bethany.

Boy jumping at an athletic conference outdoor track and field championship

Photo by Destiny Synbounheuan

Marzinske was the conference champion in the triple jump at the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships.