Love of learning leads alumna to Oxford University graduate school

Kendal Hocking ’17 with SPU professors Ronald and Catherine Haight in Oxford, England.

Kendal Hocking ’17 graduated from SPU with a degree in music. But what her degree won’t tell you is that along with organ lessons and classes on a wide range of musical topics, she also took classes in history, philosophy, Bible, and psychology.

Interested in many subjects, a liberal arts school like Seattle Pacific was where Hocking could truly follow her love of learning. “I encountered so many types of music and concepts I’d never heard of,” she said. “And while music has a special place in my life, a lot of my other classes were equally impactful and enriching.”

As the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Hocking blazed a trail. “I really enjoy academics and love to learn for the sake of learning,” she said.

When looking for the next step in her educational journey, one school interested her more than others: Oxford University in England, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Hocking secured a place in Oxford’s competitive Master of Studies in Musicology program, specializing in music degrees at Oxford in the 13th and early 14th centuries.

The one-year master’s program was intensive and challenging as Hocking spent hours researching in the historic libraries and immersing herself in Oxford’s academic culture. She also took Russian language classes.

“I am very fortunate to have studied there,” she said. “Oxford’s libraries are a thing of wonder, from their collections and resources, to the libraries themselves that each bear a history of their own.”

Kendal Hocking

Hocking names her professors at SPU as having the greatest influence on her academic and personal journey, recalling that Ronald Haight, director of music technology, and his wife Catherine, adjunct professor of voice, visited Hocking in Oxford.

“Of all the memories I made last year, my favorite SPU professors teaching me how to drive stick shift in the English countryside is the best,” said Hocking. “I am indebted to so many professors at SPU who helped me realize my creative and academic potential, and who also made me feel supported in applying myself to those potentials.”

“Kendal’s natural curiosity about music made her stand out as a student scholar,” said Ronald Haight. “Her ease of discussing various music subjects made for delightful exchanges with me and other students. She was not limited to just her likes and dislikes, but yearned to discover the richness in all music. All this carried over to many different subjects.”

After graduating from Oxford last June, Hocking completed a summer internship at Banasthali University in Rajasthan, India, teaching music, painting in the art department, and taking sitar lessons. Looking ahead, she plans on passing on her love of learning to future generations as a history and music teacher.

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