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MCC Music Tech Students Give Voice to Veterans’ stories


Veteran’s Voices is a collection of original music pieces that give voice to the experiences of veterans and how serving their country has impacted their lives. It is the brainchild of Dr. Bill Withem and Debra Gibes. Withem wanted to challenge students in his Music Technology class to go outside their comfort zone for their final project. He also wanted to bring elements of service and experiential learning to the course – that’s where Gibes came in.

“I wanted to give my students a more relevant and powerful learning experience,” said Withem, Associate Professor of Music at MCC. “The assignment was to interview a service veteran, record a 30-minute interview, and then take that interview and create a four-minute song using the interview as the lyrics.” The goal was to produce a professional quality sound using a combination of music and voice, he added. The final songs range from several different styles, including gospel, classical, classic rock, and even sound design. The result is Veteran Voices.

Withem worked with Gibes, Director of Experiential Learning at Mott Community College (MCC), to incorporate the service and experiential learning components, and provide the voices – stories that often go untold.

“Some of the stories are warming, some are nostalgic, and some are painful; we didn't want to shy away from any veteran that had difficult experiences, but rather let them share their experience,” said Withem.

"This was an eye-opening experience, hearing the veterans' stories and being made aware of their situations. For the students, meeting these people who are outside of their daily lives, but still members of our community, really broadened their horizons," said Withem.

Withem also partnered with Graphic Design Program Coordinator Jim Shurter on the project. Shurter’s Graphic Design students took the finished music pieces and created original videos that interpret each of the stories, some involving animation while others involve filmed video. The styles of each student's video range wildly, creating a colorful and memorable accompaniment to the veterans' stories."

The finished pieces will be presented in a concert May 17 at 7 p.m. in the Mott Memorial Building Auditorium on the main campus in Flint. The event is free and open to the public.

Service Learning is a method of study in which students apply course concepts to the “real-world” through volunteer service within the Greater Flint Community. Meaningful service is paired with critical thinking and reflection to create a worthwhile experience and deeper learning of key course objectives.

Experiential Learning is learning through reflection on doing. It focuses on the individual’s experience, and is a way to connect academics to the “real world” by actively participating in the world, not just reading about it. Mott Community College is committed to supporting the development and integration of meaningful, active, hands-on experience for students as a method of meeting learning objectives and community needs.


Mott Community College is committed to excellence in education and offering services that cultivate student success and improve the overall quality of life in a multicultural community. With more than 100 academic and occupational degree programs, we help students prepare to achieve more in an ever-changing economy. Through university transfer agreements, high-demand associate's degree programs and one-year certification programs, we help ensure that all Mott students are ready to get more out of life.

As an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution, the College encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity in education, employment, all of its programs, and the use of its facilities. The College does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or practices on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, gender, national origin, veteran’s status, age, disability unrelated to an individual’s ability to perform adequately, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by law. Title IX Coordinator Contact Information: 1401 E. Court St., Prahl College Center (PCC-2030G), Flint, MI 48503, (810) 762-0024. Title II, ADA, Coordinator Contact Information: 1401 E. Court St., Curtice-Mott Complex (CM-1024), Flint, MI 48503, (810) 762-0373. Section 504 Coordinator Contact Information: 1401 E. Court St., Prahl College Center (PCC-1130), Flint, MI 48503, (810) 762-0191.

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May 15, 2019
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