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Third-Generation Blue Demon shares her love of music

Grace Ryan explores her experience connecting with community through music and mentorship

​​​​​​Student Grace Ryan next to a piano

Grace Ryan in the Holtschneider Performance Center's Brennan Recital Hall. (Keeton Holder/DePaul University)

Grace Ryan, School of Music
Degree: Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and Music Education​
Hometown: Bartlett, Illinois

What inspired you to pursue music?

I grew up doing a lot of dance, but my first ever musical was when I was in middle school. I completely fell in love with singing and performing, and I remember telling my parents when I was around 12 years old, “This is what I'm going to do.” 

From there, I fell in love with choral singing and being a part of my high school's choir. That led me to end up choosing to pursue classical voice. I didn't really get into opera until I started school at DePaul. It was kind of strange being immersed in that world during the pandemic because there were no performance opportunities. We studied it for almost three years without ever having actually performed any opera. It was confusing —​ I was wondering if this was the right path for me, but once we were able to come back and perform, I could see a lot more clearly that this was what I wanted to do.

What is your favorite memory of your time at DePaul?

One of my favorite memories was singing the national anthem at the Chicago Cubs game last year. It was such a full-circle moment. I’ve gone to Cubs games since I was a little girl, and being able to sing on such a wide scale to such a big crowd was really exciting.

I'd also say one of my other favorite memories was, weirdly enough, the day that we shut down due to COVID. That was my freshman year. We all just kind of spent the whole day together, and we have such fun pictures and memories from that day of our last classes. We didn't know it'd be so long until we’d be back. But it was a really fun send-off, and it was something that we always look back on. We look at our pictures and our Snapchat memories fondly as that goodbye.

How have you connected with the DePaul community?

I’m a tour guide, and I love giving tours to prospective families. It always reminds me of the reasons why I fell in love with DePaul. It's always really special to me, especially because I'm a third-generation Blue Demon. My grandma and my parents all went here. It’s a lot of fun to talk about that legacy and to share my favorite stories and memories on campus. 

I was also a Chicago Quarter Mentor for three years, and connecting with first-year students was one of my favorite parts of DePaul, especially in the School of Music. It's such a strange adjustment going from music being your hobby to it being your future job and your whole life. I really struggled my freshman year with that adjustment, and my own CQM helped me. Being that person for first-year music students was just really special. 

​Who do you look up to?

My whole family has been so supportive of everything. They have given me so much and sat front row for every choir concert, musical dance recital and college performance since I was a little girl. Having that love and support has really made it possible for me to be where I am today. 

I also have to mention my voice teacher, Scott Ramsay. He is one of the most incredible people on the planet. Not only is he a phenomenal artist, but he's also such a wonderful and kind human. He showed me what it's like to be a good colleague and a kind soul in this industry. I think we could use a lot more of that in the opera world, and he's such a wonderful example of that. He's a fantastic educator. He has made me so excited about being able to have my own voice studio and my own students one day. 

What are you doing next?

I'm going to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to work on my master's in voice performance. My goal is to be able to perform opera on a large scale. After my master's, my dream is to get into the Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera and then eventually have an opera career. Post-career I'd like to eventually settle down and pursue a doctorate and become a professor.​

Meet more of the class of 2024 here.