The only thing that appears to rival Mykiliah Thompson's love for singing and performance is her love for DePaul and the DePaul community.
Thompson, a senior majoring in Public Relations and Advertising with a minor in Italian Studies, is the founder and president of the DePaul a Capella group, Sounds of Harmony. Only in its second year, Thompson is surprised by how quickly the group has grown, and the number of performances they have scheduled.
Sounds of Harmony aims to inspire the youth of Chicago, specifically minorities and children of color, to include college in their plans for the future.
"I just love singing, and want to perform and this, combined with my connection to my faith and desire to serve, is what led me to form Sounds of Harmony," she says. "Even as someone who wanted to make a mark during her time at DePaul, but also do some good, I am surprised and feel blessed by the success of the group."
A transfer student, Thompson spent a year at Marquette University in Milwaukee before enrolling at DePaul.
"I'm from Milwaukee, and I was familiar with Marquette and applied," she says. "Even though I really wanted to go to DePaul, as most people know, there are a number of different considerations when choosing a college, and initially, that meant I was going to Marquette."
After transferring, she truly found her home at DePaul with Pastor Keith Baltimore and University Ministry.
"DePaul feels like a community to me. My most important connection to DePaul is Pastor Keith and University Ministry," Thompson says.
One of the first activities Thompson participated in when she joined DePaul was the Sankofa Fall Retreat. Led by Keith Baltimore, a protestant Christian minister in the Office of Religious Diversity, the Sankofa Black Student Formation program raises awareness and provides the opportunity for students of African descent to discuss and learn about cultural identity, leadership, spirituality and resilience.
"Although DePaul is diverse, it could be hard to meet other black students. I really found my community through Sankofa," Thompson says. The fall retreat is one of the organization's first big gatherings of the academic year.
Through this experience, Thompson also learned that Baltimore was in need of a student assistant.
"I reached out to Pastor Keith about a job opportunity, and he remembered me from the retreat," she says.
Baltimore invited Thompson to come in for a job interview, and he ultimately hired her. Two years later, when Thompson approached Baltimore with the idea for Sounds of Harmony, he was an early supporter and source of help.
Sounds of Harmony is the outcome of input from a number of university departments and staff.
"I had an idea, but wasn't sure if it was possible, and if it was, how to pursue it," Thompson says. "So many people helped me learn about the process and navigate the logistics. They were amazingly supportive and had so much confidence in me. They were rooting me on the entire time."
Through the process of establishing Sounds of Harmony, she discovered that University Ministry was a great help in many ways.
"I learned that I could go to University Ministry and get the counseling and guidance I needed," Thompson says. "I don't think many students really understand how much is available for them at DePaul."
She notes that college can be challenging, but no one has to go it alone. "University Ministry and University Counseling Services - all of these people are here to help students find success at DePaul, and more students should take advantage of it," she says.
Thompson plans to graduate this June and is currently focused on her classes and Sounds of Harmony. After she graduates from DePaul, she plans to move to New York and pursue a master's degree in music.
"I'm really interested in event planning, but I have really found my passion for singing, and would like to focus on that for a while," she says. With a degree from DePaul and some connections in the music industry, she's bound to find success.