Finding Patterns and Finishing Degrees

Scott Wenum 1500x400

Scott Wenum

“I heard a quote once about midlife and career changes. If you’re trying to make a decision about what to do next, look back at what you’ve done. You’ll see patterns. Once you notice the patterns, you’ll have an idea about what makes sense to pursue.”

For Scott Wenum, those patterns revolve around performance and teaching (a skill that he likens to its own kind of performance). Noticing that pattern led to his decision to enroll in the U of M’s Multidisciplinary Studies program to earn his bachelor’s degree with a goal of eventually teaching communications coursework himself. But before Wenum could arrive at this decision, he explored a few other pursuits.

Chasing Diverse Interests

Wenum began a bachelor’s program at the U of M in the 1990s. He studied mass communication and loved the material, but when an opportunity arose to go on tour with the band he was playing with at the time, he couldn’t turn it down.

He put his education on hold to pursue the dream of being a professional musician, which ultimately led to a move to Austin, Texas—epicenter for all things music. Here he continued to work as a musician, playing at the SXSW music festival and many other shows and events.

Years passed, and Wenum added many other accomplishments to his resume. He became a certified yoga instructor. He taught scuba diving, traveling to Southeast Asia and the Caribbean to do so. And all the while, he continued to work as a professional drummer, singer, and composer. Still, Wenum’s desire to finish his bachelor’s degree stayed with him over the years.

Moving Home to Minnesota

In 2015, Wenum was asked to play drums in a classic rock band based in the Twin Cities, MN. It was a chance to move back home, and also an opportunity to finish the education he’d started in his twenties. He and his wife decided to make the move.

“Once we got established, I started looking at how I could come back to the University,” Wenum says. “Looking at everything I’d done over the years, I saw a pattern that I pursued work that involved performance and interaction with groups of people. As I thought about what I’d study at the U and what I’d then do with that degree, I decided that I wanted to study communications again, and later teach it.”

He would begin this journey by earning his BA in Multidisciplinary Studies. This individualized program allowed Wenum to choose areas of study suited to his goals. After meeting with his adviser and discussing his options, Wenum chose to pursue communications, arts and humanities, and social sciences.

“I’ve received excellent guidance,” Wenum says. “My adviser was great, and so was the financial aid department. It’s really helpful to have people in place to help you navigate.”

Teacher Becomes the Student

Entering the University again as a Multidisciplinary Studies major, Wenum faced a few challenges, from time management to adjusting to being a student again.

“I’ve had to organize my time well because I still work and play music as I’m going to school,” Wenum says. “When the band goes on the road, the first thing I do is put in a pair of headphones and start doing homework. That’s been a challenge, but it’s good. You get into the routine.”

Getting into the routine has meant that Wenum enjoys classroom discussions, engaging with other students and professors. He says that the perspective he brings to his education now enriches the material and helps him to appreciate the experience of learning.

“Thinking about the Multidisciplinary Studies degree itself, I really like how it’s structured,” Wenum says. “There are identifiable themes within the degree, but within those themes, there’s room for liberal arts diversity. Given the current employment environment, I think this can really be a strength.”

Wenum is on track to graduate in the spring of 2018. After he graduates with his BA, he’s interested in either pursuing his master’s degree or seeking employment as a writing or communications instructor right away. It will come down to pursuing whatever opportunity is presented to him.


Scott Wenum is a recipient of the Nolte-Miller Scholarship, the Larson Scholarship, and the Osher Scholarship.