New graduate returned to first love

Michael Little Graduation

Tarleton State University

Sunday, December 16, 2012

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—It took a while, but Michael Little, who graduated Dec. 15, learned a valuable life lesson during his years at Tarleton: Do what you love.

Little, 25, earned a bachelor of arts degree in music with a concentration in vocal studies. In his rich baritone voice, he sang the national anthem and Tarleton Color Song, the alma mater, at commencement ceremonies for the Colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Science and Technology before walking the stage himself later in the day.

A total of around 590 new graduates joined the ranks of Tarleton alumni Dec. 15.

“I come from a musical background and music has always been a part of my life,” Little said. “We’re a musical family. My father is a musician and my aunts and uncles are singers.”

But still, he added, he sort of resisted a musical life. “It kind of started in high school in Brownwood,” he said, “when my sister signed me up for choir, against my will. I ended up in all-state choir.”

It turned out that Little’s high school choir director was friends with Dr. Charles Rives, the longtime director of choirs at Tarleton before retiring earlier this year. “I met Dr. Rives at a music convention in San Antonio,” Little said, “and he was a really nice guy. Then later he and his wife went through a fast food drive-through where I was working in Brownwood. And he recognized me from the convention. The last thing he said to me was, ‘I hope you come to Tarleton.’ So I ended up here.”

But again, music wasn’t his first choice. He began college life as a psychology major, then left school for three years, part of which he spent in the Navy. When he returned, he thought finance would be a good major.

But one day, Little said, “I looked at job opportunities in those other fields and I knew I wouldn’t have liked them. So I decided to do something I could tolerate a little better.”

And that’s music. “It makes it easier to get up in the morning,” he said, adding that his ultimate goal is to pursue a career in musical theatre.

Rives said he’s “extremely proud of Michael and how much he's grown while at Tarleton, not only musically but as a person. I think if he hadn't come to Tarleton, I don't think he would have finished school and earned his degree. Tarleton was the right place for him and we became sort of a family for him—the music faculty, the students. He found and made good friends and discovered that music was something important in his life.

"One of the biggest moments during his studies was when he had a solo in the annual Messiah concert,” Rives added. “That was his first major public solo appearance and he did a great job.”

Dr. Troy Robertson, Tarleton’s director of choirs, said, “From the first time I met him, Michael really impressed me with his work ethic and dedication to his craft. And he has a really beautiful voice.”

Little said he’ll be moving to the Washington, D.C., area in a couple of months. He isn’t sure where life will take him, but he does know one thing: Music will never be far from his heart.


Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System

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New graduate returned to first love - Media Relations - Tarleton State University