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Engineering and marching band: A match made in WVU

Jessica Hammersla, engineering student and drum major.

A love of marching bands and the desire to become an engineer led Martinsburg, West Virginia, native Jessica Hammersla to West Virginia University.

“The engineering college here is amazing and I always knew I wanted to be an engineering major, so, that was the first part of it,” Hammersla, a junior computer engineering and mathematics double major, said. “Secondly, I wanted to be in the Pride of West Virginia so badly and I knew I could do both of those things here. So, it was a really good way to keep my feet in both engineering and music.”

Upon graduating high school, Hammersla knew that giving up marching band wasn’t an option. During her senior year of high school, she auditioned for the marching band and landed a spot as a trombonist. After two consecutive years in the Mountaineer marching band, Hammersla auditioned for a drum major role. Now on game day, you can spot her on the podium at Mountaineer Field commanding the Pride of West Virginia.

“Sometimes I really miss playing, but when I’m up there on the podium and I’m able to hear over 300 people playing right at me and it just sounds awesome, I’m like, it was worth it,” Hammersla said.

As drum major, she is responsible for making sure the band is playing in unison, preparing the band members for rehearsal and serves as a liaison between the students and band staff.

“I was so excited and a little terrified during the first game because it is a lot. We do a lot of work within the stands as well,” she said. “We have to make sure that we’re playing at the right time because we don’t want to play while the football team is in play.”

On top of band practice four days a week, she is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the band service fraternity, vice president of Eta Kappa Nu, an organization dedicated to encouraging and recognizing excellence in electrical and computer engineering, is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, an international organization focused on helping women achieve their full potential in their careers as engineers and leaders, a member of the basketball pep band, a member of the concert band and is a Statler student ambassador.

When asked how she juggles all of her commitments, she noted that time management is a key to her success. “Making sure that you really know what you need to get done that day and always working ahead if possible, so, if you’re at the end of the day and you know you’ve done everything for that day, there is always something that you can do to give you a leg up for tomorrow,” she said.

“There are so many professors, advisers, and other students that want to help you when you have a problem in the Statler College,” Hammersla said. “Regardless if your questions seem way off the wall, or if you think that they wouldn’t be able to help you, there is always someone willing to help you figure out how to answer your question. I just love having that support system, it’s really nice.”

In the future, Hammersla hopes to continue her education and land a career as a programmer.



CONTACT: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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Phone: 304-293-4135