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Student Spotlight: Laree McMurray
March 9, 2020

Laree McMurray has many talents. You may recognize her as a vocalist/instrumentalist with the college’s bluegrass band, High Lonesome Senate. She loves to draw and has been recognized nationally for her work.

You can often find Laree hanging out with her friends in the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex. Actually, the building is one of the reasons she’s at Walters State.

“I went to a small high school and we didn’t have art classes,” she explains.

“When I came on a campus tour with my sister Bethany, I was really taken in by all of the art in the Humanities Complex. That’s when I knew I wanted to major in art.”

Bethany McMurary, by the way, graduated and transferred to complete a bachelor’s degree. She’s now a social worker.

A studio art major, Laree’s drawings earned national recognition while she was in high school – even though her small high school did not offer art classes. The school also did not have a music program, but she picked up several instruments from her family.

“Music is a big part of my family. My dad and his brothers had a bluegrass group. I started fiddle lessons when I was five.”

Laree played music a lot growing up, but she never had the chance to be on stage until she tried out for High Lonesome Senate. With the encouragement of advisor Chippy McLain, dean of humanities, Laree has become comfortable in the spotlight.

“Being in the band has increased my confidence. I am naturally a shy person and the band has helped me come out of my shell. It’s not just on stage. I am also much more comfortable just having a conversation.”  

What’s the best thing about Walters State? For Laree, the answer is easy: faculty and staff members.

“I’ve  gotten to know many professors and they are all down-to-earth. They’ll do anything to help you,” she said.

Laree is on track to graduate in December. She plans to transfer to East Tennessee State University and complete her bachelor’s degree in art. She is considering teaching art at the high school level or working in graphic design.