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Secretary for the Music Department Works Behind the Scenes in Aven Hall
“Mrs. Serio is the glue and heart of our department. She’s over organizing most of the music department’s activities and keeping everything running fairly smoothly.”
Aven Hall is home to multiple majors and departments: Art, Music, and Communication. It is not rare to walk through the double doors of the lobby and hear a soprano rehearsing in a practice room, or the chords of a piano being played in the recital hall. For Dottie Serio, secretary for the Music Department, this is a daily experience. Serio first came to MC in 2010, making this her 13th academic year at the university.
Although her job description entails organizational and administrative duties, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Music Education. However, her passion was in Psychology, and after settling down to raise a family with her husband of now, 39 years, she graduated with a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from MC at the age of 37. She obtained the job with the help of the minister of music at Northside Baptist Church, where she has been the pianist for 35 years. After working in a psychiatric facility for 13 years, she confided in him that the stressful job was beginning to wear on her mentally. He suggested that she work in the music department at MC, and she had to admit, “I’m intrigued.”
Those who know her well ask if she misses working in therapy, but Serio’s 13 years in psychiatry satisfied her. “I like to joke that I left running a psychiatric facility to run the music department which is another kind of psychiatric facility,” Serio said. “It felt like coming home…it’s kind of neat because I have the music background.” She believes that her administrative job heavily involves helping others and building relationships. “I’m doing therapy on a daily basis in my office,” she joked. Students know that they are welcome to stop by her open office door for a word of advice or piece of candy from the jar of starburst on her desk.
Ambie McCoy, a vocal performance major, is one such student. She remembers meeting Serio when she visited MC in November of 2020, two months before she started attending classes. “Mrs. Serio is the glue and heart of our department. She’s over organizing most of the music department’s activities and keeping everything running fairly smoothly,” she said. “She’s truly amazing, and I feel blessed to have her in our department.”
Serio considers herself a true Clintonian, even though she grew up in Africa with her southern missionary parents until she was 17 years old. It was a culture shock then, but she loves living in the college town and living only a few miles from work. “I love an academic calendar. For 13 years, I worked Christmas Eve. It’s [academic schedule] bliss when you’ve worked in corporate America.”
One of her main goals is to make the environment of Aven’s Department of Music as welcoming as possible because she recognizes that becoming involved in music is one of the things that attracts both future and current students. She tries to aid the faculty so that they can work in what she calls “their sweet spot.”
“I can’t teach voice lessons… let me do all the support things to allow the faculty to work in the garden they have chosen,” she explained. She is impressed with their comradery and loves being around a younger generation. She also has advice for students maneuvering the path to their degree. “Part of what you’re doing when you go to college is dipping your toe in the water. What does the temperature feel like to you? If it doesn’t feel right, that’s not a failure. It’s just information.”
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