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Q&A: Meet Eastman’s Students’ Association leaders

December 8, 2016
two students posing for a portraitDaniela Camilleri ’17 and Samantha Andrew ’17.

Daniela Camilleri ’17 and Samantha Andrew ’17 are the Eastman School of Music’s Students’ Association president and vice president, respectively. They were elected in a vote by students last spring, and will serve through the 2016–17 academic year.

The president is the chief administrator and representative of SA, and presides over all SA Council meetings. The vice president is responsible for group management, group creation, and the physical property of the Eastman Students’ Association.

Camilleri is a voice performance major from San Diego. Andrew, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, is pursuing dual degrees in violin performance at Eastman and molecular genetics on the River Campus.

How did you wind up at Eastman?

Camilleri: I’d heard about Eastman from one of my old teachers and thought I’d apply, but it was definitely a “reach” school for me. I really doubted I would get in. When I took the tour here, I realized how badly I wanted to get in. The facilities are incredible, and I immediately fell in love with the performance halls.

Andrew: Eastman was my reach school, too. I’d heard about it through my violin teacher back home and thought I’d apply just to see what would happen. When I got the letter inviting me up for a live audition, I was extremely excited. And as soon as I stepped onto the campus, I knew this is where I wanted to be.

Samantha Andrew

Samantha Andrew ’17.

When did the two of you meet?

Andrew: Dani and I met the day before Eastman freshman orientation started, and became best friends by that October.

What made you both decide to run for office?

Camilleri: Having worked with the orientation committee for two years, I developed a passion for student service. I got a job with Student Life where I was involved with planning student events. I wanted to be in a position where I could take student input and help make a difference.

Andrew: I also was on the orientation committee and enjoyed working to make the students’ experience better. Dani and I felt that after living here for three years, we had a fairly good idea of what was working well for students and what we could improve.

What was your platform?

Camilleri: To amplify the student voice by increasing contact between students and the administration. SA’s new structure consists of chair positions specifically delegated to individual areas of student affairs, such as dining, academics, and health and wellness. It’s a great opportunity for the student chairs to reach out to their peers and take student feedback back to faculty.

What do your jobs entail?

Camilleri: The SA Council members all have various positions and duties, which include coordinating meetings with students and faculty. As president, my job is mainly to see that these relationships are communicative and easy. We have tons of interaction with students, and since we’re a small student body [564 undergraduates], we pretty much see everyone all the time.

Andrew: As VP, my job is to assist the president in ensuring a smooth function of the council, oversee the student organizations, and facilitate the creation of new ones. I’d say that keeping up with emails takes up most of my time.

How did you get started in music?

Camilleri: I began singing when I was really little, and I had a passion for musical theater by elementary school. I was involved with the children’s chorus of the San Diego Opera and did a few productions with them. I remember being in Puccini’s La Bohème  and feeling such a deep connection with the music. I knew then that I wanted to sing opera. I shifted my focus from musical theater to classical voice midway through high school, which is what eventually brought me to Eastman.

Andrew: I started playing violin when I was six. In high school, I was the concertmistress for our orchestra and was selected for the All-State Symphony Orchestra four consecutive years. I’m in my second year as a member of the Eastman Philharmonia. We recently performed a concert with Renée Fleming ’83E (MM) in Kodak Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City. Both were sold out.

Sam, you are also pursuing a bachelor of science degree. When did you develop that interest?

Andrew: I’ve always been interested in science. In elementary school, I wanted to go to vet school. In middle school, I was torn between electrical engineering and robotics. And in high school, I decided I wanted to either study genetics or some field within computer science.

Daniela Camilleri

Daniela Camilleri ’17.

What’s your favorite course at Eastman so far, and why?

Camilleri: My favorite was a French class with Professor [Timothy] Scheie. He’s an incredible teacher, and cares deeply for the language and the success of his students.

Andrew: The third semester of Music History, taught by Professor Lisa Jakelski. She encouraged us to participate in meaningful discussions and not shy away from disagreeing with our peers. And we got to study some of my favorite composers and musicians from the 20th century.

Tell us about your families.

Camilleri: I have my mom and dad and two little sisters, Julia and Sophie. They’re my best friends, and probably one of the hardest parts about living so far from home.

Andrew: I’m an only child. My parents and I also have two bratty cats I feel compelled to mention.

Who is your musical idol?

Camilleri: I have to go with the cliché – Luciano Pavarotti. I’ve watched videos of him teaching as well as singing, and I’m so enamored with his passion.

Andrew: The two violinists who had a huge impact on me when I was younger are Itzhak Perlman and David Oistrakh. They both just had this incredible sound, and amazing dexterity on their instrument. Hearing them really fostered my love of the violin.

What’s something you always bring to school with you?

Camilleri: I always bring a couple of my favorite Neil Gaiman and Stephen King books with me.

Andrew: My camera. I love photography, and my parents got me a beautiful camera for my birthday a couple of years ago.

What are your hobbies?

Camilleri: I love watching movies and TV shows—anything to do with cops, lawyers, doctors, or superheroes. My most recent binge was How to Get Away with Murder. And I love video games.

Andrew: I like to read and watch Netflix, and I love going for walks and exploring new and interesting places.

Have you thought about life after Eastman?

Camilleri: I’ll take a year off to solidify some technique, then go to grad school. I’ll probably audition for Young Artist programs and opera choruses, anything that allows me to gain more experience. I’d really like to sing in opera houses around the world.

Andrew: I’ll still be here for another year, finishing up my science degree. After that, I want to get a master’s and possibly a doctoral degree, but I’m not sure which path I’ll follow. Right now, I’m just focusing on making it through one week at a time!

How can students reach you?

Camilleri: My email is

Andrew: My email is


Category: Student Life

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