Student Spotlight on Brianna Suslovic
By Emily O'Brien
Assistant Features Editor
Photo By Sally Zheng
This year, Brianna Suslovic, junior at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, was presented with the prestigious Youth Musician of the Year award. The Syracuse Symphony Association gives this award to a high school musician every year. Most of the time, the recipient is a junior or a senior, who is typically involved in a wide variety of musical groups both inside and outside of school.
But what is it that makes Suslovic so busy? For one, it's her intense involvement in the musical world. Whether it's the individual practice of the bassoon, taking private lessons, or attending lengthy Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra weekend practices, Suslovic finds great passion in expanding her musical talents.
"I assume that they choose students who seem dedicated to music," says Suslovic. "Youth Musician of the Year is an award given to students that express interest, dedication, talent, and enthusiasm in music."
All of these characteristics are easily attributed to Suslovic. Every Sunday afternoon from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Suslovic attends a regular SSYO practice to go over difficult music in preparation for the four concerts the group gives each year, one of which is given alongside the Syracuse Symphony musicians.
"I love this group," says Suslovic, passionately. "SSYO is an awesome way for me to meet other kids who like music as much as I do. I think that it's really cool to practice and hang out with other musical teenagers. It motivates me to practice more on my own."
For most teenagers, spending a good portion of the afternoon working on ambitious music would be less than desirable. But Suslovic assures that the practices are not all hard work.
"We have a lot of fun and we joke around, too," says Suslovic. "We aren't all serious-there's a lot of laughing."
Aside from SSYO, Suslovic has 45 minutes of individual practice time each day, has lessons with Tony DeAngelis and Greg Quick, both professional bassoonists, and she has been a member of Concert Band ( a J-DHS musical group) and Allegro Youth Wind Ensemble, which is a musical group outside of school, since her freshman year.
When it comes to concert band, Suslovic's participation is greatly appreciated by J-DHS Band Director Ron Nuzzo. "Brianna is an outstanding bassoonist and an outstanding person. I love having her in band not only for her talent on the bassoon but her dedication to our ensembles," says Nuzzo. "She is always on task and always willing to help the band program. Her maturity abounds her playing."
However, Suslovic's accomplishments are not limited to music. Her time is also spent in numerous advanced classes like AP United States History and Honors Chemistry. She also participates in a variety of clubs/extracurricular activities.
"I created the J-DHS Book Club when I was a freshman," says Suslovic. "It's been going strong ever since, and I'm the president."
Suslovic is also involved with Model United Nations, which she joined freshman year and was secretary her sophomore year, and Spanish Club where she was treasurer since her freshman year. She was also involved with Young Democrats and Liberals, where she was co-president during her sophomore year.
"I'm just amazed at how she can take on so many extracurricular activities like book club and SSYO and still manage challenging AP classes," says J-DHS junior Reggie Coli. "I think she does wear herself out since she must miss out on sleep to do everything she does."
But there's more. Suslovic has also participated in Acceptance Coalition since her freshman year, Math Team of which she is captain of the Bad Asymptotes group, as well as Junior Pro Art which is a music appreciation group for teenagers outside of school in which she is the secretary. And the list goes on and on to include Teen Talk Radio, which she joined this year, and the Oak Hollow Woodwind Quintet- a quintet she founded herself which practices and performs outside of school. Suslovic is also a new member of the Spanish Honor Society.
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
"She's really caring and outgoing," says junior Carolyn Mooney. "She's really focused on school and other activities but she manages her time well and is extremely motivated." "She does everything!" laughs sophomore Holly Deng. "And she's good at it!"
Suslovic is currently taking Spanish Honors, Current Events, AP Language and Composition, Honors Chemistry, Concert Band, AP United States History and Honors Pre-calculus.
"It's definitely a struggle to balance work, but I'm really lucky to have teachers that make the work reasonable and understandable," says Suslovic. "I've had some late nights, but I've also gotten much better at managing stress. I've learned to let go of the small stuff."
In her free time, Suslovic enjoys teaching herself how to play piano, reading, writing, sleeping and hanging out with friends. She likes yoga and running, as well. But if it's one thing that Suslovic does not have large amounts of, it's free time.
While some people would find themselves over-stressed and exhausted by this workload, Suslovic sees it as necessary.
"I would go crazy if I weren't busy!" says Suslovic. "I'm the type of person who always needs to be occupied, so being busy is just a way to keep me happy." Despite her addiction to a busy schedule, Suslovic says she has learned her limits and gotten a better understanding of how much work she should or has time to take on.
Suslovic has found her motivation to pursue her workload and musical talents from her mother. According to Suslovic, her mother has been her main role model in life because she manages to work hard and still have fun at the same time which Suslovic says is "my ultimate goal in life."
Yet out of everything she does, Suslovic has a few accomplishments that mean the most to her.
Suslovic says that the 5 she received on the AP World History Exam and the 100 she got on her Spanish Regents sophomore year are some of her most notable accomplishments. Suslovic is also working to accomplish one major goal: to speak at graduation at the end of her senior year.
"I've gotten to know so many of my classmates over the past few years," says Suslovic, "I'd love to address them for the last time before we all move on."
While Suslovic is very proud of her various accomplishments, she also admits that there has been some regrets on the road of an overachiever.
Suslovic acknowledges that she has learned from her over-scheduling mistakes. "I have an awesome mom and younger brother who listen to my craziness when I get overloaded."
Suslovic describes herself as creative, crazy, unique, driven and energetic. She also gives some useful advice to underclassmen and students who are similar to herself.
"Find your passions. As cheesy as that sounds, I play music because I love it, not because I'm trying to please anyone or win any awards," says Suslovic. "Have balance in your life. Learn to just relax or distress at times. It's really important to enjoy the things that you're doing."