Marshall music performance graduate featured at commencement

Persistence is key for nontraditional student who prevails after gap in education
| By Leah Payne
Marshall University Music Performance Graduate Sean Link performs at the university’s Winter Commencement Saturday, December 10, 2022.
Dive Deeper Learn more about Sean Link's story

There is a lot that can happen in the span of a few years, and you need to look no further than one of Marshall University’s newest graduates, Sean Link, for proof.

Sean Link with Professor Alexander Lee and accompanist Sara Lee at Link’s Senior Recital on November 15.

Following a nontraditional path to a college degree, the 31-year-old music performance major not only graduated this month after an eight-year hiatus, but he also took center stage performing the National Anthem and the university’s Alma Mater during the December commencement.

Initially enrolled in the fall of 2009, the Maryland native extended his expected graduation date multiple times before leaving school in December of 2013 without graduating.

“It’s such a tremendous opportunity to be selected for this (solo). It’s sort of surreal, performing for my own commencement. It’s something I didn’t even consider until recent talks with Dean Dobbs.”- Sean Link

“I did the traditional path as was laid out by my advisor, but really struggled with some classes,” Link said. “It was such a sad time for me…. but the experiences away from school really helped me and made me understand what I loved during my time at Marshall. I eventually made my way back.”

In the fall of 2021, Link reauditioned for a spot in Marshall’s School of Music and was accepted again, this time with a renewed focus to succeed. He credits his professors, fellow students and others for helping him with reentry to the program.

Link says his post-graduation plans include returning to his home state and pursuing a career in professional performance.

“I like romantic music, especially art songs in the German Lieder tradition or the French melody tradition. There’s something about them. The height of poetic expression is something that I always love to express in my singing and performance.”- Sean Link

“I anticipate keeping active in the music scene around the D.C. area and will probably audition for the opera companies and other opportunities,” Link said. “My ability to perform is something that I’ve always loved and will continue to love.”

Link, whose deep baritone voice allows him to sing a variety of selections, says performing on stage and eliciting responses from the audience is something that gives him great joy and drives him to do better.

Sean Link performs at the Concert of Soloists at Marshall University.

“I was overjoyed with the opportunity to perform at my own graduation,” Link said. “I’m not real nervous, only a bit anxious about how we will be moving on stage and whether I’m in the right position at the right time. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some real technical issues that have completely derailed performances before…”

Link had no reason to worry.

Marshall’s 2022 Winter Commencement successfully culminated Saturday with hundreds of graduates and their families in attendance, complete with an outstanding musical performance by a graduating vocalist who initially thought he’d never complete his degree.