Songbooks, Textbooks, and Bookkeeping to Boot.
20 years, three albums, and thousands of miles later, Olivia West, a Nashville musician, sails to the top as a 100% online returning nontraditional student.
Olivia West is a 15-plus year veteran of professional music and a staple in Nashville’s scene. She plays guitar, ukulele and mandolin, sings, and writes songs. She’s recorded three albums, and a Christmas album is in the works. While the pandemic wreaked havoc on musicians around the world, she shifted and kept working. “Last year, my fiancé and I recorded a jingle which is on the air in NY and a song for an independent film. Licensing and livestreams were the only income sources for musicians last year after the quarantine…I am just glad to have those options and I took the opportunity to redirect my career goals.”
After she leaves her in-home recording studio for the day, she walks across the house, opens her laptop and logs into class. In addition to being a professional musician, Olivia is also a full-time student.
“I am in the College of Business studying Finance/Accounting.”
A Tale of Two Olivias
How to get paid to make music
There are two distinct sides to Olivia.
“One is a Rockstar. She loves the stage and the fans. She’s extremely creative. The other side of me is the reason she shows up to her gigs on time, signs contracts and sends invoices promptly, keeps track of her thousands of creative property rights and files her self-employment taxes correctly. “
It’s that other, non-Rockstar Olivia that is helping her thrive as a COB student.
Musical from the start
Originally from Harrisonville, MO, Olivia’s musical roots run back to childhood.
“I received my first paycheck at the age of 12 from the Truman Lake Opry in Tightwad, MO, where I sang 3 songs per show and clogged to the Orange Blossom special at the end of the night. I sang at all the Opries that Dad could find in MO and KS. That’s where I fell in love with the spotlight. ”When it was time to select a college, Missouri State (then SMSU) came to mind.
“My uncle and older cousin both attended SMSU. Uncle Bart was a center for the Bears, so I had attended many home games as a child. SMSU was the family school, so it was the first place I applied and was accepted as an Honors student in 1998.” University life did not go as planned. A medical and mental health emergency derailed her semester, and the Honor student decided she needed to leave school. The pause on academics brought her back to music.
“I moved to Nashville at the request of a major record label, but they quit calling me back after we reserved the U-Haul. I found my feet in the songwriting community and have made a living as an independent performing artist for the last 15+ years. I homeschooled my kids on the road as we toured America. I didn’t get famous, but it paid the bills, which was a serious accomplishment for a single mom without child support.”
From songbook to textbook
The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to all live performances. Olivia knew she needed to find something to focus on, and quick.
“I decided I wanted to finish college, and after decades of experience as a musician (which is just a form of small business) I was looking into degrees in business. As I was retrieving my transcripts, I learned that I could attend MSU online and they offered the majors I was interested in. That’s when I reapplied and became an extremely non-traditional returning student.”
She had some hurdles to overcome. Leaving school abruptly in 1999 caused problems with her records. As a nontraditional student, she contacted John Hall, an advisor in Adult Student Services.
“John Hall helped me find my way. He directed me to all the right forms to help me get rid of my academic suspension…This school has been so helpful. They have given me the opportunity to recover my inner-textbook worm. She was never hidden very far under the surface. “
Olivia has excelled as an online nontraditional student. She earned a scholarship from the College of Business. She is the 2022 recipient of the STAR Award’s Outstanding Non-Traditional Student Award
“The online learning experience has been fascinating. I miss being able to meet my teachers face to face, though I have had some great Zoom conferences and phone calls with several of them. I hope I get to meet all of my professors in real life eventually. Words can’t adequately express how grateful I am for the efforts of this university in extending their education services across the state line. It really is a joy to get the opportunity to earn my degree from the same place I had started it two decades ago. Despite the damage this pandemic has wrought, finishing something I had always regretted quitting is giving me a chance to heal. I can’t thank Missouri State and Adult Student Services enough.”
Find Olivia on her website.
Visit Missouri State Online to find information about the 100% online programs.
Want to learn more about Missouri State Outreach? Follow along on our blog.
- 2021 Certified Distance Educator Awards – second round - May 10, 2022
- Spotlight: Returning Student Olivia West - April 8, 2022
- Nominate an excellent online course for recognition - March 2, 2022
- Introducing Dr. Brandon Decker - February 16, 2022
- Spotlight: Dallas Hall - February 8, 2022
- West-Plains Outreach Counseling Cohort - January 19, 2022
- 2020 Certified Distance Educator Awards - November 10, 2021
- 2021 Certified Distance Educator Awards - November 2, 2021