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Maegan Pollonais '12: Opera Singer in Tune with Music Program | SUNY Plattsburgh

Maegan Pollonais ’12 is making a name for herself as a mezzo-soprano opera singer. But that might not be the case had she not attended SUNY Plattsburgh.

“Funny enough, when I first came to America, I came here to study criminology and sociology,” she said during a recent visit to the college, made possible by an Alumni in the Classroom Experience (ACE) grant from the Plattsburgh College Foundation and the Plattsburgh Alumni Association.

Shortly after beginning her studies in Plattsburgh in 2008, however, the native of Trinidad and Tobago decided to audition for the college’s Concert Choir. Upon hearing her sing, Choral Director Jo Ellen Miano suggested Pollonais major in music.

“I remember calling my parents and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, I think I’m supposed to be a music major. I don’t know anything. I’ve never studied music,’” she recalled.

Still, her mother advised her to double major in sociology and music.

“So I did,” said Pollonais, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and music. “And I would say it prepared me quite well.”

As a student, she was awarded the Heisler Music Scholarship and took advantage of opportunities to perform with the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir and Champlain Valley Voices.

In fact, she credits her Plattsburgh Experience with helping her get into every master’s program she applied to.

“I don’t think I would have gotten into NYU (New York University), I don’t think I would have gotten into Northwestern (University), I don’t think I would have gotten into Bowling Green State University —  had I not been prepared here,” Pollonais said.

Ultimately, she chose to earn her master’s in vocal performance from Bowling Green State in Ohio, partly because the school offered her its Winifred O. Stone Presidential Graduate Scholarship. But even before learning of the award, Pollonais was attracted to the university because, she said, “it looked so much like Plattsburgh.”

As a graduate student, Pollonais performed in and assistant directed operatic productions at Bowling Green State. Among her other stage credits are:

  • The role of Marcellina in the Vancouver Summer Opera Studio’s production of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.”
  • The role of Third Lady in the Chicago Summer Opera’s production of “Die Zauberflöte."
  • The role of Dorabella in “Così fan tutte,” produced by the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (CMDFTT).

Additionally, Pollonais took first place in CMDFTT’s Voice Competition. In 2013 she was one of 32 people to be accepted to OperaWorks’ Emerging Young Artist Program in Los Angeles.

She is currently earning a doctorate in music with a concentration in educational psychology from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.

“I have a lot of passion for diversity and a passion for helping underrepresented people find their voices,” she said.

As part of her ACE visit, Pollonais gave a campus talk, “The Unapologetic Other,” on the importance of diversity in American society and appeared in Champlain Valley Voices’ performance of Handel’s “Messiah.”

She also attended a voice studio class in the college’s music department and hosted a meet and greet, at which she performed for members of the campus community and spoke about her educational journey.

“I am extremely grateful for being an alum of Plattsburgh,” she said.

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