Meet the spring 2024 CLAS commencement singers

Samantha Martin and Brandon Burkhardt will sing the National Anthem at the start of each ceremony. Both studied in the School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Friday, May 3, 2024

By Charlotte Brookins 

Graduates in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will enjoy vocal performances from peers with the singing of the National Anthem during two undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 11, 2024. Samantha Martin will perform during the 9 a.m. ceremony, and Brandon Burkhardt during the 1 p.m. ceremony. 

Meet the morning singer: Samantha Martin 

Samantha Martin, of Polk City, Iowa, is graduating with a degree in vocal performance on the pre-med track and will be singing the National Anthem during the 9 a.m. commencement ceremonySamantha Martin

“I’ve wanted to go to the University of Iowa since I decided to go into medicine,” says Martin. “I knew it was one of the best schools for medicine, and it was also in my home state, so I got to stay close to my family.” 

During her time at Iowa, Martin has been involved in a variety of university activities, including opera, volunteering at the hospital’s emergency department, and working as a lab assistant at the Molecular Otolaryngology and Renal Research Lab through University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Post-graduation, Martin hopes to pursue a career as a doctor while also continuing to sing in her free time. She has a piece of advice for anyone reading her story: 

“Never turn down the chance to do the thing you love.” 

Meet the afternoon singer: Brandon Burkhardt 

Brandon Burkhardt, from Coralville, Iowa, is graduating with a degree in vocal performance, music education, and musical theatre. He’ll have the chance to show off his singing abilities at the 1 p.m. CLAS commencement ceremonyBrandon Burkhardt

“I am so thrilled that I chose Iowa because they provided me with so many amazing opportunities while I was here,” Burkhardt says. “I’ve had the chance to study all of my passions and graduate with three different majors.” 

Burkhardt is deeply immersed in the world of fine arts at Iowa. In addition to leading the trumpet section of Hawkeye Marching Band, he was also a member of the premier choral ensemble Kantorei and starred in a variety of university productions.  

“My favorite roles at the university have been Nick Bottom in Something Rotten, Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore, and the soldier in Sunday in the Park with George,” says Burkhardt. “I would love to perform musical theatre right after college, but then move back to the area to teach music.” 

Burkhardt reflects on his time at Iowa and the myriad of people who played a part in his educational journey, saying they have played an instrumental role in guiding his future. 

“I am so grateful to every professor that I have had at Iowa for pushing me to grow as a musician, performer, educator, and student,” Burkhardt says. “Wherever my path takes me, I know I will continue to be involved in music every day of my life and will be thrilled for every opportunity I am given.” 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.