Alumni Spotlight: Morgan White

Name:
Morgan White

What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights?
2006, 2007, 2008, then I went on tour as a volunteer working the food truck in 2009

What section?
Soprano

Where did you attend high school?
Centennial High School , Bakersfield California and Douglas County High School, Castle Rock Colorado

Education beyond high school?
Bachelor’s of Science in Dietetics from University of Northern Colorado, Master’s of Science in Nutrition from Texas Woman’s University, Associates of Applied Science in Culinary Arts from Houston Community College

What is your current occupation?
Clinical Dietitian specializing in weight management and health promotion/disease prevent at the Michael E.DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston Texas

Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights?
I was lucky enough to attend Finals in 2004 and saw the Blue Knights perform for the first time. After that show I knew I had to audition. Ever since learning about drum corps my freshmen year of marching band I knew I wanted be involved. All of our techs had marched Santa Clara Vanguard so naturally they we’re my first choice. However, after hearing the signature Blue Knights “dark sound” and seeing their commitment to artistry,  I had a change of heart and knew that’s where I belonged.

What is your favorite drum corps memory?
It’s hard to choose there are so many! Something that always stuck with me is I always fell out of running block, everyday. I was never a great runner and running in a group caused me extreme anxiety which in turn made running block even harder. Even though I struggled and I was humilated, most of time sobbing as I watch the block get further and further ahead, a fellow Blue Knight always had my back, literally running (or shuffling in my case) behind me, encourage me to press on. To find such support is rare and I truly cherished it.

How have the Blue Knights impacted your life?
Becoming a Blue Knight was a dream come true, it showed me my dreams didn’t have to stay dreams, it gave the confidence to make my dreams realities. I never would have had the tenacity to complete a very competitive dietetic internship to become a dietitian, completed my Master’s thesis, attended culinary school, become a yoga teacher, or start my own business if it weren’t for first becoming a Blue Knight.

What are some the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?
“Thank you, you have a very nice drum corps.” This showed me that despite being competitive with others, being respectful should never be taken for granted. Blue Knights showed me to show up 100%, prepared, yet ready to “adapt and overcome” in every kind of situation.

What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?
Do it! If you are intimidated, don’t second guess yourself. Even if you don’t make the cut your first try you will learn and grow from the experience.

How would you like to see other Blue Knight alumni get involved in the organization?
I was really disappointed I wasn’t able to participate in the Alumni Corps this past summer (I was 9 months pregnant). I think this is a great way to bring Blue Knights past and present together. I would love to see more involvement from non-local alumni like myself, volunteering or attending shows when/if the corp rolls through. Houston/Texas area alumni, let’s get together and support our Blue Knights family!


∴ Want to be featured in a future Alumni Spotlight? Fill out the Alumni Update form here or email: Alumni@AscendPerformingArts.org

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Ken Adams

KEN ADAMS

Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold

MARK ARNOLD

Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor

SCOTT FACTOR

I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino

NEIL CORVINO

Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black

KATHY BLACK

Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin

BRYANT RANKIN

Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque

JANET ARCHIBEQUE

Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder

Rob BATCHELDER