The performing arts helped a Marquette law student connect with Milwaukee

UPAF | July 16, 2019
Erik Gustafson
Erik Gustafson served as a UPAF Ambassador when his law firm, Borgelt, Peterson & Frauen, S.C. hosted a Workplace Giving Campaign this spring. 
Erik, an associate with the firm, has a strong affinity for the performing arts due to his extensive musical background. As a UPAF Ambassador, Erik internally coordinated activities and encouraged fellow employees to donate to UPAF!  
Erik credits the performing arts with helping him connect with fellow classmates and plant roots in Milwaukee while attending Marquette Law School. 
Read on for his inspiring story!
How did your love of the performing arts begin?
I grew up in Omaha and as a kid I always had an interest in playing the drums. However, my mother demanded that I learn how to play piano first which was probably the best introduction to reading music. I started piano lessons around 3rd grade, then began taking drum lessons in 6th grade when my school district offered its instrumental music program. I've been playing drums ever since!
Tell us about the start of your musical experiences?
Since I started taking lessons so young, I had a head start when I hit junior high and high school. Being involved in marching bands allowed me to tap my competitive side through graded competitions. I've always loved sports but I don't consider myself really athletic. Marching band allowed me to participate in something that I really enjoyed and excelled at!
For my undergrad, I went to Creighton University in Omaha and became very, very active in the pep band. This offered me what are absolutely the greatest memories of college! 
I had the privilege of traveling to every single basketball conference tournament for both the men's and women's teams, three men's NCAA tournament games and a NCAA volleyball tournament. Such an incredible time in my life!
How did participating in the performing arts help when you came to Marquette?
I was recruited to Marquette Law School on a scholarship. That first semester of my first year was very lonely for me. I had moved 500 miles from where I grew up and where all of my friends and family were. 
The reality was that I had a difficult time connecting with my law school classmates. During that first semester I started to question why I moved so far away and why I had turned down an even better scholarship to Creighton Law School! I considered transferring many times.
I joined the Marquette Pep Band and later that  fall when volleyball season began and the Pep Band went into full swing, I started to make solid friendships with my band mates. All of a sudden, I felt such a connection to Marquette and to Milwaukee. During my second and third year while still involved with the Pep Band, I started participating in more and more law school activities. This allowed me to connect with my law peers and absolutely fall in love with Milwaukee. Suffice to say, I am quite glad I didn't transfer!
Erik and the Marquette Pep Band
What are some other benefits you've received from the performing arts?
I really credit the Marquette band program with bridging that gap of not knowing anyone my first semester to becoming totally connected to Milwaukee and falling in love with this area.
In my law profession, I think being involved with music and band has given me confidence when I'm in front of a group of people. Having the experience of playing in front of an audience of tens of thousands on a regular basis where America's eyes are on basketball tournament play, makes speaking in front of a court room or any sort of group really easy.
Erik, thank you for sharing your story! 
And, our thanks also to Borgelt, Peterson & Frauen, S.C. 
for hosting a Workplace Giving Campaign to benefit UPAF.