Viterbo Double Major Kylie Krahn Ends on a High Note

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Kylie Krahn

With a mental acuity for budgeting and money management, Kylie Krahn has always sought the best deals on purchases and to make smart financial decisions. So, she decided to apply the value principle of “buy one, get one” to her college education.

It wasn’t quite that simple, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but after four and a half years Krahn will graduate from Viterbo University Saturday, Dec. 16 with two degrees, a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and a Bachelor of Arts in music with an emphasis on piano performance. While this combination of academic achievement is unique, it was perfect for her.

Kylie Krahn piano at Viterbo

 “The piano has always been a part of me,” said Krahn, a Viroqua native with a passion for music who also plays the cello, flute, clarinet, harp, alto saxophone, and ukulele. “My mother was a bookkeeper, and I studied accounting in high school. I decided to take on the challenge of a double major.”

Challenging it was — not many classes overlap in the pursuit of accounting and music degrees. Rising very early in the morning and going to bed as late as she could, Krahn became very efficient in her use of time. It was also sometimes difficult to keep the two distinct fields separate in her mind, she said, sharing a humorous story about a piano lesson that wasn’t going well.

 “I kept thinking about meat film and if it was taxable or not,” Krahn said with a laugh, explaining that the question about the clear plastic wrap in the grocery store meat department was related to her accounting internship at Festival Foods. 

 “Fortunately, faculty helped me to compartmentalize and think of things in a different way.”

Kylie Krahn in Viterbo fall 2023 choir concert

(Fun fact: Meat film it is taxable if applied by hand, but not taxable if machine wrapped.)

 One of those faculty members was Mary Ellen Haupert, a professor of music in the Conservatory for the Performing Arts whom Krahn described as “more than a professor — a very close friend of mine who helped me on my journey with anything and everything.” Krahn was a student in Haupert’s music theory, music history, and arrangement classes and took one-on-one piano instruction from her for two years.

 “Kylie’s delightful personality and tremendous leadership skills will be missed,” Haupert said. “A great asset as a tutor for struggling piano students, Kylie consistently set a high standard for herself and was a role model for other students. It was an honor to be her teacher and witness her musical and intellectual growth these past four and a half years. She is a graduate who will make Viterbo proud.”

Always a high achiever and ambitious, Krahn graduated from Laurel High School, the charter high school of the School District of Viroqua. There she excelled at all things music, business, tennis, and in independent studies courses in Japanese, Spanish, and American Sign Language. Growing up she volunteered extensively, which included playing the piano weekly for the residents of Vernon Manor for nine years and working as an altar server each week at St. Mary’s Parish in Viroqua.

“I’ve always felt a big connection to my community and wanted to volunteer in some way,” she said. “I enjoy the action of service.”

Krahn chose Viterbo because of its proximity to her hometown, its Catholic affiliation, the more personal education she would receive, and connections to the university’s music program made through a lifetime of studying the piano. She received the Dean’s Scholarship, which is granted to students with a high school GPA of 3.8 or better, and the Music Scholarship, the Sister Marlene Weisenbeck Piano Scholarship, and the Premier Performance Piano Scholarship.

In addition to her very demanding academic schedule, Krahn works in the campus library, sings in the Concert Choir, and has continued to study American Sign Language and Spanish. The choir trip to Austria last Christmas break was one of her favorite experiences.

Kylie Krahn Festival Foods internship

Accounting internships at Festival Foods and Organic Valley not only gave her the chance to hone her accounting and other skills, but also allowed her to work in a field of significant interest to her—food and wellness. Krahn began as a music and nutrition and dietetics major her first semester before switching to accounting.

“Kylie is one of the most positive people I know, and she brings a lot of enthusiasm to whatever she does,” said John Robinson, Viterbo associate professor of accounting and finance. “Her positivity is wonderful to experience, especially in more difficult classes such as finance and accounting in which there is a lot of material to work through. She comes ready to learn and be helpful to others.

“Professionally, she has that rare combination of a strong work ethic, an aptitude for accounting, and great interpersonal skills,” Robinson continued. “Many students have one or two of those, but she has all three. She will be able to present her work to different constituent groups across the professional spectrum in a language they can understand. Kylie knows her stuff, and she is a great communicator.”

Krahn will have the opportunity to demonstrate those communication skills Saturday as she has the honor of delivering the student address at commencement. She will talk about lifelong learning and reflect on her educational journey.

One aspect of Krahn’s educational journey came full circle in June 2022 when she began teaching piano lessons at Reed Music Studios in Onalaska. She now has a dozen students ages 6 to 16.

After graduation Saturday, Krahn will continue with her paid internship at the Festival Foods support office in Onalaska. She hopes to accept a fulltime financial planning project position with Organic Valley later this spring.

 “I’m ready to go out into the world, but I’ll miss my friends, professors, classes, and learning,” Krahn said. “I’ll continue teaching piano, making connections, and using everything I learned at Viterbo to embrace new opportunities.”

Kylie Krahn (front and center) with 2023 Interns