All-around artist pulls double duty

If Portland State had to pick a poster child for success, Katie Harman would probably be a top candidate. Harman is a sophomore here at PSU, and is highly involved in the community, as well as academia.

Harman is currently double-majoring in speech communication and music. She performs, studies with scientists and doctors and competes in beauty contests.

Well-rounded is an understatement.

The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. was Harman’s first college experience. For her freshman year, she absorbed information in the small school atmosphere. Then, everything changed in 2000.

Harman won The Miss Multnomah County Contest and eventually became first runner-up in the Miss Oregon Contest. Runner-up status meant memories and prestige, but also a full-tuition scholarship to the Oregon school of her choice. Harman picked PSU. “When I came to PSU, I didn’t expect a small-school atmosphere, but I got it.”

Since attending PSU, Harman has involved herself in the music department, taking on the major’s rigorous curriculum and performance schedule.

Harman was last seen onstage at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for the Young Artists’ Concert on Friday, April 13. To be selected for this concert, she had to pass a very picky and rigorous audition process. Then, after weeks of work with Maestro Neil DePont, she performed a few solo pieces and a duet. The Oregonian gave her performance a positive review.

These days, Harman is working for another big performance; the PSU opera department’s production of “The Magic Flute.”

In the opera, Harman plays one of the three meddlesome spirit characters. Because of the time commitment, Harman had to put her job at The Gap in Gresham on hold. This week, Harman will be in rehearsal every day from 6:30 p.m. to at least 10:00 p.m. The intense rehearsal schedule is in preparation for the May 4 opening night.

In a different kind of performance, Harman was just recently crowned Miss Portland 2001, which will once again send her to the Miss Oregon Competition. After a year of strategizing and planning, Harman is shooting to win the state title this year. If she pulls it off, that would take her to the Miss America Competition.

Dreaming about what it would be like to win Miss America, Harman said, “I would love it.” She said that she’s seen all the funny spoof pageant movies, such as “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and “Miss Congeniality,” so she knows what not to expect.

Pageant girls have been known talk about world peace and saving the world, but sometimes it may be hard to see the fruits of those words. Since before the words “beauty contest” ever entered her mind, Harman has made volunteering and humanitarianism a large part of her life.

In high school, Harman worked as a candy striper at a local hospital. She also had an apprenticeship in trauma surgery at OHSU. Now she’s interested in cancer research, and works in the breast cancer clinic at OHSU. In addition to that, she’s the Northwest spokesperson for the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation.”I work a lot with connecting the two,” Harman said.

For the longest time, she thought she was going to be a doctor. But after high school, things changed. Her love of music finally got to her, and she switched majors. Now, seriously pursuing a performance career, Harman feels more at home. In case things don’t work out as a professional opera singer, Harman is covered.

That’s where the double-major comes in. “I keep the doors open,” said Harman. After she graduates in 2003 from PSU with her music and speech communication degrees, she’s going on to graduate studies in both fields.

“I would like to study bioethics in grad school, and use that education towards a career with a nonprofit organization.” The Miss Oregon Web site says that Harman’s future ambitions include representing a national nonprofit organization as spokesperson, and worldwide operatic performance.

“As far as music goes,” Harman said. “If the performance door opens, that’d be great!”

Back in high school, Harman’s musical talent was recognized with many awards, including first place in the state of Oregon for solo musical theater (twice) and for solo classical.

While maintaining her 4.0 G.P.A., she also sang in the choir. Her schedule was just as busy back then as it is now, with school days starting at 6:50 a.m. and going late into the night.

A double-major, an opera role, preparations for a pageant and volunteer work might take up a little bit of time. How much sleep does this woman get? Katie says that she averages five hours of sleep a night.

“Oh, but I take naps. I just need 25 to 30 minute naps and I’m fine,” she said.Harman loves it at PSU, because she feels that the university does a great job of offering the students opportunities, especially in the music department.

“It’s great. They always make sure there are a lot of opportunities to perform,” she said.

The future holds an ever-busy life for Katie Harman. In 10 years, she sees herself married, with a job in either music or communications.

“I’ll be taking on as much as I can,” Harman said about her future. “This is prime time.”