Rosalie Vitale grew up in a musical family. There are instruments all
around her family home in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. It’s not surprising to
know that she is a musician. How she came to choose her instrument, though,
is a little surprising.
“When I was young, my brothers and his friends would always form bands, and
I wanted to be part of it,” she recalls. “But my hands were too small to
hold a guitar. The one thing I could hold was a pair of drumsticks. So, I
became a drummer.”
Throughout high school, Vitale became a leader among percussionists. She
mentored younger musicians as a section leader in the marching band and was
president of the jazz band. She also spent her time in high school
cultivating another of her deepest interests.
“I’ve been into science my whole life,” Vitale says. “In high school I took
AP everything: biology, chemistry, physics, statistics and calculus. If
there was a chance to do advanced study on something science-adjacent, I
When it came time to choose a college, Vitale wanted to know first-hand if
any of her prospective institutions would allow her to pursue her personal
and academic passions at the same time. In her research, she learned about
Drexel’s performing arts program, which welcomes students from all majors
and even offers scholarships to certain students.
In the summer before enrolling, Vitale auditioned for concert band, jazz
ensemble and percussion ensemble, earning scholarships to play in all
three. She has since also become a member of the Drexel University Symphony
As a third-year materials science and engineering major and a member of the
executive board for Material Advantage, a professional organization that
welcomes students with interest in the field, Vitale has learned that a
challenge curriculum and extracurricular activities can take a lot of time.
But she still finds time for music.
“Everything moves a mile a minute, even compared to other engineering
schools. It’s really exciting,” she says. “But that’s a lesson you learn
when you play drums: no matter what, you keep going. If you miss a beat,
you can fix it next time, but you keep playing.”
One of the benefits that helps Vitale keep her involved is that performing
arts students receive priority registration. “Your schedule can set you up
for success for the entire term,” she says.
Vitale also says that the closeness of the community within her the
Department of Materials Science and Engineering helps her stay connected to
“It’s a close-knit family,” she says. “If I were in a bigger discipline,
maybe I’d get lost in the mix. But in MSE, I’m on a first-name basis with
all three of my advisors and I can talk to any of my professors at any
time. And the students really make a point to help each other out.”
Ultimately, Vitale is glad for the opportunity to pursue two interests at
the same time, and to find that at Drexel, she’s far from the only one
“The cool thing about these ensembles is there isn’t a ‘jazz ensemble’
major,’” she says. “They aren’t music majors, because Drexel doesn’t have
performance majors. They’re people who are doing it because it’s their
passion, and that’s exactly what I am.”