Alumni Spotlight: Tricia Zinecker ’88

As a junior transfer student in the ‘80s, Tricia Zinecker remembers, “Drury University opened up my whole world.” After attending another private institution in the region for the first half of her college career, Tricia simply was not finding the educational experiences she yearned for. It was Michael Thomas, a recruiter at the then Drury College, who helped her determine that Drury was the place for her. During her time at Drury, she enjoyed ghost hunting, performing recitals in Clara Thompson Hall, and spending time at Stone Chapel and Sigma Pi. “I wasn’t aware that a college education could be a home, family, and one of the most fun times in my life. Drury truly was all of those things.”

After graduating with her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance in 1988, Tricia pursued a Master of Music in vocal pedagogy and opera performance at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. It was there that she would meet her husband of 26 years, Jim Zinecker, a talented trumpeter, and start down a new life path.

Discovering a Passion for Education

After earning their Master of Music degrees at Northwestern, Tricia and Jim moved back to his home state of Texas to begin their new life together. They began performing professionally and found joy in teaching music in the public schools. After starting a family, the couple decided to move back to Missouri to further pursue their careers in education. Tricia has been a music educator, choral director, and vocal instructor in the Republic School District for the past thirteen years. “I believe in an arts integrated curriculum, and I firmly believe that Drury is where that seed was planted.”

Tricia’s many professional achievements include being Associate Director of Children’s Choir of Southwest Missouri, Director of Choirs at Christ Episcopal Church, Elementary Vice President for South Central Missouri Music Educators Association, and sitting on the Board of Directors for Boys Choirs of Springfield. Tricia’s choirs have been selected to appear at American Choral Director’s Association Regional Convention, Texas Music Educators Association Convention, and Missouri Music Educators Association Convention. She has even had the opportunity to teach adjunct voice at her beloved Drury University, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Educational Instruction.

Perpetuating the Panther Legacy

While Tricia has enjoyed many successes in her career, she says, “Nothing compares to the pride and love I have for my three children.” Her eldest daughter, Elly Zinecker, is currently a senior elementary education major and president of Pi Beta Phi at Drury. Molly Zinecker is a sophomore business major, track team member, and treasurer of Pi Beta Phi. “I think the proud young women I have raised are in part because of the self-confidence and self-awareness that Drury’s liberal arts education gave me!” Tricia hopes that her fifteen-year-old son Ian will follow in his sister's’ footsteps and become a Drury Panther.

Tricia has enjoyed staying involved with Drury by serving as a guest speaker on recruitment days, signing up to become an alumni mentor, and encouraging her students to pursue a Drury education.  She hopes to do even more to give back to Drury in the future. She encourages current students to become emotionally involved with professors, campus life, and the university as a whole. Her strongest piece of advice is to “Take advantage of the Drury experience.”