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Leaving a mark


Max Elkiss

Max Elkiss, Class of 2018, has come a long way in his journey to the stage. His love for performance started at a young age, after listening to his first CD and singing the memorized tracks around the house. He eventually traded in concerts in his kitchen for theater camps and plays, ultimately becoming a vocal performance major at Grand Valley State University.

“I came to Grand Valley because I wanted to work with certain faculty members,” Max says. “This just seemed like a school that very much invested in its students.”

Max has been able to develop his talents at Grand Valley with the help of his professors. However, resources crucial to student success, such as enrichment opportunities, have been stretched thin in recent years due to the growth of the performing arts programs.

Thanks to donors like the Keller Family, Max will have the support he needs for his final year at Grand Valley.

The Keller family has generously endowed the Linn Maxwell Keller Professional Vocalist Experience Award as a tribute to Linn’s lifelong love of music and her legacy as an artist. The award will go to students who, like Max, share Linn’s dedication to her profession as a vocalist and who are seeking professional experiences beyond the classroom. The Linn Maxwell Keller Black Box Theatre, part of the newly renovated Thomas J. and Marcia J. Haas Center for Performing Arts, was named to honor the generosity of the Keller Family, and to celebrate Linn’s life and career.

“The donor support shows that we have the resources to do what we need to do as performers,” Max says. “That is a crucial part of getting people into this program, and helping them succeed.” 

Max plans to spend his senior year utilizing his resources to enhance his skills as a performer. He’ll then travel to New York with the goal of making a name for himself in music. Much like Linn Maxwell Keller, Max looks to impact others through his deep commitment to his craft.

“I want my Laker Effect to be telling great stories through music,” Max says. “I want to be able to leave a mark on people with my performing.”