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Helping Others through Education

January 2012

Sarah Carroll wasn’t originally excited about going to an all-LDS university. Growing up in a small Mormon community, she yearned to get outside and see what was over the horizon. But while still in high school, she visited the BYU-Idaho campus in Rexburg and it just felt right. Now, after spending several semesters there, she believes it was the best decision she ever made.

Sarah decided on a music major because she wanted her music to influence the lives of people for the better. “It’s so fulfilling to create something,” said Sarah. “As children of God we all feel a need to create, and music is one of those creative channels. There’s a spiritual connection with all of us that brings feelings to rise that nothing else can.”

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Sarah’s ideal career would be to work part-time as a music therapist and part-time as a performing musician. “I love working with those with disabilities,” said Sarah. “Having a little brother with Down syndrome has helped me obtain a love for those who struggle. A family experience with cancer has also helped my testimony grow and given me a deeper understanding of the eternal perspective. In Nauvoo last summer I loved to interact with families that had children with disabilities. I decided to pursue a career that would involve both therapy and performance.”

But BYU-Idaho didn’t offer a degree in music therapy. Undaunted, Sarah found out how to make it work.

“I contacted music therapy professors at the graduate school I hope to attend to see what kind of classes would be beneficial,” said Sarah. “They gave me the requirements and I took them to the Discovery Center here on campus to see what we could work out. Now, all my clusters fill those requirements so I will be well on my way when I get my undergraduate degree.”

Sarah feels that in addition to BYU-Idaho customizing her educational experience, it has provided other blessings as well.

“My performing experiences have been the best I could ever hope for,” said Sarah. “I’ve done everything from solo performance and chamber ensemble to large ensemble, and I’ve had the most wonderful professors to help me along the way. I’ve been fortunate to play amazing music with talented musicians. I’ve also made lifelong friends and learned how to overcome everyday challenges. This has helped my testimony grow.”

Sarah has mastered the clarinet and piano, but it hasn’t been easy.

“Music theory was a big struggle for me when I first started,” said Sarah, “but I eventually figured it out with lots of help and fervent prayers. Now, even after so much experience, I struggle with still getting really nervous before most of my performances. It’s a work in progress.”

Sarah describes herself as an independent person who wanted to support herself while in school. She had some money saved, but not enough for semester after semester of tuition, books, lessons, housing, and food.

“I receive some help from my parents and I’m grateful,” said Sarah. “After all, they’re the ones who have always supported me in all of my endeavors. But I’m also so grateful for the scholarships I have received. Studying music is demanding and I haven’t had time to work. I’m glad to know that if I am frugal and work hard in my studies, the way can be provided for me to continue at college through scholarships. I want to make the most of my time in school knowing that the money has come from the sacrifice of others.”

Sarah will graduate in April 2013 with a bachelor of arts in music. As a parting note, I asked her how she planned to change the world. “I would change myself first,” she said. “I just hope I can learn to be the best that I can and be a good influence to others.”

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