SHU Choirs was the first extracurricular organization that I became a part of on campus. I auditioned over the summer and began immediately, as choir was integrated with my class schedule. Within a short amount of time, I had also been added as a freshman, along with two other freshman students, to the choir’s Executive Board. This is where I first began making friends and where I first began feeling at home. Throughout intermediate school (5th-6th grade), middle school and high school I had been extremely involved with my choirs, so becoming part of the E-Board gave me a sense of familiarity while also introducing me to the new territory of being a student leader at the university level.
I remained on the board for all four years of college. Sophomore year I became Co-Advertising Chair, junior year I became Secretary, senior year I became Vice President. Every year, I learned more about myself, leadership and the university, which I loved even more the deeper I got involved with it.
I was also presented with a variety of enormous opportunities through choir that I could have never seen coming. Freshman year, a few members of the choir were selected to sing backup for the opener at a Panic At The Disco! concert. When the fire marshal said that there would be too many people onstage, we got free tickets to see the concert in full instead. Sophomore year, the audition-based choirs got the chance to sing backup at the Metropolitan Opera for two weekend nights in a row at a concert featuring tenor Alfie Boe and rock sensations Pete Townshend and Billy Idol. During my junior year, these same choirs got the opportunity to sing backup for Sarah Brightman, who was most notably the first Christine Daae in the Broadway show “The Phantom of the Opera” and someone I was incredibly honored and humbled to sing for. Finally, the summer before my senior year I got to sing backup for Josh Groban at the leg of his “Bridges” tour on Long Island. Although I would have still categorized my time at Sacred Heart and as a member of SHU Choirs as something magical without these experiences, I will remember those times for the rest of my life.
As my senior year comes to a close, I feel the need to mention “Choir Week.” Throughout the week leading up to graduation, it is a tradition that SHU students get the chance to participate in what is called “Senior Week,” a week dedicated to remembering and celebrating the times and experiences, good and bad, that they have gained throughout their undergraduate years with the friends that they have gained alongside them. Freshman, sophomore and junior choir students also stay on campus this additional week following finals because they need to rehearse for and perform at events like graduation and the Senior Mass.
Being a choir student, over the last three years I slept in dorm rooms next to loud, booming tents; I took pictures with friends that were all dressed up for their commencement balls; I sang and cheered during every graduation. One week from today, I would have been in the midst of my Senior Week. I would be posing for graduation pictures instead of being the one taking them; I would be taking pictures with friends at Commencement Ball rather than beforehand; I would be cheered for during graduation, although I would still also be the one doing the cheering.
Although it is unfortunate that the Class of 2020 did not get the end to their undergraduate years that we anticipated, the important thing is that everyone is partaking in social distancing, staying educated, and keeping healthy. It is okay to be sad, especially during what would have been these exciting, bittersweet times. I will be. But it is also important to remember that this is a time much larger than us, and that if a postponed commencement is the worst of our issues, we are immensely lucky.
Thank you, Sacred Heart, for spoiling me with the most beautiful and educational campus; and for humbling me enough to not only recognize but to accept that life does not always go perfectly according to plan. My four years at Sacred Heart University matured and sculpted me into who I am today, and I do not need a week-long celebration to show me that.