Alumnus Corner: Sarah Bonamino

LWW Class of 2014

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Alumnus Corner: Sarah Bonamino

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Though it was 5 long years ago (yes, I’m ancient), I can clearly remember the anxiety that built as the months ticked by during my senior year.

First I was sending out applications, then creating endless pros and cons lists for the schools that accepted me and agonizing over those where I was on the waitlist. Once I finally decided I was going to New York to pursue my dream of working in book publishing, I expected to feel some great weight lifted from my shoulders. Finally, my decision was made and I could enjoy my last weeks in high school.

Unfortunately, most of my anxiety about the future remained, but took a new form. While there were so many questions I should have asked myself (“Should I move 800 miles away from home to a place where I know no one?” being the most obvious) there was one question that kept me up every night: What should I minor in?

For some reason, I had to hyper-fixate on this…well, minor decision. Logically, I thought should study something business related–like marketing or communications–if I was going to work in the corporate world; however, so much of my identity at home was connected to my passion for music. While it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a living, I loved performing. So many of my best high school memories had been in the music hallway after school, goofing off before rehearsal (only sometimes during rehearsal), or spending long, exhausting weekends on the bus to and from marching band competitions singing along to the crowd-sourced soundtrack I made to pump us up on the way. I couldn’t imagine my life without making music.

None of my pros and cons lists made this decision any clearer–even with the columns stacked against each other, my heart was conflicted. I was lucky to have so many wonderful and supportive mentors at West, but I knew that my former English teacher was the right person to ask (read: plead) for advice. After discussing it for some time, patiently listening to my lists and agonizing over this choice that I thought would define me forever, she only had one question: What do you want to do?

I told her I wanted to do music. But was that the right thing to do?

Mrs. Hilbert ultimately helped me realize there is no right decision. And music is much more interesting than marketing, don’t you think?

It was the best decision I could have made. Allowing myself to keep music in my life brought me so much joy in college. I was able to put aside the reading and essays for a few hours every week and focus my brain on something entirely different. We performed pieces I never expected to love (Please look up Godzilla Eats Las Vegas; it’s 12 minutes of pure fun) and works that challenged me as a musician. I began voice lessons with an amazing professor who helped me see my voice in a different light, and pushed me to try things I never thought I could do. I even joined an all-female acapella group and arranged a few songs, something that was totally outside of my comfort zone before.

After my experience, my advice to others would be to allow yourself to pursue the things that make you happy, even if they don’t fit in your life plan at the time. Yes, I have followed my dream of working in publishing and I love books, but that’s only one part of me. Through music, I continue to find people who help me express myself and who I can lean on when I’m far from family. Today, I nourish my musical side by singing in a community choir with other vocalists in the city looking to scratch that same musical itch in a fun and relaxing way. I never thought this would be possible for me in New York, a city full of performers waiting in the wings of Broadway; but continuing music through college gave me the confidence I needed to seek out others in the city who need music in their lives just as much as I do, even if they’re trying to be the next Elphaba on The Great White Way.