Straight from the heart
When Shari Garrett, a junior from Hinesville, Ga., chose where she’d go to college,
she let her head rule her decision. But her heart for music was not to be denied.
“Originally I went to Berry College, where I was studying psychology,” she says.
“I’ve always loved writing and music, but I never thought I could make a career
out of them, so I went with psychology, which seemed to be more practical.”
She quickly discovered that a practical choice often is not the right choice.
“Finally, I came to grips with myself and realized that I love to write and make
music, and that’s what I want to do the rest of my life.”
Shari decided to find another college where she could pursue her true interests.
That’s when she found LaGrange College.
“I actually Googled music schools and LaGrange was one of the top ones that came
up,” she says with a laugh. “Before I even left Berry, I applied to LaGrange –
and it was the only school I applied to. My parents never knew that. That was the
biggest leap of faith I had ever taken. I just kept praying that they would accept
me – and they did!”
Her parents were a bit baffled about why she made such a drastic change so early
in her college career, but once she got settled in at LaGrange, they began to understand.
“Every time I’d call home and talk to my parents about everything I was doing
here – singing with one group, performing with another, or about something I’d
written – they’d always tell me how happy they are for me. My dad never finishes
a conversation without telling me how proud he is of me.”
During her time at LaGrange, Shari has discovered another passion – acting.
“My voice teacher, Dr. (Toni) Anderson (Chair of the Music Department), really
encouraged me to take some theater classes because she said I was a natural on
stage. I did, and I fell in love with it.”
Now she is pursuing a minor in theatre arts. She hopes the combination of music
and drama will offer more opportunities for her.
“I hope to do something in the musical theater field, some kind of entertainment
or singing,” she says.
That desire led her to audition for Disney World’s College Program, which is designed
to give students real-life experience in the many shows and venues offered throughout
“I applied as an entertainer, so they asked me to go to Orlando for an audition,”
she says. “My mom and I drove down to Orlando and went to the Animal Kingdom where
I auditioned with more than 100 people.”
She says they were taught a short dance number, then were broken into small groups
and asked to perform the choreography. And that was it.
“They said, ‘Thank you: see you later.’ After that, I really didn’t think I’d
But she was in for a pleasant surprise. In May, she was offered an internship
to work backstage at “The Lion King Show” and the “Finding Nemo Musical.”
“I work with professionals from all over the world,” she says. “I have had so
much fun since I have been here. I feel very privileged to have gotten such
an opportunity to work with a world-renowned company. Since being here, I
have been auditioning for shows at the parks as well.”
Shari will be returning to campus in time for the January Interim Term. She says
she is looking forward to resuming her studies, especially with Dr. Anderson, with
whom she’s developed a strong tie.
“Dr. Anderson has been extremely encouraging,” Shari says. “She is literally my
mom away from home. She’s been there to be the helping hand I’ve always needed.”