Name: Marilyn Joyce (Thomas) DeBoard
Graduation Year: 1965
Major: Music Education
Current Position: Songwriter
City and State: Chesterfield, MO
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
My first job, following graduation, was teaching music K-12 in public schools. After I married and began our family, I served as music director in multiple churches. Five pieces of choral and duet music I had written were published.
In 1993, my activities came to a screeching halt with back surgery, and I was never able to walk again. I discovered that I had been born with Spina Bifida Occulta. My spinal cord is split (biostem) and is also tethered at T-10. My neurosurgeon told me that my spinal cord had become too stretched and flaccid to support me properly.
I spent the next fifteen years under a pain doctor’s supervision on increasingly high doses of pain medication to handle the pain. I was often drowsy and slept through this portion of my life. In 2009, I decided I would rather deal with the pain than constant sleepiness, so I abruptly stopped my medications. When I saw my physician at my next scheduled appointment, I told him that I had quit. He did not believe me and said that I had put myself in danger of dying from stopping the amount I had been taking. By God’s incredible mercy, I experienced no withdrawal symptoms!
Soon after, I began writing again. In 2014, I entered a Christian Songwriter’s competition and won in the Southern Gospel Division. I then went on to win the grand prize over all the divisions. My award was a trip to Nashville to meet with other publishers and writers. While there, I co-wrote, The People In The Line, with Sue Smith and Lee Black. It was later recorded by The Talleys, was a Top Ten Gospel Song of 2015 and the video won Video of the Year in April 2017.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
It is difficult to pick one. The Band’s tours to many of our states as well as outside the U.S. and staying in the homes of our host churches families was an irreplaceable experience. The European Tour during my senior year is one I still treasure! However, I would have to say that the lifelong friendships I made at Evangel still affect my life today in more ways than I could even relate.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
I had excellent teachers, who led the way with their lives. My Composition teacher actually sent my Senior Choral Project to Lorenz Publishing Company without my knowledge. When the class presented all of our pieces in a recital, there was an asterisk denoting that my song had been accepted for publication. That was the first time I realized that anyone else might be interested in anything I created.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Evangel had an excellent reputation in the surrounding communities. When I was hired, the Superintendent of the school told me that Evangel graduates had the reputation of being very desired as teachers.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Let the Lord lead you as you prepare for your field. Prepare as well as you can, but ask God to open and close doors at His will.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
Evangel has come a long way and the students I have seen are advanced beyond levels when I graduated. In my opinion, the two most important skills are the ability to communicate well and enthusiasm for your job.