Name: Rachel Stewart
Hometown: Topeka, Kansas
Program: Music Education
Graduation year: 2022
Future career plans: High school music teacher
Why did you choose Evangel? What brought you here?
I started looking at colleges my senior year of high school. I didn’t know what I was looking for, let alone what I wanted to study. So I started visiting smaller, Christian universities. I visited and auditioned at one other school besides Evangel. In the process of auditioning, I was filled with overwhelming anxiety. That was pretty typical for me when it came to performing. However, when I auditioned at Evangel, I was shocked at how peaceful I felt.
I stood with confidence on the Barnett Recital Hall stage, which is an intimidating experience to say the least. But the Lord kept my heart calm and at peace. Following my audition, I had the chance to speak to Kevin Hawkins, the head of the Music Education program at Evangel. He was quick to pour into me, showing clear confidence in my abilities and what he thought I should do. At the time, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to be a music teacher. But after that conversation, the Lord made it clear that that’s what He wanted me to do.
Throughout the process, there were so many variables about which I should have been anxious and terrified, but God brought me so much comfort and peace and made Evangel the obvious choice.
What do you find most exciting/most fulfilling about the degree you’re currently pursuing?
Music is not necessarily essential to life. But it’s such a beautiful way to give back what the Lord has given to us. We can also connect with one another through music. I am an emotionally driven person, and music really allows me and others to feel our emotions – to pause, reflect, and process what’s going on in our minds and hearts. I’m so excited to share this with young musicians as I help them hone their talents to praise the Lord with excellence and connect with them.
Why would you recommend it to someone else?
The Music Education program is a challenging and rigorous degree. But as long as you love music and have a desire to really pour your heart into it, the process can be so rewarding and exciting.
Professor Hawkins makes all of his classes so much fun. He encourages us and pushes us on to excellence. He takes every opportunity to speak truth over us, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with the course materials at hand. His desire is to get the absolute best out of his students, and to make sure they’re where the Lord wants them to be. He sees us, knows when we are struggling before we say a word, and loves to come along side us to pray for us. I know I wouldn’t be here today if he hadn’t poured into me that first time we met or if he hadn’t been here to encourage me through the past year and a half.
How has Evangel prepared you or helped you so far?
There are so many different facets within the Music Department that work together and have developed me as a musician. All of my courses have pushed me out of my comfort zone and have challenged me to grow and pursue additional study on my own just to hone my craft. The Lord is so evident within each professor’s heart. They aren’t just here to hand out grades and deliver tests but to push us toward excellence in our God-given callings. As I’m becoming a better musician, my faith is becoming my own and being strengthened through the process.
Do you have a specific testimony or story of how God has really shown up for you or made Himself known to you during your time at EU so far?
Moving several hours away from my family was really hard. I tend to be an introvert, so developing new relationships can be really difficult for me. I struggle to put myself out there and to be trusting of others. However, the Lord blessed me early on with fast friendships here at Evangel. I know that some of the people I’ve met will be in my life for years to come.
God has been faithful to show me that I’m not alone in this journey. When I started to feel a little distant and isolated my freshman year, He constantly reminded me that He is still with me. And when I try to carry this heavy load on my own, He is quick to humble me and remind me that I need His help. The constant lesson that He keeps teaching me is that I was not made to be alone.