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Howell finds her voice as Pellissippi State’s Outstanding Music Graduate

Sarah Howell in cap and gown with diploma in front of piano

Sarah Howell, center, celebrates being named Pellissippi State’s Outstanding Graduate for Music in spring 2023.

From as far back as Sarah Howell can remember, music has been a part of her life. “I think as soon as I had my first word, I was singing my first song,” she recalls. So when she started at Pellissippi State in the fall of 2020, majoring in music was the obvious choice. 

Sarah had a little help in making her decision to come to Pellissippi State. Her mother graduated from here the same year that Sarah started. Encouraged by her mother’s glowing reviews of the school, instructors and the community, Pellissippi State sounded like the perfect place for her. “I ended up coming here and found out that the Music program was just absolutely amazing,” she says. “I find comfort and care and love in groups where we’re all driven towards one goal.”  

Sarah has performed with Pellissippi State’s Variations ensemble, the Hardin Valley Thunder bluegrass band and various quartets and trios for College events, including the 2023 Student Awards Ceremony and a Women’s History Month concert. Her favorite achievement while at Pellissippi State was being named Outstanding Graduate in Music.  

“It was just kind of a culmination of everything that I had worked on for the past three years,” she says. “It’s a big emotional reward. I got to look at a plaque and be like, ‘Holy crap, I did that.’”  

Sarah is taking some well-deserved time off before she transfers to the University of Tennessee. In addition to solo gigs, she plans to audition for vocal groups like the Knoxville Choral Society and the Knoxville Opera Chorus.  

Sarah’s parting advice for Pellissippi State students is simple: “Breathe. Everything will fall into place, and everything will figure itself out. And this, too, shall pass. Whether it be an emotional struggle, a financial struggle or a place where you find yourself not feeling your best and not wanting to face the day, it will pass,” she assures. “New hopes are born with each new sunrise.”

— Interview and photo by Jessie Tipton, visual media coordinator for Pellissippi State; story by Sam Comer, writer for Pellissippi State.