The Sounds of Success

The hustle and bustle of the day is steadily winding down, and many across campus have already returned home for the evening. Before all ASCC officers can retire, however, they have one last meeting to attend.

As rain steadily patters at the window, they gather in PUB 160D to hash out the details of the past meeting and plan for future events.

One officer rises and calls the meeting to order with a few sharp taps of a gavel. She gazes around the circle of members, assessing the attendance and greeting all who are gathered with a pleasant smile.

As she gestures for the first officer to deliver his talk, she quietly returns to her seat, a green tag stationed directly in front of her stamped in black letters: “Sarah Swift, ASCC President.”

Swift is the president of ASCC, a first-violinist in the Clark College Orchestra and recent recipient of the Fields Scholarship for music.

Last year as a Running Start student, Swift was the vice president of ASCC and enjoyed the experience so much she decided to reapply this year.

“That was a really great opportunity,” Swift said. “I got to connect with so many students on campus. I love people and I love the students.”

Swift said she had to search out at least 50 signatures of students who would support her as president. She was then interviewed by the ASCC Appointments Committee.

She landed the position, and has begun working in student government once again.

Sarah Gruhler, Director of Student Life and Swift’s adviser in ASCC, said she has worked with Swift for the past two years. Gruhler said that one of Swift’s greatest skills is that she knows what she does “isn’t easy.”

“She is a perfectionist,” Gruhler said. “She just wants to do what she needs to do, and do it well.”

Swift routinely runs ASCC meetings and organizes major events such as “Welcome Week,” as well as giving public addresses, like introducing President Bob Knight at his State of the College Address.

“I’m still pretty young,” said Swift, who is in her third year at Clark. “I didn’t feel that I was personally ready to transfer to another school. I felt that it would be a good growing experience to stay one more year.”

Swift hopes to attend Portland State University, Western Washington University or Washington State University Vancouver, but remains open to other options.

For her music, Swift received the Fields Scholarship last October. The scholarship, supplied by the Clark College Foundation, pays for tuition, books and follows the recipient to their four-year institution.

In addition to her involvement in student government, Swift is also a first violinist in the Clark College Orchestra, and has been playing violin since she was four-years-old.

“I have found her to be very determined and motivated,” said Don Appert, conductor of the orchestra and a music professor at Clark. “She has had a very challenging repertoire. When Sarah comes in to rehearse, she is focused.”

Appert described the first violins as the “leaders” of the orchestra and said it is one of the most challenging sections to play.

“It is very demanding,” Appert said. “We set very high standards, and they take a lot of work, time and effort.”

Swift has also participated in the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, based in the Portland metro area. While a part of the symphony, Swift participated in several types of events, including performing for retirement homes and at outreach concerts for underprivileged schools.

“Through music you can touch anybody,” Swift said. She remembered a time when she and her sister performed for a woman who was dying.

“She was just completely silent,” Swift said. “Then after my sister and I played, she started singing. It is incredible to see the healing power of music.”

As a music major, Swift plans to continue to expand her musical knowledge. She does not know whether she will pursue music as a career, but knows she will continue to love it.

“The instrument matches the personality,” Swift said. “The violin was the instrument for me.”

As Swift returned to her office, she carried with her two things: a desire to succeed at her position in one hand, and a violin case in the other.

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