From Our Scholar Blogs:

Pursuing my passion for singing: A Q&A with SHE-CAN Scholar Grace Imanariyo

​The SHE-CAN staff chatted with scholar Grace Imanariyo, sophomore at Muhlenberg College, about her passion for singing, ability to play many instruments and how music has helped her evolve in the field of computer science. Back home, Grace began to sing around the age of six, and she’s grateful to be able to express her creativity on campus.

SHE-CAN: Back in December, you blew the staff, mentors and scholars away with your voice at SHE-CAN’s Karaoke night. Has singing always been a part of your life? 

Grace: Thank you! That was a fun evening. I grew up in a Christian family and my faith is a very important part of my life. I grew up singing with children from my Sunday school. At first a choir didn’t exist, but in 2007 my church formed an official children’s choir named Coeur Joyeux. I’m still a part of this choir but it’s no longer a children’s choir since many of us are grown-ups.

Additionally, my mother and two sisters love to sing and everyone in our family always encourages us. In 2012, I realized singing was my calling and that I could use this gift to help bring others together. I started leading worship at my home church in the English and Kinyarwanda services. I received many compliments that boosted my confidence, and I started to love singing more. Eventually, I became interested in learning how to play an instrument. My friend Allain started giving me tips on how to play keyboard so that I could learn to simultaneously perform the music and sing.

SHE-CAN: In addition to keyboard, do you play any other musical instruments? If so, what are they and are you self-taught on each?

Grace: Yes, I play guitar, cajón and a little bit of drums. Last summer, my friend Pauline Delacruz helped me improve my guitar skills. I grew up playing beats on one drum so the cajón wasn’t hard for me to learn. I was that kid who would be drumming in class and everyone would be like, “Grace, we are trying to study!” I’m learning how to play a full drum kit, and my friend Faith Thomas gives me lessons. I still have lots to learn but I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has given me lessons on how to play these incredible instruments.

SHE-CAN: As a computer science major, does this creative outlet of singing help you think about STEM in a different way?
 
Grace: Yes, my love of singing encouraged me to explore how to play instruments, and I believe this has taught me to be more creative. Although I ask others for advice, I’m mostly a self-taught musician. Learning how to play instruments on my own encourages me to find new techniques. When I compare this to STEM, especially my major, it’s a similar process because I’m always trying to figure out new solutions on my own.

SHE-CAN: Many singers post videos of themselves performing on their social media accounts. Do you ever share videos of yourself singing?
 
Grace: Yes, I enjoy sending videos to my friends on WhatsApp and sometimes I post them on Facebook. I’ve recently created a YouTube channel and started performing covers of other people’s songs. I know a time will come when I will share my own songs that I’ve written - stay tuned! 

SHE-CAN: At Muhlenberg, are you taking music classes or involved in other campus organizations where you sing/perform?
 
Grace: I’m not taking any music classes but would love to in the near future. The DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship worship team is where I sing, and I immediately knew this organization was going to be where I felt most at home!
 
Also, once I arrived in the United States, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find a place where I could continue to pursue my love of singing. After joining DCF, I visited many of their worship team rehearsals before I became a part of the team in Jan. 2017. I sing and play keyboard. We have rehearsals every Thursday evening and then lead others in Friday’s DCF Large Group gathering.

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SHE-CAN: Aside from the music component, what's your favorite part about DCF?
 
Grace: It’s a place full of genuinely friendly people. It’s very important to be with people who encourage you even when you’re at your lowest and we constantly work to lift each other up.

SHE-CAN: Can you share any fun or interesting stories from DCF?


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Grace: In spring 2017, DCF took a service trip to Lake Champions in New York where we served around 300 middle school students. We were divided in different groups, and my responsibility was to serve the children food and drinks. It was a great experience sharing my energy and serving others. I loved it so much that I signed up for the trip again this semester, but unfortunately it was cancelled due to bad weather. Everyone was disappointed it was cancelled but I believe everything happens for a reason. Hopefully, I will get to go next spring break.