Student Spotlight – Kelsey DePree: Serving Through Music

by Kellyn Post

Kelsey DePree, a senior music education major, hasn’t always been sure about where God would lead her, but she is now passionate about serving others through music education and through involvement in student orgs on campus.

DePree and her twin brother, Kurtis, who also attends Cedarville, were born in Haiti and adopted at the age of one, and have been living in the United States ever since.

While most of her family is not musical, DePree and her brother were encouraged by their parents to take lessons, and DePree now plays an assortment of instruments, including piano, violin, guitar, several brass instruments, most string instruments, several woodwind instruments, and percussion. DePree also grew up playing duets with her brother, as well as performing in recitals.

“My mom and dad were really intentional about making us do music, and even when we said, ‘I don’t really want to do this anymore,’ they said, ‘No, trust me, you’re going to want to use this later.’ So they really kept us in it, and I’m really grateful to them now for that,” DePree said.

One of DePree’s older sisters attended Cedarville to study music education, and DePree initially did not want to follow her footsteps. Because of that, DePree said she did not intend to study music education in college, or even to attend Cedarville.

However, DePree said she and her brother wanted to attend the same college and looked at multiple other schools together. God eventually led them to Cedarville, where they fell in love with the school. But even after choosing the school, DePree still did not intend to major in music education — she initially wanted to double-major in vocal performance and communication.

“My father said, ‘Why don’t you try music education for one semester, and if you don’t like it, you can switch to the other concentration,’” DePree said.

Four years later, DePree is not only a senior music education major, but is also looking into graduate school for music education and a special education certificate. When she first came to Cedarville, DePree did not expect to be called to teaching music to children with special needs, but now she views it as another way that she would love to serve.

“Coming into school, I had worked in several music settings where I had to teach children with special needs. I’d enjoyed it, but I hadn’t really thought that that’s where my path was going,” DePree said.

However, through several opportunities to teach music to special needs children and through special education seminars she attended at the Ohio Music Educators Association, DePree sensed God increasing her passion for special education. For the past year, she has been pursuing special education as another way to serve others through her major, and she is excited to see where God leads her.

DePree views both music education and her involvement in several student organizations on campus as ways to serve and love those around her. As a required part of her major, she is involved in the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) org on campus, as well as the dance and sign language organizations. DePree currently serves as the vice-president of both NAFME and Alpha Sigma Lambda, the sign language org, and is a choreographer for Ayo, the dance org.

DePree said she loves having the opportunity to meet new people through the orgs she is involved with, especially those she might not have met otherwise.

“I really wanted to challenge myself to meet people that I wouldn’t meet as part of the music department … and being in the different orgs really fosters and allows for that,” DePree said.

For DePree, being a leader means having a willingness to serve the people around her by putting them first.

“Servant leadership is huge, and that’s something that, not only have I learned from my department, but also from the orgs that I was in,” DePree said. “There’s no way to be a leader without being a servant.”

Kristen Jarboe, a fellow music education major, shared some of the ways that DePree already encourages others both in and outside of the music department.

“[DePree] always makes you feel loved and welcomed, and you can talk to her. She’s always willing to help me, and I’ve seen her help people in music theory when she’s not their tutor, and just offer up her time,” Jarboe said.

In addition, DePree said she sees music education as an opportunity to love God and others through being intentional with her students and through being respectful to the people she will be working under.

“[Love for God] means that I love my students no matter what they’re going through,” DePree said. “It means that even though I might not be able to do it in the classroom, I’m praying for them. It means I’m involved in their lives.”

Kellyn Post is a junior English major and an Arts and Entertainment writer for Cedars. She is happiest when drinking tea, listening to music, and reading old books.

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