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18-19 Impact Report Web Graphics13. Alumni Epperly

After graduating from Grand Rapids Christian Schools, alumni go on to accomplish great things. Whether making their mark on the entertainment industry, building leaders and transforming communities, contributing to rain forest conservation, or using their athletic skills to inspire the next generation, the paths for GRCS alumni are as diverse as they are exciting. Catch up with these seven alumni who look back on how their experiences at GRCS prepared them to pursue their passions and explore God’s plan for their future.

Rachel Epperly

GRCHS Class of 2014

Fulbright Scholar, Ewha University, Korea

Upcoming destination

Seoul, Korea

Her favorite classes at GRCHS:

I was influenced by Mrs. Knol’s literature and religion classes. I particularly appreciated the balance of critical and creative thinking in her teaching. In her literary analysis, Mrs. Knol focused not only on writing mechanics but also the abstract, sensory, or intangible effects that made a work successful. This balance made her class a naturally welcoming environment for students with a variety of learning styles.

A formational experience at GRCHS:

One formational experience at GRCS was developing friendships with the GRCHS international student community. These friendships were very meaningful and deepened my awareness of many cultures.

Her plans for this fall:

For my Fulbright research, I will be in Seoul from September to July studying the traditional Korean vocal genre, pansori. In addition to my vocal training, I will compose and perform a staged song cycle informed by pansori.

My project is focused on exploring the vocal, narrative, and compositional intersections between contemporary pansori and classical/indie genres. My affiliated university is Ewha University, where I will likely be taking Korean language classes as well. 

What being a Fulbright scholar means for her future:

The study of Korean music is one of my long-lasting passions, and I predict that it will shape my entire career. However, resources for studying Korean music are scarce in the US. By granting me the opportunity to live in Korea and be immersed in Korean music for 10 months, Fulbright gives me the resources to actualize my career-defining passion.

How she first heard of the traditional Korean vocal genre, pansori:

The internet is an incredible resource for students, particularly for learning about other cultures. I first heard of pansori on YouTube and used websites to teach myself the Korean language. I also participated in Stanford University’s online Korean culture and history course and wrote online reviews of Korean indie music while I was in high school.

The unknowns of traveling to Korea:

The concept of my Fulbright is still daunting to me, and there are several unknowns: how my music and identity will change, what language or cultural barriers I will face; however, fear and excitement are closely related, and I know that these fears are probably just disguised excitements. Just like what they say with performance anxiety, nerves can actually be a source of positive energy! 

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