Carolanne Sanders

Hometown: Plano, TX

high school: Plano Senior HS

college: Vanderbilt University

MAJOR: Anthropology

Words, actions, and musical notes. It is through a perfect blend of these three forms of self-expression that Carolanne recounts her life. Growing up as an African American in one of the country’s most affluent, predominantly white suburbs, Carolanne gained recognition among her peers as the “smart black girl,” an epithet that glorified the social and educational schisms that are still apparent in the city today. As a result, she focused her energy on finding a true sense of place within the Plano community and stumbled upon the incredible, connective power of literature and music in the process. Her dearest memories are of her mother, Vanessa, who loved to read to her before bed when she was little and encouraged every dance class, cello lesson, and trip to summer camp even though their family frequently couldn’t afford them.

At a very young age, Carolanne came to the conclusion that she would not be defined by demographics or physical appearance but by her individual choices and actions. Carolanne would go on to excel in both extracurricular and academic fields, ensuring that she give back to the community through involvement in groups such as Peer Mediators, an organization of teenagers selected by school administration to help equip their fellow students with skills for successful conflict resolution. Carolanne helped establish her high school’s official chapter of Model United Nations and currently resides as delegate for the United Kingdom. And when she’s not burying her head in classic literature—epic poetry is her favorite genre, Dante Alighieri her favorite poet—or in rehearsal, you can often find her out interacting with various residents of the city and striving to improve intercommunity relations.

An accomplished musician, Carolanne began her musical instruction on the piano and shifted her focus to the cello when she was twelve. She hopes to study cello performance and literature as a dual degree student in college and mentors aspiring young musicians through private instruction. All the while, she continues to take private lessons of her own and maintains membership in three competitive youth orchestras, leading the section as principal cellist in two of them. Carolanne serves on the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Teen Council, an advisory board for the major orchestra that aims to expand teen exposure to and involvement in classical music throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and has even been featured in the introduction of The Music in Me, a nationally aired HBO documentary series on young musicians.

Carolanne hopes to translate her love of music and literature into a career as a professor of literature or an orchestral musician. “Words and musical notes have a sort of timeless, intangible beauty that you can’t find anywhere else,” she says. “I just want to be able to let people love them the way I do.”

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