Concert to fund new career vision for Massengale

Sarah Massengale has not let her lack of sight stop her from having a vision of what she wants to do with her life.

The Barnwell native, who has been blind since birth, has always been passionate about music, which led her to earn a degree in music in 2011 from Converse College. She was the first totally blind woman to earn this degree from the Spartanburg college. However, she’s found it difficult to find stable employment as a musician.

“When I came to the realization that music was not for me as a career path, I knew that something needed to change in order for me to have an independent successful life. Add to that the fact that I am blind. It isn’t easy for blind people to find employment, which made the need for something to change in my life even more necessary,” said Massengale, a 2006 graduate of the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities.

Massengale has been accepted into the University of South Carolina’s Public Relations program for the fall semester. The S.C. Commission for the Blind will cover most costs associated with this program, but she is expected to pay part of the housing costs out of pocket.

“I would be very grateful for your financial assistance to help offset these costs,” she stated on a GoFundMe page www.gofundme.com/akzed8ng.

She is also holding a concert titled “An Evening of Song” on Sunday, August 6 at 5 p.m. in the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center (649 Riverside Drive, Orangeburg). She will be accompanied by Sylvia Trimmier. Admission is $15.

“Rather than being a program of academic classical music, I’ve really designed this concert to give me a chance to let my sense of fun, and occasional mischievousness, out to play. In addition to covering quite a few different types of music, there are going to be some fun and funny surprises for my audience along the way,” said Massengale.

In addition to showcasing her musical talent, the concert is also allowing her to put her public relations skills to work as she promotes the event.

Massengale attended the S.C. Commission for the Blind’s summer internship program a couple years ago. She performed entry level public relations and marketing tasks for Carolina Music Academy, including creating company social media pages, redesigning websites and fundraising.

“I discovered that I have a special talent in this area and it is work that I enjoy immensely,” she said.

She also has had the opportunity to serve as secretary of the Clarendon County Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina where she helped organize fundraisers and worked to establish community partnerships. “It was extremely satisfying to me because of its use of creative as well as intellectual skills, and I felt that it was something I would love to do again,” she said.

These experiences made her decision about a new college major easier.

Massengale hopes to one day work in public relations for an arts-related non-profit organization, which would utilize both degrees. Working with an organization like the National Federation of the Blind is another option because “I would relish a chance to be part of the team who presents the positive message that a blind person can do anything a sighted person can,” she said.

Despite a change in career paths, music will remain close to her heart.

“It will always be something that I love, even something that defines me in some ways, but I need to do music for me,” she said of music being a hobby and creative outlet instead of a career.

She thanks everyone in Barnwell County for their support over the years. “You’ve taken me into your hearts and you’ve considered me one of your own, even as I’ve gone on to other things,” said Massengale.