Hannie McGarity ’19: Taking chances to learn

Unrestricted scholarships support Oles wherever their education on the Hill leads. The Paul ’55 and Lois Wold Christenson ’55 and Dorothy Sorenson ’50 Endowed Scholarship, established by Ruth Christenson Sorenson ’81 and Arne Sorenson, helps Oles like Hannie McGarity ’19 no matter their hometown or major.

Hannie McGarity '19 with her violin
Hannie McGarity ’19

Hanlon “Hannie” McGarity ’19 may be passionate about music performance, but that hasn’t stopped her from exploring the greater world outside her practice room.

McGarity, who is majoring in violin performance, has already traveled to three countries during her time at St. Olaf — and she will visit at least one more country before she graduates. McGarity has studied French in Morocco during Interim of her first year, and she toured with the St. Olaf Orchestra in Argentina and Uruguay the following summer. Next spring, she will study music in Vienna, Austria.

For McGarity, these experiences have been among her most memorable at St. Olaf. “The most valuable thing about my liberal arts education has been the opportunity to study abroad,” she says. It was because of this opportunity and others that McGarity, a Washington native, decided not to study at a conservatory. And when she and her family attended a St. Olaf Band concert in Seattle, she knew that she had found the school for her.

College is a time to take all kinds of opportunities, and no student should feel like they can’t study abroad, take music lessons, or attend St. Olaf because they can’t afford it

“I wanted to study music in college; St. Olaf has such a well-known music program, and it seemed like a good fit for me,” she says.

The program at St. Olaf has certainly not disappointed McGarity, who plays first violin in the St. Olaf Orchestra.

“Playing in the orchestra has been amazing,” she says. In addition to strengthening her performance skills, she also enjoys a special camaraderie with her fellow musicians. “The orchestra has so many traditions, like the autumn hayride and spring early-morning softball.”

Without her financial aid package, though, McGarity would have never been able to participate in these traditions.

“My scholarships are the reason I was able to choose St. Olaf,” she says. “The college offered me the best financial aid package out of all the schools I applied to.”

This spring, McGarity won first prize in the Edvard Grieg Society of Minnesota String Competition. As the winner of the competition, she will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Bergen, Norway to perform in the home of Grieg, the celebrated Norwegian composer and pianist, in connection with a seminar.

“College is a time to take all kinds of opportunities, and no student should feel like they can’t study abroad, take music lessons, or attend St. Olaf because they can’t afford it,” says McGarity.