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Avianna 2
Name: Avianna Rishebarger '10, '12
Residence: Chester, South Carolina
Degree: B.S. in Education; Master's in Choral Conducting
Occupation: Voice instructor

Avianna Rishebarger’s life is alive with the sound of music.

The two-time Winthrop University graduate instructs about 35 students each week in voice and piano, leads choirs at a church and hopes to pursue a doctorate in music history—along with feeding the goats on her family’s farm in Chester, South Carolina. She also recently got engaged.

With all of this, Rishebarger ’10, ’12 still adds yet another important task to her busy schedule: giving back to her alma mater. She donated to the Winthrop Fund on the recommendation of a friend in the Alumni Association. She said it’s important to fund student scholarships.

“My sister was a recipient of the Phelps Scholarship,” she said. “That helped her continue on in her education. I would like to see other people have that same opportunity.”

Growing up, Rishebarger knew she would pursue a career in music.

“My dad is a jazz drummer and pianist,” she said. “He sings in his church choir. I started piano lessons when I was seven.”

Rishebarger loved the “tightknit” music community at Winthrop and earned a degree in education and a master’s in choral conducting. She considers Professor of Music Katherine Kinsey a mentor and remembers Kinsey’s words of wisdom: “You’re only as strong as your weakest member. You have to build up your weaker members, or something’s got to give.”

She also looks up to Professor of Music Ian Pearson, who chose one of her papers to present to a group in the College of Visual and Performing Arts while she was in graduate school.

“It was a cool opportunity to get up and speak about music to everyone else in the arts community at Winthrop,” she said.

Since graduation, Rishebarger has enjoyed instructing her vocal and piano students, especially those she has instructed for the past two years. Her newest project, outside of music? Planning her wedding to fiance Matthew.

“I’ve seen students come in not knowing anything about music to singing in foreign languages,” she said. “They have come a long way, so it’s really cool to watch that growth and know I had a part in it.”

Last updated 6/8/2016

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