When she needed a jolt of confidence, Joe Grant was there.
When she needed a voice of empathy, Bridget Sweet gave her all the time she needed.
A decade later, Sarah Catt (BME ’09) still turns to her two favorite UI faculty members for guidance and inspiration.
“Throughout my undergraduate degree at Illinois, Dr. Grant was my choral director and music education professor," says Catt, the former Elk Grove High director of choirs, who was recenty named an assistant professor and director of choral activities at Elmhurst College.
"He encouraged me and probably had more faith in my abilities as a choral director than I did myself.
“Dr. Grant had this unique ability to maintain unwavering high expectations, while also cracking jokes throughout an entire class or rehearsal. He showed me the importance of mentorships, collegiality and positive leadership.
“Additionally, I started my master of music education degree from Illinois eight months pregnant. I will always remember two weeks into the semester, when I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears in front of Dr. Sweet.
“Instead of running far away from an emotional pregnant woman, Dr. Sweet listened, empathized and empowered me to recognize my own strengths, while also being kind to myself.
“To witness this strong woman and fellow mother lead with kindness in the world of academia has been nothing short of inspiring.
“I am forever thankful to faculty members at Illinois who continue to serve as mentors in my life and in my career.”