“I’d started taking lessons when I was 11, and I was done,” said the home-schooled Van Hoy, who graduated from Northeast State this spring. “When I was little, I would play the piano and make up my own songs.”
Northeast State Music Professor Tawana Teague told Van Hoy about the College’s Talent Show competition held during the Because of You fundraising campaign in the fall. The temptation was too much. She resumed playing piano and singing with the Northeast State Singers during her first semester.
Van Hoy entered her first Northeast State Talent Show competition in 2016 and earned honorable mention notice. She competed again and won first place in the 2017 competition. She also earned the Performing Arts Annual Scholarship for Music from the Northeast State Foundation.
A Tennessee Promise scholarship recipient, Van Hoy received a music scholarship of $11,500 from Milligan College. She enrolled there and will begin as a Music Education major this fall.
“I try to practice an hour every day and five to seven hours a week,” Van Hoy said. “Between work and school it has been hard sometimes.”
Van Hoy graduated cum laude from Northeast State with associate degrees in Sociology and Speech Communication. She earned the Outstanding Music Student program award and Outstanding Singer award of the Northeast State Singers. She was one of 24 semifinalists for the Outstanding Student Award and was named to Who’s Who Among Students at Northeast State.
“Being here really helped me grow as a person,” she said. “It really helped me come out of my shell and made me a more outgoing and better person.”
While her mom and two aunts played piano for a few years, Van Hoy said she’s the first in her family to push her talent this far. Her younger brother is following his sister’s footsteps albeit with a different instrument.
“My brother is seven, and he just started learning to play guitar,” Van Hoy said. “I tried to teach myself how to play guitar, but I didn’t find it as interesting as the piano.”
Her scholarship application to Milligan involved more than filling out forms. She performed works by Beethoven and Chopin as an audition for the college’s music professors. The audition served as part of the scholarship’s competitive selection process for all applicants. The scholarship also gives her the opportunity to perform with the Milligan choir, expanding her opportunities to play piano and sing at the college.
The scholarship rewards years of dedication by Van Hoy. She expects to increase her practice regimen this summer. Developing her musicianship was an important goal as she continued her education. But Van Hoy said music serves a greater purpose by enriching the lives of others.
“I want to be able to better myself as a musician and improve my overall skills,” said Van Hoy. “Music can help you as a person, but you can use it to help other people as well.”