• Sarah O'Banion, Choir Director

    "I believe that the liberal arts experience helped me to find a career path I was passionate about, while also helping me have a broad variety of experiences."

Sarah O'Banion '99

Finding a School That Felt Like Home

Because Sarah already had an extensive history with Luther, it was easy for her to decide to enroll as a student. Previous to her first year as a student at Luther, she attended the Dorian Summer Music Camp on campus for four years and the Dorian Band and Vocal Festivals for two years. “All of those experiences were wonderful and allowed me to get to know the campus and some of the faculty,” she says. “When I visited Luther, I felt like I was coming home.”

Life-Changing Experiences

Sarah says the most influential part of her Luther experience was participating in choir. “My experiences in choir as a first-year student led me to change my major from biology to music education,” she says. “Up until then, I thought music would just be a hobby of mine; I had never envisioned that it would be my career.” Her most memorable experiences are rehearsals with Dr. Peter, the Juletide performances, and singing Hope for Resolution for President Baker at his farewell chapel service.

Sarah also believes that her various work-study positions on campus helped prepare her for her future career. “Work study reminded me to be thankful that I had an opportunity for such a quality college education. My parents never had the chance to go to college, so they were always supportive of educational opportunities for my siblings and me.” At different times, Sarah worked in the cafeteria, theatre/dance office, information desk, music office, and as the Dorian housing coordinator. In addition, she was a residence assistant (RA) her sophomore and junior years and an assistant hall director (AHD) her senior year. “Being an RA and AHD helped me develop my interpersonal, leadership, and mentoring skills which were all beneficial to my teaching career.”

Life after Luther

After student teaching in the fall of 1999, Sarah spent a year touring the U.S., Mexico, and Japan with a cast of Up with People. On that tour, she performed community service and a broadway-style musical that promoted diversity. She then taught 6th–12th grade choir for a year before finding her current position as a middle school choir director in Farmington, Minnesota. She graduated with a Master’s degree in music education with a choral concentration from the University of St. Thomas in 2008. During the summer of 2015, she traveled to Ghana to study drumming and dance as well as learn about other aspects of the Ghanaian culture. Of her experiences abroad Sarah says, “Traveling and learning about how others live continues to be a passion of mine that I try to integrate into my teaching as much as possible.”


I believe that the liberal arts experience helped me to find a career path I was passionate about, while also helping me have a broad variety of experiences.

—Sarah O’Banion


 Choir, Future Music Educator’s Association (FMEA), Honor Council, and theatre/dance productions.

Advice to First-Year Students

The Luther experience is about so much more than going to class. Find a way to become part of the community. Stay on campus and take advantage of the wide variety of activities Luther has to offer. Go to every concert and performance you can.

—Sarah O’Banion