When searching for universities to attend, Sam Kridgen had three distinct requirements.
“I really wanted a school that was in the ACC; I really liked sports,” Kridgen said. “But also one that had a strong science program and a strong music program because I really loved both of them and wanted to bring them together.”
Now a senior music performance major, Kridgen has been able to do exactly that. She found this perfect blend after a few semesters spent on a pre-med track, eventually deciding to pursue speech pathology her junior year.
“When I was younger I had some singing problems,” Kridgen said, reflecting on one of the main experiences that influenced her decision. “I had nodes, like in Pitch Perfect, and the speech pathologist really nursed me back to health. That has helped me get to where I am today. So I figured why not help the singers?”
In the fall, Kridgen will begin a two-year graduate program at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Institute of Health Professions, ranked seventh in the nation of its kind, specializing in voice disorders and focusing specifically on singers.
“Sam Kridgen has left her mark wherever she’s gone, in her two major areas of science and music,” said Susan Borwick, professor of music. “She has explored the world. She has sung like a magical star on stage. In the future, she intends to help improve people’s speech, language and hearing. Sam will improve life for others wherever she goes, and she’ll surely be longed for, back here at home.”
The Wake Forest music department has been a large part of Kridgen’s home and collegiate experience. Kridgen sang in the choir during the seven semesters that she spent on campus. But her love and passion for music only developed at the Casa Artom house in Venice where she studied abroad in the fall of her junior year.
While there, Kridgen had the chance to meet and work with an expat opera singer who had previously sung with the Metropolitan Opera and had created an opera company of her own in Venice.
“She, along with my professors here, really brought my love of music a little more to the forefront of my priorities because I saw her in action,” Kridgen recalled. “She was running a small opera company and I thought, ‘This could be real? I could do this?’”
The following summer, Kridgen’s questions were answered for her. She received a Richter Scholarship and the Boteler scholarship to travel back to the home of Vivaldi and perform with the very same Baroque Opera company.
“She let me use one of her resident churches to practice in,” Kridgen said. “So I was singing amongst the art, amongst the architecture and getting to experience everything I could. We performed in these old decrepit churches, some with the walls falling down, and it was just so cool to be in that history.”
All of the time spent in Venice crafted Kridgen’s senior honors recital, which she decided to theme on the very city that had further developed her passion for singing.
In the fall of her senior year, Kridgen began preparing for the recital that successfully displayed at least 15 songs and 50 minutes of pure singing — memorized and mastered in the months leading up to the recital in February.
“It consumed my life and it should consume your life,” Kridgen said. “Afterwards I felt so accomplished and supported. And to have all of my friends and family there, it was perfect.”
Aside from her musical involvement on campus, Kridgen has served on the morale committee for Wake n’ Shake, as the entertainment chair for project pumpkin, and as an active member of Kappa Delta.
“I’m going to miss it,” Kridgen said reflecting on her four years. “It’s definitely going to be different not having the support of everyone on this campus and knowing that you’re not alone. Even though there are different groups and everyone does lots of different things, everyone crosses over in some realm.”