Kristopher Ray Rawlins has found a home at Southern Arkansas University and is keeping a positive attitude about medical issues keeping him on campus longer than he had planned.
In the spring of 2013, Rawlins, 20, was a junior vocal education major and enjoyed his campus job and performing with the SAU Heritage and Chamber Singers. But he noticed a worsening discomfort in his throat, like a combination of strep and allergies, while he was singing in his classes and on stage. Doctors said he had to have a tonsillectomy to remove calcified tonsil stones.
He ended up having two surgeries in as many days, and his voice has not been the same since. Doctors restricted him from singing until he could heal.
“It got me pretty down,” said Rawlins. “The drives back from the doctors in Little Rock were the hardest because I knew I was not going to be able to come to back to school. All I had was music and singing classes.”
Rawlins was set to graduate in May of 2014 and was past all his general education classes. He is now working to get his voice back into shape and is waiting back into his music class schedule rotation, but his graduation will be delayed until around December of 2015, he said.
Rawlins is not going to let this extra time go to waste. He is adding another major one might not expect from a vocal education student – finance.
“The finance is more to help my little brother, A.J. He is going into automotive and diesel mechanics and plans to open his own shop someday,” said Rawlins. “I figured I was going to be at SAU anyway, so why not get a major to help my brother.”
Rawlins said his family moved a lot when he was growing up – Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, Highland, Ark., Magnolia, now Pleasant Plains, Ark. But he felt at home at SAU before he even graduated from Magnolia High School because of his job catering on campus.
“I worked for Aramark and got to be in the president’s box at football games. Dr. Rankin and members of the SAU board of trustees won me over with their hospitality and how involved they seemed to be in student’s lives,” said Rawlins. “They always remembered my name and who I was, and it made me feel nice that I was not just another face.”