Passionate signer Montecuollo shares powerful message

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Talent. Passion. Faith journey. These words describe the personal passage of VCSU sophomore Sarah Montecuollo, the winner of the VCSU 2017 Homecoming talent show and a VCSU Difference Maker. Sarah has combined her life’s passion for bringing music to the deaf community with her education at VCSU. Sarah is a music education major, and through our collaborative education program with Lake Region State College, she is supplementing her music education degree with a certificate in American sign language and interpreting. Sarah takes her signing classes from Lake Region right here on the VCSU campus.Sarah’s talent has been shared with and appreciated by many of her friends and family. It is moving to watch her sign to music—so moving, in fact, that it earned her first place in the talent show as she signed with great energy and confidence. For her performance, Sarah stood next to a large screen that depicted a collection of images she arranged from the Las Vegas shooting, Hurricane Harvey, and school lockdowns/shootings, as she signed to the song “Bleed the Same.” Through her performance, Sarah wanted to bring home the fact that our country continues to be divided over issues such as skin color, gender, religion, and politics. She called on our community to put away our differences and come together. Quoting Jason Aldean, she shared, “At the end of the day we aren’t Democrats or Republicans, whites or blacks, men or women. We are all humans and we are all Americans and it’s time to start acting like it and stand together as one!” At the end of the video, she delivered a call to action to make a difference by helping to bring the country together. (The link to her performance can be found at only did the audience and judges respond enthusiastically, so did the singer Mandisa. Shortly after the contest, Sarah was moved to post the video and sent the link to Mandisa’s manager. Mandisa replied directly to Sarah: “Well now I’m crying Sweet Sarah…I am so honored and so incredibly blessed watching this. You are amazing. Thank you!”Sarah’s passion for signing was evident in the performance, as it is in her life. I asked Sarah how she became so intrigued with sign language. As she was preparing for college, she realized she needed to take a foreign language to qualify for the North Dakota state scholarship. One option was American sign language. She was immediately drawn to this option as she felt it would be both physical and impactful. She was right. Her skills are not only bringing awareness to the hearing community and inclusiveness to the deaf community, but she is also helping her family members and father communicate through sign language as he slowly loses his hearing. Some might consider this a lucky coincidence, but Sarah believes it’s part of her faith journey.