Gaylor Senior Column

Rachel Gaylor made the Arts & Culture section her home.

When I graduated from high school in June 2015, I had it all planned out. I would graduate from KU with a degree in music therapy and a minor in psychology, move back home to Houston, and begin my internship.

Only one of those things happened.  

I never should have been a part of the Kansan. Journalism wasn’t even in my wheelhouse. But then I took a step and my entire life changed.

And I’m not being dramatic when I say that. A step changed my life. In that step, my knee hyperextended, dislocated and in a millisecond, I tore my artery, three of my four ligaments, both my meniscus and a whole bunch of other things. One physical therapist told me that, aside from soldiers recovering from IED explosions, my injury was the worst he had seen.

I spent 13 days in the hospital recovering and moved into a hotel room to finish out my semester. I had turned 19 a few weeks before the event that is now known to my friends and family as “the incident.” I was told to drop out, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.

Gaylor Senior Column

Rachel Gaylor in her hospital room after a successful surgery.

I was always drawn to popular culture; I have the memory for it. I remember everything I hear and almost everything I read. It’s why sports and arts journalism work so well for me. It’s why, in January of 2017, I enrolled in J101 with the memorable Kerry Benson.

After that semester, I considered dropping music therapy. I hadn’t started my practicum yet; I was in a summer internship with FC Kansas City and I just finished my first semester at the Kansan. Journalism seemed to be tugging at my heart strings more and more.

I did not switch. I stayed in music therapy. And in fall 2018, I received my clinical practicum placement: LMH Health Adult Rehabilitation floor. The very unit I was in for eight days after I got injured. The first time I went back, I panicked. But I found myself able to connect with the patients through music on another level because I had been there.

While I love music therapy, journalism is always in my heart, along with the Kansan. My semester duties with the Kansan are as followed: correspondent, reporter, associate editor, reporter, correspondent. It’s fitting I end with the job that made me love it.

As I sit in Murphy Hall less than two weeks from graduation, I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been if I hadn’t taken that step; if I had stayed home from the basketball game or if I hadn’t signed up to pick up my camping groups number during final roll call. See, it was before senior night my freshmen year that I was injured. The sport and team I cared so deeply about was why my life forever altered. After my initial surgery, my first question when I woke up was, “Did we win?” (Don’t worry, we did).

Since then every game for me has meant something; my first game back, my first time drawing for my group (we were group #1), my first-time seeing KU play Iowa State (the team they were playing on that senior night). Then this past March, I had my final milestone: my own senior night. It was a different vibe because there were no senior players to celebrate. For the crowd it may have been just another game, but for me it was full-circle.

I care about basketball deeply. I care about soccer and baseball. But there’s nothing that compares to my love for the arts. Movies, music, television — any art form is special is to me. The creativity and intimacy are on another level. Art is personal.

In high school, I wasn’t in journalism. I never worked for my school newspaper. I was a choir kid and a choir kid only. I love music. And I love music therapy. It is such an incredible form of helping. I get to use music — use elements like lyrics and melody and rhythm; tempo, timbre, harmony, form style. I use all of these to help people whether that is working on language skills or helping with emotional expression. The possibilities are endless with this medium.

It’s why I stayed in the program. It’s why I am moving to Sacramento, California, the midwest of California, in July to begin my six-month internship at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. It’s why I have an amazing group of friends that have constantly supported me long after I was injured. Music is why I am still living and breathing here today.

But the reason I am still in music will always be journalism. During my time in the journalism school, I have rediscovered my love for the arts and for music. I have had the opportunities to interview bands notably New Politics and even an original Power Ranger. I’ve reviewed movies and TV shows and have featured wonderful people at the University of Kansas. I have been told by people that I would make a great journalist. And every time they say that, I know that I will make a great therapist.

So, as I graduate from school in 2019 with a major in music therapy and minor in journalism; as I get ready to move to California for my internship, I say thank you to the Kansan. It was the job I was never supposed to have. But it was the job that led me to where I am supposed to be.