(Emory Wheel/Yashonandan Kakrania)

The rug was pulled out from under Shayne Goldstein’s (26C) feet when she found out in her freshman year of high school that she might lose her ability to sing, or even to talk, due to a vocal cyst.

Her doctor said the cyst was around six millimeters, the biggest one they had ever seen on a teenager. Due to the size, the doctor told Goldstein that her voice likely wouldn’t be the same after they performed surgery to remove it.

“It was very hard for me to deal with that,” Goldstein remarked. Losing her ability to pursue music was not something she had ever even anticipated, and she said that the prospect of losing her ability to sing was devastating.

Goldstein had fallen in love with music in preschool. As a toddler, her twin brother took voice lessons as a way to help him heal nodules on his vocal cords. Because they were twins and so young, Goldstein came along and participated in the lessons alongside her brother. The voice lessons helped her brother’s nodules, and eventually, he stopped the lessons. But for Goldstein, this was only the beginning — the voice lessons had sparked something in her, and she continued singing.

“Singing was an outlet for me that I found that I could express myself,” Goldstein said. “That’s where I had a voice.”

While her brother initially got her into music, it quickly became a way for Goldstein to differentiate herself from her brother. The twins went to school together and even had classes together, so Goldstein said she was grateful to have music as something that was only hers.  

When Goldstein found out that she had a vocal cyst, she was scared she might lose not only her ability to do one of her favorite things but also a big part of her identity. A few months after her diagnosis, Goldstein had surgery to help remove the cyst and began a long recovery process.

“I couldn’t speak for like two weeks and then I couldn’t sing for three months, and I had to go to vocal therapy,” she said. “Thankfully, everything worked out, and my voice is fine.”

Despite the medical scare, surgery and taxing recovery process, Goldstein was still in love with music. She continued voice lessons throughout high school and even did a pre-professional program at the Manhattan School of Music.

Goldstein said that she loves how she can express herself through music and the flexibility to perform whatever genre and style she desires as a singer. She mainly does classical singing and musical theater, but she also does some pop and is interested in branching out more from her roots. Her love for music is also what brought her to Emory University. 

“I was looking for a balance between … getting a liberal arts education and then also like the music aspect,” she said. “[Emory] was like the perfect balance between the two.”

When Goldstein took a tour of Emory’s campus, she spoke with the Director of Vocal Studies Bradley Howard, which she said helped solidify her decision to apply early decision to the University.

Goldstein is a music and psychology double major. Outside of class, she is a member of the University’s Meals on Wheels club, where she helps deliver food to people in the Atlanta community who are in need. In her hometown, she worked at a food pantry and saw the Emory club as a way to continue this work.  

Goldstein is also a member of the University Chorus, which includes everyone from students to alumni and even people from the broader Atlanta community.

“I’ve been in choirs before, and I’ve never been in such a big choir, and it’s very different,” Goldstein said. “I didn’t know if I’d like it or not, but I really like it.”

Additionally, Goldstein is in a band called “Groove” with other Emory students. She joined earlier this year after Evan Covey (24C), a friend in the band, asked her to join and help out while their lead singer is abroad this semester. Goldstein and Covey had been in a band together in high school, so when she got the opportunity to be part of one again in college, she jumped at the opportunity.

Despite having to overcome obstacles, Goldstein said her love for music has never wavered. She said she’s interested in being a musical therapist, possibly writing her own music or even just doing something with music as a side job. Regardless of what she ends up doing, Goldstein knows that she wants music to be a part of her future. 

“I’ve done it for so long,” she said. “It’s always been in my life and I love doing it … I want to stick with it if I can.”

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Jessie Satovsky (26C, she/her) is from San Francisco, California, prospective majoring in international relations and environmental science. Outside of the Wheel, Satovsky is on Emory's debate team. She loves chocolate, reading, and spending time in nature.