Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Holy Spirit Preparatory School senior Grace Yang, center, confers with fellow seniors Chris Acker, left, and Josh Harris as they work on a project in their Film and Literature class. Yang plans to double major in viola performance and music therapy at Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio.


Through Music, Holy Spirit Prep Senior Finds Healing

By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published May 10, 2012

Holy Spirit Preparatory School senior Grace Yang has experienced the healing power of music firsthand. Diagnosed with autism at the age of four, Yang overcame the developmental disorder, testing out of the diagnosis at age 12. She said she has music to thank for her progress.

“Music can be really helpful,” said Yang, who moved to the U.S. from Japan with her parents as a young girl in hopes of finding treatment following her diagnosis. “I think it’s really important to have music therapy,” as it can have a positive impact.

Since Yang experienced the benefits of music therapy, she has made it her goal to become a music therapist and help other children who struggle with the same challenges she faced growing up. Yang is scheduled to attend Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, this fall and plans to pursue a double major in music therapy and music performance.

Music is not only therapeutic for the teenager, but it also provides a means of escape from daily life, allowing Yang to be free to express herself, especially with others. She particularly enjoys playing in quartets or singing in the choir. She plays the viola and sings alto.

“Whenever I start singing and playing the viola, I just feel so free,” she said. “I am able to express myself more.”

Yang said that Holy Spirit Prep has taught her a lot during high school—and not just lessons relating to education. She learned about different cultures, the power of communication and the importance of helping others.

“Throughout the past four years, I … feel like Holy Spirit really, really taught me everything,” said Yang. “One (of these things) would be the power of prayer. …The other lesson they taught me is how to communicate.”

“I would really like to thank Holy Spirit for that. The community has really nice people, incredible people,” she added.

As Yang prepares for graduation, she reminisced about some of her favorite memories from the past four years. She was excited to go to Panama City, Fla., with her class this year as part of the senior trip. She had the opportunity to spend some time with her friends and also to become closer with people she might not have known as well.

“This was a great time for me to just see these seniors again for the last time,” she said. “Different doors are going to be opening for all of us, and we’ll be going into different directions.”

Yang encourages everyone to be themselves and to not be afraid to share one’s talents. She appreciates the support from both her classmates and her teachers, as she always felt encouraged to be honest and open with herself and others. Sometimes you become afraid but you cannot be afraid to compromise who you are, she said.

You have to be “willing to take any risks,” she added. If you are facing a hardship, you just have to push through it. Be strong and be yourself and you will be successful, Yang said, adding, “I just feel free wherever I go.”