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Jaylee Sowders

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

Hi everyone! My name is Jaylee Sowders and I am a junior music therapist at the University of Dayton! I am also pursuing a psychology minor, thesis research, and lots of other cool leadership opportunities while completing my coursework. Outside of music, I am a second degree black belt, an avid LEGO builder, and a plant parent!

Since I am the first student in 2023 to write a blog post (yay!), I wanted to talk a bit about what my life looks like as a music therapy student, how I navigate work/life balance, and maybe talk a bit about what my recent experience in the world of social media advocacy for music therapy has been like!

Before I begin talking about my everyday life and schedule, you should know that I am a hardcore 3 on the enneagram assessment- I am passionate, incredibly ambitious, and driven. I think this is important to know, as what is a fulfilling schedule in my life may not be for everyone.

During the Spring 2023 semester, I am enrolled in 20 credit hours, which includes my 5 ensembles. I also work a LOT of jobs- 4 ½ is what I usually tell people. I am a Resident Assistant, a Desk Assistant, the Programs Coordinator for UD’s music department, the Clarinet Specialist for Mad River Middle School, and I sometimes babysit on weekends. I also currently serve on our university’s music therapy club executive board as the Service Event Coordinator, and I was recently given the opportunity to serve as the student representative for the AMTA DEI committee.

My friends have made it clear that this is quite a lot to be doing all at once, and yes, they are right. However, I have set up routines and measures to help guide my own wellness which has led me to lead a pretty ideal work/life balance for me. For the past two years, I was involved in biweekly therapy sessions which really helped me learn about my values, how to manage my own anxiety and PTSD, and how to establish my boundaries. Without this treatment, I don’t think I would be the happy and grounded individual that I am now. Over time, I learned that I thrive when I am busy, and feel most fulfilled when I am helping others in some capacity. Each class, role, and opportunity I put myself in contributes to this vocation in some way. I also have developed a proactive routine for managing my anxiety and prioritizing my wellness, which helps me succeed both in these roles and just as a person. I think sometimes we might confuse work/life balance with simply just limiting our work. Instead, I find what is most helpful for me is to prioritize myself and increase the time that is focused on myself and my own growth, and sometimes that can also intersect with my work, which is an incredible privilege.

Along with learning more about my own lifestyle and preferred ways of working and living, I have been engaging more in social media to share my story and advocate for music therapy. If I could recommend one thing to new students, I would say investigate the professional sides of social media. As our profession is still small and new, social media has become one of the most powerful networking and advocacy tools. I have made so many amazing connections through my own account @jayleesowders_music and through my takeover on the @musictherapyednow account. Overall, the connections I’ve made through this platform have been revolutionary for my development as a person and an SMT, so I am incredibly excited to see what’s next in my journey!

Thank you all, and always feel free to reach out :)

Jaylee Sowders

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