Three times last week, Cassi Robertson ’20 stood center stage at Sydnor Performance Hall in a sparkly silver mini dress, belting out the 1937 Irving Berlin classic “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” That performance, part of the music department’s annual holiday show, “Unwrap the Magic of Giving,” was one of her favorites at the University of Lynchburg.
“The Christmas concert with the wind symphony and orchestra has always been my absolute favorite,” Robertson, a 2019 Sommerville Scholar finalist, said. “I love the community members that come out to support us, and the performance is always very high energy.
“My solo this year was more challenging, as it was my first time singing a jazz selection. Each night of the concert, I had more fun and confidence as I discovered my abilities in this new genre. It was a great experience, being able to spread my wings and try something a little out of my comfort zone.”
Mark Craig, Robertson’s voice teacher at Lynchburg, agreed. “I think she did a very good job with that, as well as the group singing,” he said. “She has not sung in that style — jazz — as much, so it was great to give her that opportunity to shine in a different way.”
Craig went on to praise his student as a “fabulous human being, talented and very smart. She will obviously go far in her chosen profession and continue to be a team player and a leader for those around her. She lifts others up while remaining firmly rooted in her own foundation and experiences.”
In addition to the annual holiday shows, Robertson has lent her talents to several ensembles at Lynchburg, including the Concert Choir, Lynchburg Singers, and Opera Workshop. She was also the winning vocalist in Lynchburg’s 2017 and 2019 concerto/aria competitions.
Robertson, a music performance minor, said these experiences have given her the chance to use “the more artistic side of my brain.”
As for the other side of her brain, Robertson, a biomedical science major, will spend the spring semester working on her Westover Honors thesis, “Mycobacterium smegmatis-derived lipoarabinomannan dose response in RAW 264.7 murine macrophages.”
In short, Robertson explained, “We are trying to find out how tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, affects immune response cells — macrophages — in the human body.” The goal, she continued, is to use her findings to “begin down the path of understanding why tuberculosis is so virulent and potentially improve the treatment process.”
While Robertson said she enjoys the “hands-on experience” of scientific research, she ultimately sees herself in patient care. After graduating in May, she plans to take a gap year to prepare for the Medical College Admission Test and apply to medical school.
“I’m currently in search of a clinical job for the next year after I graduate, entertaining the ideas of anything from research technician to scribe to pharmacy technician,” she said. “Ultimately, I wish to become an anesthesiologist with perhaps a focus in regional anesthesia.”
And if there hasn’t been enough on her plate this year, Robertson spent her weekends this fall shuttling back and forth between Lynchburg and a job at Kings Dominion, a theme park near her hometown of Glen Allen, Virginia.
“I’ve been working at Kings Dominion for five years, going on six now, mostly as a lifeguard and instructor during the summer season,” she said. “This year, I decided to branch out and be a supervisor for the other two seasons, Halloween Haunt and Winterfest.
“Because of the work schedule, I traveled home every weekend. I found I had to restructure my schedule and get all my schoolwork done during the weekdays, as there was no time on the weekends. While it was a challenge, I feel it only improved my compartmentalization and time-management skills.”
Robertson also credits the University of Lynchburg family with helping her make it all happen. “I cherish Lynchburg and the opportunities it has to offer,” she said. “A lot of what makes it possible to lead an eclectic college career is the dedication of the faculty members.
“Nearly everyone I have interacted with seems invested in my other endeavors outside of the classroom. Friends and peers are also crucial for making it through busy and tough times of the semester. This support system significantly helps my ability to maintain focus and balance.”