Student Spotlight: Cara LaVigne ’21 plays to her strengths with writing and music

Photo of Cara sitting with laptop on the left; photo of her playing the violin on the right

English and music both play a large role in Cara LaVigne’s life. A love of reading and English first pointed her in the direction of becoming an English major. However, she also enjoys playing the violin and percussion, among other instruments, and that led her to consider majoring in music. The question was how to fit her two interests together. She found her answer at Bridgewater College.

Having determined that she did not wish to become a music teacher, LaVigne ’21 chose English as her major, knowing that she could join a music ensemble at any time.

LaVigne anticipated using her English major as a stepping-stone to eventually achieve her goal of becoming a full-time author. But she was unsure what path her career would take immediately upon graduation.

When Bridgewater College added the professional writing major in the 2018 fall semester, everything fell into place, and LaVigne decided to double major in English and professional writing.

“I knew then that I was interested in editorial work, as well as the publishing and marketing side of things,” LaVigne said. “I still have the dream of writing novels full time, but I have a practical idea of where I can start and work my way up to that point.”

At the beginning of LaVigne’s sophomore year, an editorial experience door opened when Dr. Alice Trupe, Director of the Writing Center and LaVigne’s academic adviser, connected with her about serving as a writing consultant to other students.

“I was impressed with her energy and her interest in writing,” Trupe said.

Through peer tutoring, LaVigne interacts one-on-one with other students as they evaluate papers together and consider ways to make them more effective.

“My main goal is to help them learn from their mistakes and remember the lessons for future papers,” LaVigne said.

Peer tutoring provides learning opportunities for both the mentee and tutor.

“In the process, both tutor and tutee develop better critical awareness of what makes a written text good,” Trupe said. “Over time, a tutor experiences many such situations and becomes a better writer, as well as an increasingly helpful tutor.”

In October 2019, Trupe invited LaVigne to join her in attending the International Writing Centers Association’s National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) in Columbus, Ohio. While at the conference, LaVigne participated in collaborative learning in which she and NCPTW professionals aided students in becoming self-sufficient writers. 

With the goal to write a book review and have it published, LaVigne submitted a review to The Book Smuggler’s Den, an online literary magazine. During the summer of 2020, LaVigne received notification that the magazine had accepted her piece—a review of Repentance by Andrew Lam—and featured it on its website, as well as in its July issue.

LaVigne said it means the world to her to have something published.

“It gives me hope that I will be able to get other pieces out there,” she said. “It tells me that I am capable of creating something worth being shown to the world.”

LaVigne also shares her talents with others through music. In high school, she auditioned with the music faculty at Bridgewater College on piano and percussion, and received a music scholarship from the College each of her four years at BC. As part of the scholarship, she plays violin in the Chamber Strings ensemble and plays percussion in the Symphonic Band.

“Music has been, and always will be, a large part of my life,” LaVigne said. “If I were to lose the capability to play, it would feel like part of me is missing.”

LaVigne’s mother, a music teacher, instilled in her daughter a love of music at an early age. Her first instrument was the violin, and she started taking private lessons at age 6. In elementary school, LaVigne added the piano and percussion to her list of musical instruments. She continues to expand her musical talents with teaching herself the organ and cello as time allows.

LaVigne says playing music is a needed outlet for relieving stress, as it allows her to be in the moment.

 “I love getting lost in the music as I play,” she said. “Just listening to the right song can rekindle the spark that shoots through my bones and practically brings me back to life.”