“You can always come back to Perkins.”
Those seven words were spoken when Kristin Turgeon was just 3 years old and preparing to leave the Infant-Toddler Program at Perkins School for the Blind. The woman who uttered them couldn’t have known how accurate they would be.
Because Turgeon did come back.
This summer, the 20-year-old college student returned to the Perkins campus, volunteering in the same program she attended as a small child nearly two decades earlier. In many ways, it was like coming home.
“I feel like I grew up with Perkins,” she said. “I have so many connections and memories there.”
Turgeon was 18 months old when her parents enrolled her in the Infant-Toddler Program, which serves children ages 0-3 who have visual impairment. She later attended public school in her hometown of Grafton, Massachusetts, before going on to Berklee College of Music, where she’s entering her junior year.
Through all those changes, Turgeon’s connection to Perkins endured. Growing up, she often participated in Short Courses, offered by Perkins for public school students with visual impairment.
“I did a whole bunch,” she recalled. “A music and radio weekend, a ski weekend, a cooking weekend.”
In high school, Turgeon started serving as a mentor to younger adolescents with visual impairment. She found that she enjoyed working with students with disabilities and began looking for ways to combine that with her other passion – music.
She set her sights on a career in music therapy.
“Music is an extremely powerful thing,” she said. “Whether you’re a kid, special needs, or an elderly person with Alzheimer’s, no matter what, you will always respond to music.”
This summer, Turgeon returned to Perkins to volunteer in its music therapy program – and ended up in classrooms similar to the ones she spent her earliest years in.
Surrounded by young children in the Infant-Toddler Program, she sang along during their musical circle time. In the Early Learning Center, she helped youngsters grasp instruments and make music of their own. Wherever she went, she observed music therapists and took mental notes on their lessons and techniques.
In this return to her past, Turgeon was able to envision her future.
“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “It was really interesting seeing (music therapy) in action rather than hearing about it from other people or reading about it in a textbook. That’s the career I really want to do.”
Her mother, Teri, who now works at Perkins as director of Community Programs, marvels at her daughter’s journey.
“I look at Kristin and I feel such an immense sense of pride,” she said. “To see her in that setting contributing and being helpful to other kids…it’s really powerful. She’s come full circle.”