MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - This week's Student Spotlight nominee is a high school senior who is gifted with an incredible musical talent.
Connor Singleton, 18, of Myrtle Beach, said she wants to use her music to encourage people. That career means being home schooled, since her passion requires travel.
Since the age of 4, Singleton has been singing. By the time middle school rolled around, she picked up a guitar and started to play. It was one of several instruments she became proficient at.
"I love to do music," Singleton said. "I love to sing and play any instrument I can get my hands on."
Four the past four years, she has worked alongside youth pastor Tommy Moore as student worship leader at Ocean View Baptist Church.
Life, however, took an unexpected turn when she learned she had a heart condition at the age of 14 during a routine visit to the doctor's office.
"I was ready to have the news of, 'You're fine; you're ready to go home,' and I didn't get that news," Singleton said.
Doctors discovered Singleton had an atrial septal defect, a congenital heart defect that affects blood flow to the heart. It required open-heart surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
"The right side of my heart was so enlarged that they didn't know how I was walking," Singleton said.
Ultimately, it was the teen's faith that prepared her for the surgery and its outcome.
"Whatever was going to happen was God's plan; it wasn't in my control," Singleton said she told herself.
Before she went into surgery, there was a peace that came over her.
"I knew it was God," Singleton said.
Since her successful surgery, Singleton's budding music career has taken off. She is currently working on recording an album in Atlanta with one of the country's most talented vocal coaches, Dionne Osbourne, who has worked with Drake and Justin Bieber, among others.
She is also continuing her role as one of the youngest spokespersons for the American Heart Association.
"Just being able to raise awareness for heart disease and stroke has been the coolest," Singleton said. "I've met so many survivors and people."
Then, in August, Singleton will head to Nashville, Tenn. to attend Belmont University. She plans to study songwriting and worship music.
Ultimately, the teen said she is grateful that her open-heart procedure has given her a special connection to her faith and her passion.
"I look back at it now and I'm just so grateful that it happened because it's made me who I am today," Singleton said.