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Jennifer Knapp performing live at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Grammy-nominated performer reflects on time at PSU before return

Jennifer Knapp, Grammy-nominated performer, and former Pittsburg State University (PSU) student is set to return to Pitt to perform for the first time in 25 years at PSU. Knapp will perform Saturday, Feb. 22 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

“…the invitation to come back really does feel like an opportunity to genuinely celebrate the roots of where I came from, the impact of the people who have been so much a part of (my life),” Knapp said. “It really has a lot of value to be able to give back.” 

Knapp attended Pitt State beginning a major in music before switching to psychology. Knapp never completed her degree at PSU, leaving around her junior year. 

“It was about my junior year I was starting to get recording company interest and I got offered to go on a tour,” Knapp said. “I thought I’d take a year off and go do a tour and I really didn’t put a lot of stake in having a professional music career.  I thought I’d be back to school after that but somehow it took off and now 20 some odd years later and I’ve never been back.” 

Julie Allison, professor of psychology and counselling, had Knapp in her classes and worked closely with her during her time at PSU. 

“Jennifer was a great student,” Allison said. “She demonstrated self-discipline in achieving her academic goals. She was just getting into her music at the time, so really had two full time jobs and had to balance being a student with being a musician.”  

Knapp credits much of her start in the music world to being involved in on-campus groups such as the Fellowship of Christian athletes’ group. 

“I am not by my nature a joiner of groups, and particularly as an introverted person I undervalued how much it meant to participate in other special interests around campus outside of studying,” she said. “They really are the glue that makes your life meaningful, so without question I don’t know I would be playing today if it weren’t for those on-campus groups.” 

Knapp said by saying “yes” to opportunities given to her to play, she was able to grow her music. 

“I just kept saying ‘yes’ to people who asked me to play,” she said. “I didn’t really have aspirations to this line of work… I started playing a lot of worship music with the fellowship of Christian athletes’ group, I started getting very active in my church. I started really exploring… my music career early on was very faith-based… and people just kept asking me to play.” 

Knapp said she is very excited for the opportunity to return to Pitt State to perform and give back to a place that shaped her life so heavily. 

“No matter what you end up doing, it’s really important to go back to those places that really shaped your life and be able to not just drive through it but to really interact and get into the environment and be able to really appreciate not just the nostalgic portion but to really value the moment,” she said. “I deeply appreciated my time at PSU… how exceptional and how approachable my university experience was. … build relationships with your professors, build relationships with students…”  

In 2012, she also returned to receive The Department of Psychology and Counseling’s Outstanding Alum Award after Allison was able to get in contact with her.  

Allison believes inviting former Pitt State students who have led successful lives post-graduation is important. 

“It is important to invite successful alumni back to our campus,” she said. “This not only acknowledges their success but can inspire current students to imagine themselves in places that perhaps they’ve never imagined before.” 

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