Young Ambassadors performer Sarah Sun, a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 17, hopes to share her love for music and faith in Christ through her musical talents.
Ever since she was little, Sun has had a special affinity for music. She started playing piano at age four and by the time she was five, she managed to memorize 18 pieces and held her first recital. Sun said the piano came naturally to her, and has since become interested in all aspects of the performing arts.
From the piano to the flute, trombone and percussion in middle school, Sun has been musically involved throughout her whole school career. She has performed as a piano soloist at Carnegie Hall and has played with professional symphonies across China at age 14. At age 17, she was a soloist with the Utah Symphony.
“In middle school, early high school, I’d be practicing like six to eight hours a day,” Sun said. “Growing up, whatever I did, I wanted to do my very best at it.”
Sun said her parents’ love for her really motivated her. She said her mom always emphasized that, “On earth we need to develop our talent so that we can be more useful instruments in the hands of the Lord.”
After high school, Sun completed her freshman year at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. It was not until COVID-19 that her life made a complete 180-degree turn.
One of Sun’s really close friends, Barbara Madson, suddenly passed away in March of 2020, right as Cornell was sending students home due to COVID-19. Madson was one of the senior missionaries that first taught her about the Church. She was a mentor, friend and emulated the example of Jesus Christ.
Sun said she recognized the hole Madson left in their community. It was through her that Sun felt the pure love of Christ and learned what it meant to be deeply important to someone and truly seen by them.
In light of Madson’s passing, Sun wondered, “How can I be like Barbara for somebody else now that she’s not there to be that for (me)? The only way is to really commit to living this gospel. To love as she did is to love as Christ did.”
Not long after, Sun decided to put in her mission papers and was called to the California Riverside mission with a special assignment to the Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego. She said if you want to be a service-oriented person, you have to go serve.
Sun said through her mission, her perspective on life changed, and she allowed herself to let go of the world’s definition of success in pursuit of God’s definition of success.
“Before, I thought I had to be impressive in order to serve, that I had to have credentials in order to be qualified to help people. On the mission, I realized that so much of it is about simply taking action, because serving has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Christ.”
She discovered that the most spiritually impactful acts of service were oftentimes simple, seemingly small and unrecognized. She learned what it means to have faith and how to find the courage to receive and act on personal revelation.
Abigail Lundberg, Sun’s mission companion, said Sun had the capacity to lead, learn and to see others deeply, always being quick to recognize and appreciate the strength of others.
“She was really good at lifting people up, and then like being their cheerleader and being a hype woman for anyone at any time. If they asked, she was totally there,” Lundberg said.
After coming back from her mission, Sun wanted to place herself in an environment that would be conducive to the ways she wanted to continue shaping her character, while allowing her to expand her intellectual knowledge of the gospel. She transferred to BYU the next semester and is majoring in music and minoring in international strategy and diplomacy.
“Something else that really drew me here was the opportunity to be on Young Ambassadors,” Sun said. “I feel like it combines all the things that I care about: service, missionary work and performing.”
Before she left for the MTC, Sun was listening to different BYU speeches and she heard the Young Ambassadors was the first American university group to go to China. She was shocked to hear that BYU was a pioneer in facilitating Chinese-American relations, and that it accomplished this via the performing arts.
Sun said she always felt doing missionary work in China would be a big part of her life’s purpose, so she felt deeply connected to the organization. At first, she was discouraged by her past vocal mentor to audition for the Young Ambassadors, but she auditioned anyways saying, “it’s a good thing I believe in a God of miracles.”
Sun is now part of the Young Ambassadors team and said it has been a spiritually enlarging experience.
Laurel Hornberger, former Young Ambassadors Singing Entertainers supervisor, said Sun “just lights up the room. It’s the light of Christ just shining through her.”
Hornberger said she brought a light to YASE that inspired people on a personal level. Through the sharing of her music, to her joy, to making everybody in the room happy, Sun has impacted and became a role model for others.
Sun hopes her music and performances can touch someone’s heart and be able to make someone develop the desire to become different. Sun was crowned Miss Aspen Hill 2022 and through this new platform she has, she hopes to spread awareness about the needs of Utah’s incarcerated population.
“I’ve felt the impacts of the atonement on my life and I have witnessed deeply how people can change and how deeply Jesus Christ can reach people,” Sun said. “I know that everybody deserves a second chance and people can change.”
Sun volunteers at the Utah State prison by performing piano for the inmates. She takes song requests and hopes to share “light in a place where light is so desperately needed.”