Since the age of 6, Anastasia Satterfield has loved playing the piano. At 16, she realized that using her talent to help others just might be her life’s purpose.
Because of her passion for using music to help people with mental disabilities and mental health issues, she was one of 170 recipients nationwide — including 55 Taco Bell employees — to receive the fast food franchise’s annual Live Más Scholarship.
Satterfield, a former shift manager at the Flag City Taco Bell, was awarded $10,000.
While at work on July 25, she was tricked into traveling to another Taco Bell location. There, she was greeted by the franchise owners along with her family and friends, who were anxious to surprise her with a cake and a huge check.
“I walked into the store and everybody was like, ‘Surprise!’ I was just shocked that they put all that together for me,” Satterfield said. “When I saw the check I was just like, ‘Wow, oh man, it actually happened.’ It was just overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.”
For her scholarship application, Satterfield put together a two-minute video explaining her passion for piano and how she would use that passion to make a difference.
When she submitted her video in April, she knew the odds were against her. She expected an email or phone call to confirm whether or not she had been selected, not the big surprise.
“(My brother and I) made the video, which actually included a lot of my family who work at Taco Bell, such as my uncle, my mom, a few of my cousins and an aunt, who all work in Lodi,” she said. “I went out to their store and I took video there. Then I talked about playing the piano and how I wanted to use music therapy to help people with all kinds of mental disabilities and disorders gain control over there own lives. I also told them, how I had been accepted to (University of the Pacific) to pursue that.”
The scholarship will go a long way toward helping her pursue her dream, she said.
“I’m just very grateful to Taco Bell for them investing in my future like that,” she said.
Satterfield always loved music, but stopped playing for a short time as a child. After the brief hiatus, she realized how much she missed it and began playing again at 16.
Her piano teacher convinced her to go to a music camp at Pacific last summer. There, she was able to work with the professors at Pacific and study with other pianists on campus.
After attending the camp and another music event at Pacific, Satterfield knew she wanted a career in music.
“I realized that if I want to learn as much I wanted to know about the piano, I would have to be in an environment like that,” she said.
She began pursing a major in music therapy in University of the Pacific’s conservatory program. In addition to playing the piano, she will learn how to sing and play the guitar.
The 80-year program teaches students how to use music both to entertain and to provide comfort and creative, emotional and mental support to those with mental illnesses, neurological diseases and other disorders.
“We help children with disabilities, we help people who have mental disorders and even people who have Parkinson’s (disease) and especially autistic children,” Satterfield said. “The goal is to see progress, but also to give them some kind of confidence in themselves, and music therapy really is a great way to do that.”
Upon completion of the music therapy program, Satterfield will become board-certified. She is excited to use music to help people.
“I feel that I’ve been so blessed in my life,” she said. “The reason why I exist is just because I want to help people. To be able to use my ability to play music to help someone who’s disabled or depressed ... I feel like there is nothing better than that to do as career.”
On August 15, Satterfield left her job with Taco Bell after three years to pursue her education. She is teaching piano lessons on the side.
“I was very, very sad about leaving,” she said. “Because I was a manager there, I wasn’t just a team member. I helped manage the store that I worked at and so it felt like leaving a family. ... But they were very supportive, and I look forward to going back visiting and maybe working during the summertime if the opportunity presents itself.”
Satterfield is a 2016 graduate of Connecting Waters Charter School, which provides a homeschool curriculum. For Satterfield, working at Taco Bell provided a social environment she missed out on by not going to school with other teens.
“I enjoyed the social aspect of it more than anything when I was in high school,” she said.
Satterfield was very grateful to the Taco Bell customers who donated toward the scholarship fund; without them, she wouldn’t have received the scholarship, she said.
During two weeks of the year, Taco Bell asks their customers to donate to the Taco Bell Foundation, which funds the Live Más scholarship and other support for students.