Sharon C. Carelock: A Singular Creative Force
When Sharon C. Carelock 05Ox 07C decided to change careers and landed a job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she discovered correlation with the skills she mastered as a professional stage producer, dancer, choreographer, mentor, and teaching artist. The demands of managing a stage production mirrored the challenges of her new role as an executive assistant, and her extensive training in the performing arts equipped her with the self-awareness, endurance, and flexibility needed to succeed at the CDC.
Her career change was driven by an aspiration to achieve the hard-to-find balance between a life rich in artistic expression and the demands of a challenging career. "Things are constantly changing in our life paths. Working as an artist, I knew how to see the bigger picture. I knew how to turn a collection of ideas into something impactful. I wanted to put together the different parts of myself and turn them into a fulfilling life," Carelock says.
As a student at Oxford College of Emory University, Carelock transitioned from an insulated homeschool environment to a supportive, inclusive college campus. Emory students, known for their passion and ambition, along with faculty members, created an environment where Carelock pursued mastery both on stage and behind the scenes. Immersed in the creative community at Emory's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, she developed soft skills like attention to detail, compassionate leadership, organizational management, and self-confidence—highly valued in any industry. Her dedication culminated in dual bachelor of arts degrees in dance and theater.
Taking advice from mentor Gregory Catellier, an Emory professor of practice in dance, she invested herself in real-world experiences for five years before pursuing further education. Working with prominent Atlanta performance groups like Lucky Penny, Moving in the Spirit, CORE Dance, and DanceATL, she produced, managed, and choreographed shows that debuted at the respected Rialto Theater. Sally Radell, former chair of Emory's dance department, noted her growing prominence and invited her back to Emory to share her experience with undergraduates.
Catellier also recognized her development. He agreed to pen a letter of recommendation for Florida State University's master of arts program for dance. Carelock entered the program aiming to unite her diverse spectrum of skills and her real-world experience into a singular creative force.
After graduation, an unexpected shift occurred in her capacity to dedicate time and energy to managing stage productions. The grueling pace and long hours had become challenging to sustain. Additionally, the self-isolation mandated by the COVID–19 pandemic stymied her artistic expression. She found herself questioning her career path and reflecting on the nature of creative work.
In the search for answers, she turned to two influential texts: The Portfolio Life by Emory graduate Christina Wallace 05C and The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Both books encouraged her to explore introspectively what truly brought her joy. The Portfolio Life taught her to manage aspects of her life like a financial portfolio, evaluating each with thoughtful analysis. The Artist's Way has guided artists in unblocking personal and creative barriers for decades. These books clarified her need to make space to nurture her creativity while seeking security, balance, and growth.
Today, alongside her dynamic career at the CDC, Carelock creates artwork that reflects her deep creative force. Instead of spreading herself thin, she invests time in herself, emphasizing the quality rather than the frequency of her artistic expression. Reflecting on her accomplishments, she says, "I've never known how to just be one thing, but I've become someone who can sit with that and decide where best to devote my soul and energy."