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Sasha Gardiner

“Before I arrived in Nashville, to come over to King, I had never before been in America.”
Sasha Gardiner

FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LENS – King University Student Profile

“Before I arrived in Nashville, to come over to King, I had never before been in America.”


Sasha was on her way to America for the first time. An aspiring photographer and up-and-coming golfer, she decided to enroll and accept an offer to play golf without ever having stepped foot on the campus. It was a risky move, leaving England and traveling thousands of miles on a whim, but Sasha, being a free spirit with a creative edge, has always been able to adapt quickly to her surroundings despite being a homebody. “I have a small family and nobody in my family had ever done anything like that. But it was the best decision I could have made.”

Sasha grew up near Gatwick Airport in South East England about 30 miles from Central London. She enjoyed growing up near London because she remembers there was always something exciting going on. She has always had an adventurous spirit, but it was athletics that as a teenager would occupy the majority of her time. As a young girl, it was her father that first introduced her to the game of golf. Golf was important in her home, her father was an avid golfer and fan, and Sasha too took to the sport showing exceptional talent at an early age.

She was very self-driven and played all the time. “By the age of fourteen I had no social life, just played golf.” Her parents both supported her, but they didn’t put any unwelcomed pressure on her to succeed and become a golf superstar. Her time and effort were all by her own design. Toward the end of high school her coach and family realized that she was good enough to play at the next level and hired an organization that assisted with getting kids recruited to play sports in the United States. That part isn’t unique – but the fact that she was also a talented photographer and enrolled in school on a golf scholarship to study photography without ever having seen the campus in real life was definitely different.

Standing in a terminal at Heathrow, Airport in London, Sasha had absolutely no idea how to find her gate. She was lost, somewhat anxious and worried that if she didn’t find the gate, she would miss her flight to Nashville. Off to her right were two other young women. They too seemed confused and Sasha wondered if they also were looking for the same gate. “Are you headed to Nashville too?” Sasha asked. The girls said they were and the three travelers searched together.

While they were looking for the gate they talked, shared stories, and got to know each other. Sasha learned that the women, Alyssa and Ruby, were musicians in a band called The Sisterhood on their way to Nashville for a show. Sasha explained to them that she was an aspiring photographer and dreamed of photographing musicians. It was around this time that she learned that the women both came from famous musical backgrounds. Alyssa is the daughter of Michael Bonagura and Kathie Baillie (of the band Baillie & the Boys) and Ruby is the daughter of famed rock icon Rod Stewart. Sasha explained to them that she was going to Nashville to catch a ride to school four hours to the east in Bristol, Tennessee. The women were familiar with Bristol because of the Rhythm and Roots festival and explained that if they were ever in that area to perform Sasha could come out and photograph the show.

When she had begun looking at possible schools, King was the first school of fifteen that she spoke with. The coaching staff she communicated with was very inspiring and the pictures of the school were warm and welcoming. Even though she had never visited the campus, she felt it was a comfortable place, and in a way almost familiar.

One day Sasha learned that her musician friends would be performing in Bristol, and true to their word they invited Sasha to the show to photograph it. They were so impressed by her talent they approached the head of the Rhythm and Roots festival and gave Sasha a glowing reference, “She goes to school at King and works really hard, you should hire her,” they said.

Sasha arrived at King to study photography and play golf. She says that playing golf provided her a wonderful opportunity to travel around the eastern part of the United States. “I have played golf in some amazing places,” she says with a smile, her favorite being Hilton Head, S.C. Soft spoken and unassuming, she carries herself with confidence and determination. “I always want to improve,” she says.

Sasha’s plans for the future are to become the best photographer that she can and hopefully photograph many more musical festivals and bands in the years to come. Her work ethic, gentle disposition, and perseverance are the characteristics we are accustomed to when discussing students from King.