CRESTVIEW — Evan Stegner, recipient of an Auburn University presidential scholarship and a True Blue scholarship for Auburn alumni's children, says he looks forward to studying engineering this fall.
"I'd like to work for a car company," the Crestview High School senior said. "I'd love to work developing engines. I love gears and transmissions. Moving parts are fascinating to me."
As he transitions from high school to college, the Crestview High band member said his passion for music will carry on.
Stegner said he seeks inspiration from jazz giants.
"Any of the old jazz players — Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, any of those guys — I look up to them," he said. "Jim Hall is probably my biggest influence."
Such familiarity with influential musicians' work impresses his band director, Jody Dunn.
"He is one of the most knowledgeable musicians I have ever taught," Dunn said. "He is also one of the finest performers I have ever had."
Stegner's jazz roots go back to sixth grade and learning the French horn in the Panther Band at Davidson Middle School.
He took up another instrument a year later.
"My mom brought this guitar home from a Dumpster-diving trip and it had two strings on it," Stegner said, laughing. "I thought you played it by turning the pegs."
In addition to maintaining his jazz guitar hobby, the senior — who runs cross country and track, loves biking and anything else outdoors — plans to stay firm in his faith.
The Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church parishioner is an usher and performs altar service during Mass. In addition, he annually participates in a 40-hour fast for Catholic Relief Services.
Stegner has a few tips for incoming freshmen hoping to advance from middle school bands to the Big Red Machine.
"Stay in band," he said. "It gives you a great base when you come to high school ... After you stay in band, take it seriously. Still have fun with it, but do the work and strive to improve."
Stegner anticipates college life; but first, his senior summer job as a Papa John's delivery boy awaits.
"I'm going to work. Lots of work," he said. "I have to make some money so I can help pay for college."