Trading scrubs for the guitar: FSC nursing student takes the stage

Caroline Bryant | The Southern Newspaper Photo courtesy of Robin Cramer | Cramer strumming her guitar.

Kailynn Bannon
The Southern Editor

After spending long hours each day in nursing classes, a sophomore at Florida Southern College grabs her guitar and heads over to a local venue.

Robin Cramer is a sophomore nursing major that goes from bars to coffee shops to display one of her many talents: singing and guitar playing.

Cramer, who also goes by Robin Brooke on social media, is a Lakeland native. After growing up so close to FSC, she decided that it was the perfect school for her to attend. She enrolled in the nursing program while also picking up a music minor.

Cramer has loved to sing ever since she was a child, being involved in musical theater productions in middle and high school.

“I’ve been singing since I was really little,” said Cramer. “It’s always just been something that I love to do.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, she bought herself an acoustic guitar and taught herself how to play it. While learning chords and progressions, she would sing along to whatever notes flew out of her instrument. Cramer finds comfort in simultaneously playing and singing because it gives her a sense of control over her music.

Her first gig was at an open mic night in Winter Haven. However, the night did not go as she planned.

“That was the first time I performed on a big stage, and I just froze,” Cramer said.

After that night, she was ready to give up performing, believing it was not for her. Her family and friends thought otherwise, encouraging her to keep going.

Cramer picked up her guitar and tried again. She got another gig in Lakeland at The Pink Piano, a small bar on South Florida Ave. Because she knew the owners, they helped get her into as many shows as possible for different crowds.

Since then, she has played at The Yard On Mass, Hillcrest Coffee, Haven Coffee Roasters and other bars. While she loves playing these shows, she sometimes feels that same fear she experienced during her first time on stage.

Cramer feels that while her stage fright still exists, it manifests in a different form.

“It’s not as much the people that make me nervous, it’s myself,” Cramer said.

To get over these anxious thoughts, she practices deep breathing before shows. She also pictures her grandfather, who supported her and encouraged her in everything she did ever since she was a kid.

“If I can make that one person proud, then I’ve done good enough,” Cramer said.

Called bright-eyes, she repeats the nickname her grandfather gave to her before she steps on stage. This calms down her nerves before the first note.

While nursing and singing may seem like two different career paths, Cramer believes they go hand in hand. With both nursing and music, she gets to interact with people and have an impact on their lives.

Her goals after school are to incorporate both of her interests in her daily life. Her ideal week would be working at a nursing facility and then playing one or two shows over the weekend.

Cramer is open to whatever opportunities come her way. She thinks it would be nice to have a band after college and play for bigger venues. She also expressed her dream of being a backup singer.

“I enjoy the camaraderie that comes with playing with others more than I enjoy the awkward tension that comes from [playing solo],” she said.

This desire comes from being a group-oriented person. Cramer relies on the people around her that support her no matter what. These people mainly include her family and the close friends that she has made at FSC.

“I am super grateful for the support [from] my friends at school,” she said.

Without her support system, coping strategies and talent in music, she would not be the performer Lakeland knows and loves today.


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