Amid Noise of $45M Renovation, Music That Moves You

Spring 2019 As Seen in Our Spring 2019 Issue
Amid Noise of $45M Renovation, Music That Moves You

Operations manager/musician makes sure that everybody fits right in.

Equal parts skill, creativity, flexibility, and mettle are essential to turn a massive, unpredictable game of musical chairs into a symphony. A little metal, too … Led Zeppelin, if you’ve got it. Just to calm the nerves.

“That’s rock ’n’ roll,” deadpans Campus Operations Manager Sabrina Scarborough, way underplaying the enormity of a continuous, all-hands-on-a-different-deck office shuffle to clear the way for each new phase of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing’s $45 million renovation project. Instead she credits the students, faculty, and staff of the school for not missing a beat amid the rattle and hum.

“We all feel like we’re part of something bigger.”

“Nurses as a profession are adaptable and adjust well. They’re making it work,” she reports of an exercise that has included, for instance, moving 100 people and furniture and supplies from three separate locations in one week. “Some of the faculty thrown together in smaller offices are even finding that they enjoy it.” Complaints about noise? Not a peep. “I really applaud everybody,” Scarborough says. “I think we all feel like we’re part of something bigger.”

But there are moments. “I did tell one person, ‘Go to your office! And wait for me there,’ ” she growls. Mostly, there is harmony that belies the work yet to be done as construction rolls toward 2020. And, mostly, it’s a good kind of busy these days.

On stage as well. Music—rock music (especially Zeppelin), a little Janis Joplin, a dash of Adele—has been her love since she came wailing out of the womb in Kings Mountain, NC. (She moved to Harford County at 14, and to Baltimore and Johns Hopkins in 1997.) Scarborough got her first guitar for Christmas at age 7 and … stand back. “I was a little kid with a guitar and a loud singing voice. It was always like, ‘Could you go somewhere else with that?’ I never thought anyone would ever want to hear me play.”

Turns out they do … turn out, that is. She’s a founder of the Cardiac Arrests, the School of Nursing’s house band. And you can find Scarborough at her “forever” gig on First Saturdays at the Admiral’s Cup in Fells Point. Other regular performances in the waterfront neighborhood are at the Cat’s Eye Pub, a legendary dive. A schedule of gigs is at her website,

Otherwise she’ll be studying toward her Master of Liberal Arts degree at JHU, or extending an overworked measuring tape as she plots out how to fit one more body/desk combo onto an evolving grid. For the Army vet, onetime acting director of lesbian services at Whitman-Walker HIV clinic in Washington, DC, and 20-year doer of everything at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, it feels like just another day in the right place at the right time.

“The community here has made me feel so loved,” says Scarborough. She returns the favor as often as she can, welcoming others to the family as she was. “I’ve met students at Accepted Students Day who ended up coming out to my gig that night. That’s pretty neat.”

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