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From left, Jelan Charles, Joshua Bedeau and Roshunda Dorset-Headley

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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”

That quote by Scottish writer and poet Robert Louis Stevenson is posted on the crowdfunding donor wall of three T&T scholars, at Northern Illinois University (NIU) Joshua Bedeau, Jalen Charles and Roshunda Dorset-Headley, who are desperately trying to raise funds to cover their tuition.

All three are pursuing degrees with specialisation in steelpan performance at NIU.

The programme is one of the most renowned and respected in the world but the trio, who are in their first semester has already racked up late-payment fees and are struggling to raise US$10,000 to cover health insurance, living expenses and other costs for the two-year programme.

The university’s School of Visual and Performing Arts launched a crowdfunding initiative, JJR Steelpan Relief Fund (SRF), on October 18 but are still well short of the target. In keeping with this campaign’s stipulations, donations can be made via the platform up to November.

Although faced with financial challenges, Bedeau, lead for JJR SRF, said they are wearing their T&T colours with pride and thinking positively, hoping that donors will come forward to help them continue their academic dreams.

Bedeau and Charles, graduates of the UWI, St Augustine, and Dorset-Headley, who did her first degree at UTT, have already accomplished quite a lot, including their bachelor degrees in music, with a specialisation in steelpan performance. Dorset-Headley graduated from her programme with honours.

“We were all aware that the journey to the US and the entire experience, would be expensive, but we believe that it’s all worthwhile,” Bedeau said.

“On this journey, we cannot do it alone, We need your help! The three of us combined are composers, transcribers, arrangers, tutors and multi-instrumentalists.”

They say the NIU post-graduate degree will help them surpass what they thought was their fullest potential. All three say their main goals is to complete the programme and diligently pursue their dreams to “improve the steelband community in T&T and wider world.

The steelpan studies programme at NIU, which attracts students from across the globe, was created by the late G Allan O’Connor, who in 1973 the first person to establish an actively performing steelband in an American university.

In 1987, he created a steelpan major field of study within the NIU School of Music. O’Connor was appointed NIU’s head of percussion studies in 1968 and served as associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts from 1989 to 2000. He retired from NIU in 2002.

The programme is now under the direction of T&T-born Professor Liam Teague, presidential research, scholarship and artistry professor, professor of music and head of steelband studies at NIU. Steelpan majors receive one-on-one instruction from Professor Teague and also have the opportunity to learn the basic principles of steelpan, building and tuning from Yuko Asada music instrument technician and an alumnus of the NIU steelpan programme.

The overall cost of the programme for Bedeau, Charles, and Dorset-Headley includes US$51,288 plus health insurance of US$14,688, US$3,000 for living expenses.