Wayne Pearcy, a jazz musician playing trumpet, has been a recent member of Partners for Youth with Disabilities’ (PYD) mentoring program. At the upcoming Party for PYD benefit event on May 5th, Wayne will be performing jazz music along with Noé Socha and other musicians from the PYD community.
Wayne joined Berklee College of Music in 2007, where he specialized in performance and studied both jazz and classical music. Being a blind learner, however, he encountered many difficulties accommodating to Berklee’s technology-oriented courses. Wayne’s parents had taught him to be a strong self-advocate, which served him well when requesting the extra services and accommodations he needed to thrive. These challenges motivated him to take action to improve the support system for students who are blind.
After extensive efforts working with the college’s disability services coordinator, Wayne managed to start a program for blind students that allowed them access to all kinds of music software in a special lab. The program has turned out to be a great success, serving more than 20 blind students from all over the globe. After completing his music courses, Wayne has continued working at Berklee as a staff member of the program, helping blind musicians adapt to the more and more technological music industry.
Apart from the Berklee program, Wayne also serves as mentor for many students with disabilities. One of them is Winona, a young trumpet player with a visual impairment. Wayne first met Winona at the National Federation of the Blind Conference, where he represented Berklee. After being introduced by Winona’s mother, Wayne began by coaching Winona on how to improve her trumpet playing skills. He helped her overcome the challenges of studying in a college with few blind students, as instructors at Winona’s college were less experienced teaching blind learners.
Over time, Wayne became the most faithful, consistent listener of Winona’s music and constantly gave her feedback and encouragement. He also assisted her in developing her own self-advocacy skills, making college life easier for her. Through continuous mentorship, Wayne and Winona have become truly close friends. “I have been there with her through all things: happiness, sadness, frustration. It’s been a journey for both of us and I have grown a lot,” Wayne said.
Wayne was excited when he first learned about PYD since the organization’s values and mission resonated with his own passion for helping youth with disabilities lead fulfilling lives. Both Wayne and Winona have joined PYD’s Campus Career Connect (C3) program. Through the program’s resources, community and e-platform, Wayne has a chance to expand his network and use that as a catalyst to help more students with disabilities. Being part of the cooperative PYD community, Wayne appreciates his colleagues for their willingness to always listen to his ideas: “I am very grateful for PYD to be part of my life. It has been a great experience and we feel thankful that PYD values our talents and music.”
This post written by Lu Gan, Student at the Boston University College of Communication. She is one of PYD’s BU PR Lab Spring 2016 Account Executives. (Edited by Nicole Malo, with the additional edit help of PYD Team Members.)