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Connection, community, and success: the Young Artist Mentorship Program

Jul 27, 2022, 10:00 AM by National Flute Association


In 2021, NFA members Mily Harrod and Jeiran Hasan founded the NFA Young Artist Mentorship Program. An initiative supported by the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, the Young Artist Mentorship Program (or YAMP, as we call it) pairs college students who belong to traditionally marginalized cultural groups with professionally established mentors from similar cultural backgrounds. Through one-on-one mentoring sessions and full group gatherings, YAMP provides its participants with career development resources, dedicated personal guidance, and a supportive network of like-minded artists to share the journey with.

Last year's cohort was an exciting launchpad for connection, inspiration, and expansion. Learn more about YAMP's inaugural activities by reading the blog post "Catching up with the Young Artist Mentorship Program."

This year, six new young artists took part in the program:

  • Jett Calderon (Wichita State University)
    • Mentor: Jeiran Hasan
    • Project: Grant-writing for funding for summer festivals 
  • Gabrielle Davis (University of Texas at Austin)
    • Mentor: Brian Dunbar
    • Project: Start and manage a professional chamber ensemble (woodwind quintet)
  • Nicole Moriel (University of Texas at San Antonio)
    • Mentor: Catherine Ramirez
    • Project: Compile a pamphlet of music education resources to advocate for music education at the state/government level
  • John Nguyen (University of Texas at Dallas)
    • Mentor: Jeiran Hasan
    • Project: Grant-writing for a recital featuring music by LGBTQIA+ composers
  • Drew Shipman (Northwestern University)
    • Mentor: Brian Dunbar
    • Project: Learn how to start a consortium for new music for band, celebrating underrepresented (especially LGBTQIA+) composers
  • Kyrese Washington (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
    • Mentor: Catherine Ramirez
    • Project: Start and design a website

“I am so proud of the eleven mentees we have had this year!” says program co-founder Jeiran Hasan. “Their project ideas have been so inspirational and I know they have bright futures ahead of them.”

Each mentee met with their mentor multiple times throughout the semester for career development conversations and activities. All mentors and mentees also met several times as a group. Mentee Kyrese Washington shares, "I really enjoyed the group sessions and hearing about what the other mentees were working on."

The 2022 YAMP journey began at the beginning of the calendar year. During the first couple of group meetings, participants engaged with a variety of topics, including resume-building, branding, interviewing, leadership skills, and professional paths for folks with music degrees.

YAMP meeting 1-25-22

In March, YAMPers met with performer, teacher, recording artist, and arts leader Caen Thomason-Redus. “Caen shared many of his professional and personal life experiences with the cohort, which ultimately led to a deep and vulnerable discussion about each mentee's values and the impact they want to make in their communities,” says program co-founder Mily Harrod. “Caen challenged all of the mentees to look within themselves to ultimately build bigger goals for their future."

YAMP second cohort meeting March 2022 with Caen Thomason-Redus

In April, participants were treated to a presentation by jazz flutist, recording artist, performer, and radio host Kim (Scott) Strickland. Jeiran Hasan shares, "We talked about thinking back to how our flute and music stories and journeys began and how we can take that same energy and passion and apply it to what we are doing today!" 

YAMP second cohort meeting 4-9-22 with Kim Scott Strickland

At the final group meeting, each YAMP participant presented on the progress they were making with their chosen projects. 

Gabrielle Davis presentation

YAMP second cohort Jett Calderon presentation

YAMP second cohort John Nguyen presentation

Mily Harrod celebrates the success of these young artists, noting, "Through YAMP, our students have won numerous grants, founded chamber music ensembles, commissioned works by composers of marginalized cultural backgrounds, and so much more."

Mentees all expressed enthusiasm for the program, noting the connection they experienced with their mentors, the presenters, and each other and their gratitude for the opportunity to learn about aspects of the music business and professional world that they hadn't previously been exposed to. 

 "The NFA's Young Artist Mentorship Program created a community I didn't know I needed,” says mentee Drew Shipman. “Connecting with flutists from marginalized identities helped me feel grounded and inspired throughout the semester. I learned valuable lessons from my peers, mentors, and guest speakers that I will certainly carry with me throughout my career as an educator and flutist."

Mentee Jett Calderon sums it up: "With the NFA mentorship program, I was able to truly express myself with flutists who have the same passion and background as me!"

YAMP second cohort final group meeting 5-14-22

Does this sound like something you’d like to be a part of or an opportunity that would benefit somebody you know? Applications are now open for the next cohort! Click here to learn more.

Personnel note: YAMP co-founder Mily Harrod has been hired on as the NFA's new membership manager and thus will no longer be directly involved with the program. She says, “I want to take this opportunity to thank the NFA Board of Directors, staff, and Diversity and Inclusion Committee for their support of our program. Thank you especially to Dr. Brian Dunbar and Dr. Catherine Ramirez for their service as mentors and the dedication they’ve shown to our students. Lastly, I extend special thanks to my co-founder, Dr. Jeiran Hasan, for her insight, wisdom, and partnership as we’ve worked to build this program. With my new position as the membership manager of the NFA, this semester was my last having direct involvement with YAMP, but I know that the program is in fantastic hands, and I look forward to supporting their endeavors as a member of the organization’s staff.”

Want to support programs like this and ensure that the NFA can continue to make an impact? Make a donation.