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Human services major and music minor Erica Brooks came back from a study abroad trip in Kenya and alternative spring break trip to Guatemala in the spring of 2011 and felt inspired to make a difference by using skills she had learned in her courses.

Brooks’ music mentor Kenneth Liske, associate professor of music, education and human services, directed her to the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh where there was interest in starting a music program for club members. The Boys and Girls Club staff was instrumental in helping start the program, which now offers guitar, drumming, keyboard and singing sessions.

“We originally created the program with a curriculum similar to what you would find within a grade school music class including guitar, music writing, singing and movement,” said Brooks. “However, we quickly demolished such an idea because we realized we did not want to copy what the students were already doing at school; now, we simply listen to different variations of music where we sit, move around and dance.”

Brooks said she’s been proud of the students who have gone home after class and come back the next day with a musical goal that they want to achieve.

“It makes me feel good that I am helping make a difference to students with music, because music has made such a difference in my life,” she said.

After Brooks graduates May 12, Alice Evans, a newly hired part-time employee with a love for music and a talent for working with club members, will take over the program.

“There is always some sort of sadness in leaving a program that you have been a part of from the beginning,” Brooks said. “However, just because I will no longer have a direct contribution in the program does not mean it is the end for me. I look forward to coming back in the future to see how the program has progressed and to visit with the members I have gotten to know.”

As of now, the grant that funds the music program only allows female club members to participate. However, they hope to find donors or other grants that will allow us to involve the male club members.

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