Mateen Milan was 9 or 10 years old when he first visited the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University on a Saturday for the Tuned-In program.
The program offers full Peabody Preparatory scholarships—including weekly private lessons, opportunities to work with accompanists, and outings to concerts and other cultural events around Baltimore—to musically talented Baltimore City youth.
"At that point, I had no idea what Peabody was, but I knew I liked playing the clarinet," Milan says. "That's how I ended up walking through Peabody's doors."
When lots of kids were playing the clarinet and his interest shifted to the bassoon, "they took me seriously," Milan says, "and found me a bassoon."
Today, Milan is a senior at Peabody, where's he studying the bassoon and also serves as a mentor and guide for the program's next generation, completing the circle of support that first brought him to the conservatory.
His studies are supported by Johns Hopkins University's Baltimore Scholars program, which provides scholarships to high-achieving Baltimore City Public School graduates with significant financial need who are admitted to Hopkins. Launched in 2004, the program is a reflection of the university's ongoing investment in Baltimore's students and its schools.
Baltimore Scholars is among the programs supported by Rising to the Challenge, the university's capital campaign, which has raised more than $233 million for undergraduate student aid over the past eight years.
As a high school student at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Milan applied to several colleges. But he said he felt compelled to stay in Baltimore to attend the Peabody Conservatory so he could have the opportunity to introduce more city students to music.
"You'd be surprised to realize the kind of unknown turf that music—and Peabody—are to Baltimore City kids," Milan says. "I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain to people what a bassoon is. I'll pull up my Facebook picture just so they can see what a bassoon looks like. In my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I'd bring friends from my neighborhood to Peabody just so they could see what it looked like. I wanted to see more African-American kids looking in and seeing what's going on here."
As a volunteer with Tuned-In, Milan now has a chance to help other talented young musicians from Baltimore grow and flourish.
"Just like you have to give a plant water to grow, students like me, from adverse backgrounds, need our water," Milan says. "We all need something to help us cultivate our artistic abilities, but also our lives. I wouldn't be at Peabody—or any conservatory for that matter—without someone taking my hand and helping me get here. Funding that supports Peabody hasn't just helped my artistic side; it has helped my entire life."