Here’s How An Unplanned Trip Turned Into HBCU Band Scholarships For These Students


March 28, 2017

Photo via: San Diego Voice and Viewpoint 

In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky.” Earlier this month, Nathan Haymer, the Director of Bands for the Southern University and A&M College System, went to San Diego with only one intention: to sight see. However, for the students of the Thunder Squad Drumline at San Diego’s Heartbeat Music and Performing Arts Academy, Haymer’s trip became an unforgettable moment when preparation met opportunity. 

During Haymer’s visit to the Academy (founded in 2014 by Grambling State University marching band alumni Tyra Hawthorne) he explained the rich history of Louisiana’s Southern University and A&M College’s marching band, “The Human Jukebox”. The nationally renowned band is one of the nation’s top marching bands and has performed at five Presidential Inaugurations, four Super Bowls, Mardi Gras, and the Annual Bayou Classic. Haymer then told the Thunder Squad Drumline that their sticks are “your key to get out of here, because I came here ready to give scholarships! I want to write a scholarship for you to come and pursue an education, by way of band.”


Just a day after doing unplanned auditions, Haymer emailed three students of the Thunder Squad Drumline and offered them band scholarships to Southern University and A&M College. The recipients were high school freshman percussionist Mekai Cross, sophomore percussionist Kylen Dent, and Olympian and junior Alexandria Payton. Upon graduation in 2018, Payton will receive a full band scholarship to play the trumpet. Members of the Thunder Squad Drumline were also awarded a band scholarship to attend the university’s high school band camp this summer.  

Congratulations to you all! Thank you Director Haymer for using your platform to help students pursue higher education through music. 

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