First Progressions Class Alumna Remembers MYSO

by Michelle Hoffman

Now 24, Progressions grad and MYSO alumna Mariah Weddle has dedicated her career to service to her community.

In 2003, Mariah, then a third-grader, was honored to learn that her school principal had recommended her for Progressions for its inaugural season. She says even then, she “knew that being in the first class of Progressions was something important, that this small group of MPS kids was going to be the start of building diversity in MYSO.” Two years later, she moved on to String Orchestra, and eventually worked her way up to Philharmonia, then MYSO’s second orchestra. Her grandmother would impress upon her that “being able to play music has a great effect on intellect, becoming more proficient in academics.”

As the demands of sports increased, Mariah ultimately decided—with the support of (Artistic Director) Carter Simmons and her family—to devote herself fully to basketball and academics.

After receiving full basketball scholarships to attend Jefferson College (MO) for her Associate’s degree (which she earned in one year) and the University of Indianapolis (IN) for her Bachelor’s degree, she was accepted into the Servant Leadership Master’s program at Viterbo University in LaCrosse, the only program of its kind in the U.S. Mariah is proud to be the first graduate student athlete (2018) in the school’s history.

Incidentally, she didn’t let the cello sit for too long. Mariah was recruited to play in the University of Indianapolis orchestra, offered use of a cello and lessons, and became the first student athlete in its history to be a part of its high-level chamber orchestra, an ensemble of mostly music majors. While in LaCrosse, she taught beginner and intermediate-level cellists at the Onalaska Music Academy for two years.

In LaCrosse, her focus began to take shape: “…it has become my mission to lead as a servant in helping to strengthen those most underprivileged in society.” Currently, Mariah is a unit manager for Lad Lake in Milwaukee, an organization that provides residential care for girls with severe emotional and behavioral issues.

Mariah remembers the mentorship she had at MYSO: her first cello teacher and “in particular, Carter Simmons who pushed me to work hard when I was younger and convince me that I could be good if I worked hard. I really do appreciate what MYSO does for young people.” She hopes to return to Progressions this spring to mentor our current young Progressions musicians.

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