By Misty Wick At the heart of every activity is leadership, and at the core of Music for All’s values is leadership, and Team SWAG is designed to be a living testament to results gained from the development, assertion and practice of strong leadership skills. Team SWAG is a volunteer group consisting of the most dedicated college students, graduate students, band directors and others interested in music education. Team SWAG’s mission is to ensure that everyone associated with the Symposium has a positive experience and an opportunity to grow as a person. Students, directors and clinicians have been amazed by the spirit, hard work and dedication put forth by the Team. SWAGs play a major role in the success of the Summer Symposium, serving as camp counselors, staﬀ assistants and role models to the student participants. It’s an unmatched example of the service given to support Music for All and it’s mission to create, provide and expand positively life-changing experiences through music for all. During the SWAG dinner on the last day of the 2011 Summer Symposium, surrounded by 57 of her closest fans, Fiona McGowan received a $1,000 tuition-based scholarship in honor of her exemplary leadership skills, academic excellence, and commitment and passion for music and arts education. This year marked the first year that a SWAG Summer Symposium Scholarship was oﬀered to the Team. SWAG alumnus, Anmol Mehra decided that the best way to show his gratitude to Music for All was to honor a current SWAG with a scholarship. “Music for All is a truly amazing organization, and my experiences at the Summer Symposium as a camper and a SWAG taught me many life lessons,” says Mehra. “I wanted to award a scholarship to a deserving SWAG who demonstrated excellence in music, leadership, academics and exhibited a positive attitude and selflessness during the camp. Fiona embodied all of those qualities and much more. I have no doubt that she will go on to be a very successful music educator and more important; will be a positive role model for those lives she will touch along the way.” McGowan wanted to give back to the camp somehow, because she had a great experience as a camper in 2006. McGowan’s director at Illinois Valley Central High School suggested she attend the camp since she was to be the drum major the following year at her school. McGowan has been volunteering with Team SWAG for the last three years. She writes in her essay, “That week positively changed my attitude and perspective of life, and music was the event that allowed me to have that amazing experience. I realized that music could change the world for the better, and I wanted to be one of those people who actively made a positive diﬀerence in the lives of others.” McGowan will be a senior this year at the University of Dayton, where she double majors in music education and German. “It wasn’t until attending camp that I even thought about going into music education,” says McGowan. “But because of attending camp and having a positively life-changing experience, it made me realize that those who have changed my life were the music educators.” She explained that because she believed so strongly in the lessons and goals she took away from her camp experience that she knew she wanted to give back in the same way. “Serving alongside several of my personal heroes would be such an honor,” says McGowan. Just being selected to receive the scholarship was a big deal for McGowan, particularly being recognized as the outstanding SWAG for 2011 amongst her peers. “This scholarship means more to me than any other scholarship I’ve ever received,” says McGowan. “It was such an honor to be awarded the scholarship among the other SWAGs who applied. I was just volunteering—I don’t do this for the recognition.” SWAGs are truly a shining example of the excellence and power that music and arts education has on a person’s life. The SWAGs live out the concept of existing to serve others. Being chosen as a SWAG is like earning membership into an elite club for the best of the best, and McGowan is no exception. In her application essay, McGowan writes, “Befriending my hero, George Parks, through my time as a SWAG constantly inspires me to be a living representation of his integrity, knowledge, and passion; skills that are necessary to spread the gift of music for all.”
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