NIU Steelpan students crowdfunding receives attention in Trinidad and Tobago

NIU Steelpan students crowdfunding receives attention in Trinidad and Tobago

A crowdfunding campaign supported by the NIU School of Music and the NIU Foundation to help support the expenses of three NIU Steelpan Studies graduate studies from Trinidad and Tobago was recently featured in their home country’s largest newspaper, The Guardian.

Joshua Bedeau, Jalen Charles and Rashunda Dorset-Headley know the challenges of being international students, but the three are not letting them stand in the way of pursuing their master of music degrees with an emphasis in Steelpan Studies.

With about ten days remaining, the crowdfunding project had generated more than $4,200 in donations, but was still not at the halfway point. The three students will use those funds to cover the costs of their health insurance and living expenses as they work towards degrees that they plan to use to change and impact the steelband community in their homeland and all over the world.

You can support the three students through the JJR Steelpan Relief fund by donating online. The relief fund will help aid Joshua, Jalen, and Rashunda (JJR) in their educational journey, and allow them to fully focus on their degree and make the best out of every opportunity.

Graduation Stories: Angie Redmond, MFA Paining, Museum Studies certificate

Graduation Stories: Angie Redmond, MFA Paining, Museum Studies certificate

Angie Redmond received her MFA in Painting with a museum studies certificate, and was one of many NIU students who were able to attend an in-person graduation ceremony over the weekend. Angie’s story was featured in the master’s degree commencement video.

Also featured in commencement videos were Music’s Izabella Gieron and Theatre and Dance’s Jill Belluomini.

Graduation Stories: Izabella Gieron, BM Music Education and Violin Performance, independent study orchestral conducting

Graduation Stories: Izabella Gieron, BM Music Education and Violin Performance, independent study orchestral conducting

Izabella Gieron was one of a brand new group of NIU alumni to be able to attend an in-person commencement ceremony. She earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Violin Performance with independent study in orchestral conducting. She was also featured in the commencement ceremony video. Here’s her story.

Also featured in commencement videos were Art and Design’s Angie Redmond and Theatre and Dance’s Jill Belluomini.


NIU’s “Thousands Strong” Virtual Events Celebrate Huskie Pride

NIU’s “Thousands Strong” Virtual Events Celebrate Huskie Pride

In celebration of our positive impact throughout the world, Northern Illinois Huskies and friends of the university are invited to participate in the NIU Foundation “Thousands Strong” virtual events, which will take place Nov. 18-20.

From 7-7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, NIU will commemorate all that makes NIU extraordinary. The Opening Night kickoff show will include an inspirational and entertaining lineup on YouTube Live, with NIU President Lisa C. Freeman and special celebrity guest Joe Minoso, M.F.A. ’04, who plays firefighter Joe Cruz on the NBC drama “Chicago Fire.” Minoso’s unique NIU story and post-graduate experience in theater and television make him an ideal as star for this tribute to Huskies’ success.

This event, which borrows its name from a famous line of “Hail NIU,” the University’s alma mater, will honor the outstanding alumni and donors who help make NIU an engine for innovation, creativity and social mobility. It will also feature inspiring stories of scholarship recipients who are making their dreams come true.

If the kickoff show reaches 1,000 total views, it will unlock $100,000 towards student scholarships, thanks to a special giving challenge instituted by NIU Foundation board member John ’74, M.S. ’75, and Anne Landgraf, ’73.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and going through 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19, the Huskie community will come together for an online Day of Giving, supporting the NIU Foundation’s incredible scholarship and fundraising opportunities.

Alumni and friends are asked to dig deep and pull together to show that we are truly “Thousands Strong” by making a donation or being a champion for this important day of philanthropy. Gifts of all sizes will go a long way to helping ensure the next classes of Huskies have what they need to make the most of their time on campus.

Additionally, if 2,000 people donate, at any amount, during the Day of Giving, it will unlock another $400,000 challenge towards student scholarships, courtesy of the Landgrafs.

In addition, over the last few weeks, alumni and friends of the University had the opportunity to upload videos of themselves describing why they are proud to be among the “Thousands Strong” who represent NIU. On Nov. 20, the NIU Alumni Association will select video submissions to include in a special “Thousands Strong” highlight reel on its social media pages, which will also include some exciting celebrity messages.

To learn more about how you can take part in this special event and change NIU history for the better from your favorite spot on the couch, visit

Grad profiles – Dajhumbay Russell

Grad profiles – Dajhumbay Russell

The spring class of 2020 hasn’t had a traditional conclusion to their studies, but they do have a lot of great stories.

Over the summer months we’ll be profiling some of them.

Dajhumbay Russell

Dajhumbay RussellDegree Earned: Bachelors of Arts in Music Education and Music Performance
Hometown: West Bloomfield Michigan
High School: Homeschooled through Accelerated Christian Education program (A.C.E)

What are some of your best memories of your time at NIU?

  • NIU Steelband for all six years
  • Rides to and from performances with my band mates and the performances themselves
  • Got to perform with steel pan greats like Andy Narell, Victor Provost, Leon Foster, and our very own professor Liam Teague
  • NIU Huskie Marching Band my first year
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Jazz Combo
  • Going to the football games (when I had time)
  • Lastly, the many people that I met that made the experience so much fun and inspiring. My peers and the daily journeys we embarked upon. Ha ha.

What’s next for you?
Now that I’ve completed my degree I am looking to start teaching music in the public school system. I’m open to teach in Illinois (of course) Michigan, and/or Florida. I will also continue what I’ve always loved to do which is perform at many different venues over the summer. Gigging will always be a part of my professional career. Looking further down the path I’d like to start a private lesson studio where I will teach students how to play the steel pan, drum set, and piano.

What’s one piece of advice or something you learned that you know you’ll be leaning on as you start the next phase of your career?
One piece of advice I’ve learned is that you should always be looking for ways to improve yourself. Never stop growing. However, make sure to pat yourself on the back for the accomplishments you have made and be confident in yourself. There will always be people who will criticize what you are trying to do. Stay true to yourself.

How was your experience at Northern different than what you expected when you started?
Something that was different from what I expected in my first year were the people I spent my free time with. I spent a good deal of time with friends from a slightly different demographic from my own. Between the steel pan studio (consists of all pan majors) and people from drum line, I was welcomed into more of a family type of environment than one might expect their first year.

If you could thank someone, or more than one person, that you didn’t get a chance to thank before you left, who would it be and what would you say?
It would be Professor Liam Teague, Lynn Retherford, and Dr. [David] Maki.

To Liam:
Thank you for all that you poured into my life. Thank you for teaching me to reach for the stars and to always be aware of my progress. Thank you for always keeping it real with me and being more than just my professor. You’ve been a mentor and a true inspiration! I’ve learned so much just from your work ethic and dedication to your craft alone. I feel blessed to have been your student.

To Lynn:
Thank you for all of your assistance and support. As the music students always say you’re the one that we come to when we’re in need of serious help! You’re like a superhero. I can’t count how many times I came to you with issues regarding registration, licensure and just day to day questions and every time you were able to help me in some way or another! So, I thank you so much for always being a helping hand.

What’s something you’d like to come back to do one more time?|
That’s easy! Come back and play with the NIU Steelband just one more time!

What are some of the things you’re most proud of from your time at Northern?

  • Greatly improving  my musicianship both on paper and practice
  • Getting to trade solos with Victor Provost (truly an Honor)
  • Performing at Virginia International Pan Fest
  • Performing with the Chicago Sinfonietta at the Chicago Symphony Center
  • Producing a great senior recital

If you could give some advice to the high school class of 2020, what would it be?
Always be true to yourself, but be open minded and hear people out. Choose your professors/classes wisely and your friends even more wisely. Enjoy every moment of this experience! Meet new people. Go to as many events as you can without sacrificing your homework. Take breaks. Get yourself a great study buddy. Always have a plan! Face every obstacle with courage. Be confident in what you do know but also realize you don’t know everything. Most Importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! That is one of the most mature things you can do.

Keep an eye out for more profiles of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts class of 2020.