For Class of 2007, Scholarships Ease Pain of Rising College Costs

Joshua Young received a four-year full scholarship  --  valued at about $200,000  --  to Berklee College of Music in Boston. Young, a recent Dominion High graduate, plays the bass guitar.
Joshua Young received a four-year full scholarship -- valued at about $200,000 -- to Berklee College of Music in Boston. Young, a recent Dominion High graduate, plays the bass guitar. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 19, 2007

When Joshua Young, a talented bass guitarist and recent Dominion High School graduate, was accepted into the Berklee College of Music in Boston last winter, he was elated. But the price tag -- more than $40,000 a year for tuition and housing -- made his parents nervous.

His mother, who lives in Sterling, surmised that she could move into a smaller apartment. His father considered taking out a second mortgage on his house in Fairfax. "My parents really supported me," Young said. "They really wanted me to follow my passion."

But in April, they learned they would not have to make such sacrifices. An astonishing performance during a heart-thumping audition had earned Joshua one of seven four-year scholarships from the school, worth about $200,000.

Young is one of many graduating seniors in Loudoun who received grants to help cover the rising costs of college tuition. The 2,800 graduates in the Class of 2007 amassed about $12.2 million in merit- or need-based awards, according to school system figures.

Anne Lewis, director of student services for Loudoun schools, said that number probably will rise throughout the summer as students hear back from schools about scholarships awarded.

Dominion's 240 graduating seniors have amassed about $1.4 million in grants. One student was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, completely paid for by the government, and another received a large ROTC scholarship to Virginia Tech. Many students received smaller grants from a slew of sources.

"We really push students to get those scholarship applications in," Lewis said. "We believe that college is possible for everyone." She said money is available through dozens of community organizations, including the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Rotary Club, as well as national foundations or corporations. Many organizations reward community service in addition to good grades, she said, and colleges often reward unique talents and skills.

Young may have been born with a talent for music, but he didn't know it until he picked up a bass guitar for the first time 3 1/2 ago. His father gave him the instrument for his birthday, with an instructional video.

"When I heard the sound, a really low vibration, it woke up something inside of me," he said.

He and the bass guitar became inseparable. Within a week, he said, he was playing tunes by Led Zeppelin, and digging out all his mother's old tapes and CDs and turning up the volume.

"I learned how to listen carefully," he said. "Bass is very subtle. It's kind of like where rhythm and harmony meet, so it's important to have in a band."

Along the way, music infused his daily life. His father, Carlos Young, a systems analyst in the telecom industry, said that over dinner, his son often would drop out of the conversation and tune into the background music, coming up for air only to comment on an unusual rhythm or harmony.

Passion and talent for music run in his genes. His grandfather and great uncles are prominent musicians in Peru who played with the likes of Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and other salsa and Cuban big bands during the 1960s and 1970s, Joshua Young said. More recently, the half-sister of Carlos Young won the Peruvian equivalent of "American Idol."

Joshua Young's parents emigrated from Peru in the 1980s, and he was born in the New York City area. He moved to Sterling just before the 10th grade and enrolled at Dominion, which he said was a good school where he could focus on academics and music. In New York, he was used to "a lot of bullies and gang fights in school," he said. At Dominion, it was "more peaceful and tranquil," he said. "I was digging the vibe."

He played in the school's jazz band all three years and in the district-wide band for one year. After school, he formed a band called the Pulse with some friends. The group won Park View High School's battle of the bands last month.

But he also looked outside of school for ways to continue growing as a musician. Last summer, he was accepted into a competitive camp organized by one of his musical heroes, Victor Wooten, bassist with the Grammy Award-winning Béla Fleck & The Flecktones. There he was surrounded by talented and accomplished artists who motivated him to take music seriously as a profession, he said.

His father said he hopes Young will continue to build on these experiences at Berklee, where he will be exposed to more great music and musicians. "He's still hidden," he said. "People don't know about him."

But he thinks that some day they will.

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