Our student spotlight is shining brightly this month on Luka Santin. It is all about music for this Madison 20-year-old who has been composing songs since the age of 10.
Luka is currently a junior at Lawrence University in Appleton working on a degree in jazz and contemporary improvisation, with the long-term goal of being a certified music therapist.
The Council is pleased to recognize Luka as an outstanding scholarship recipient in 2021, for which they received $2,000 toward continuing education costs.
Council writer Teri Barr asked Luka about their specific plans to help others in the future, and how music motivates them to make it happen.
Teri: Why did you decide to continue your education?
Luka: I love to learn, and I need a college education to gain the skills and certifications necessary to become a music therapist.
I am studying under the Bachelor of Musical Arts (BMA) degree program at Lawrence, where I spend half of my time working on music that ranges from improvisation to songwriting, recording and playing piano.
The other half I am learning about psychology. After graduating from Lawrence, I plan to complete another degree in music therapy.
Teri: Could you pursue that degree right away?
Luka: I decided not to and instead chose to attend Lawrence because of the small, tight knit community. The BMA degree is specifically designed and fine-tuned to what I want to focus on right now, which is creating and playing music while also pursuing my other passion, psychology. These two things combined will support me as I pursue my music therapy degree.
Teri: Can you tell me more about those future plans?
Luka: I hope to become a pediatric music therapist, working with children with disabilities. I want to do this because I was a child with a disability. I think I could be a really helpful resource to families and their children who are struggling.
Teri: Are you learning other things about life in general as you continue your education?
Luka: The main thing is that I really enjoy being independent. Living independently with a disability can be very hard, but being on my own has helped me learn how to get around on campus and in the community.
Teri: You also shared some powerful thoughts in your scholarship application. Why did you write, “My drive to be something keeps me working toward a future where I am more than a helpless blind stereotype?”
Luka: I guess what I mean is, because I am motivated to be independent and a successful musician, I want to defy the stereotypes of what society often thinks of people who are visually impaired. There are so many people who have low vision and are very successful. I don’t want my disability to define me or what I can do.
Teri: Is there something that makes you especially proud of what you’ve accomplished so far?
Luka: I have discovered who I am this past year. Realizing I am trans-nonbinary has been such an empowering experience, and it continues to be so liberating for me. I have also learned to start advocating for myself and my needs as a person who is visually impaired.