One of an occasional series of stories about students and colleagues in the Department of Music at Webster University.
Andrew Gibson (BA Music ’13) is doing some fine things at the Freedom Arts & Education Center in Saint Louis.
I visited with Andrew this week to learn more of what he’s done since graduating from Webster University.
Freedom Arts & Education Center serves students primarily in north Saint Louis, providing arts education, academic tutoring, and leadership training. Andrew tells me that the organization is serving between 3,000 and 4,000 students each year. In the arts, the center teaches everything from ballet to graffiti art.
Says Andrew: “I remember thinking ‘I need to take a break,’ so I quit school for a while. And in 2010 all of my gig-economy part-time jobs took a hit with the economy tanking. Everyone was struggling. Six of us were hanging out and complaining, and we decided to make something happen.
“We started with putting together some classes in bucket drumming, creative writing, hip-hop dance — and I started sending it out — to libraries, to home-school coops.
“And then it all happened so quickly. We started teaching classes all the time. I saw how dire the need was, and more in parts of the city, and we decided to focus on that. Arts were the start, but then we moved into academic enrichment and mentoring as well.”
Andrew tells that the center is focusing resources and energy primarily on ‘doing life’ with these kids from north Saint Louis. They share space on a church campus in the Lewis Place neighborhood, and serve the most western parts of the city of Saint Louis, plus some of the suburbs.
“I graduated with a BA in music, and minors in philosophy and audio production. My music business class was invaluable, especially with what I do now. The freedom within the BA degreewas also a major plus as I came back to school. I was doing projects in media and audio classes that were focused on the work I was already doing.”
Andrew is married now, with a family, and he is a living/breathing example of the kind of work we tell our students to expect to do — living with a portfolio of activities and incomes that include gigs, recording sessions, church work, and a day job that almost pays the bills.
And Andrew is yet another example of a student who is doing now something that he never dreamed of doing at 18 years old. This is the story of so many of our alums.
And we are delighted to share their stories!
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