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May 3, 2021

CIM Preparatory Programs Celebrate the Class of 2021

Posed photo of 11 middle- and high-school students, all standing with their instruments in front of a gray window shade. There are three female and eight make students, between them identifying as Black, Latinx and White.
2019 Pre-College and Musical Pathway Fellowship students | photo by Robert Muller

Following a year like no other, 16 young musicians  will graduate from CIM Pre-College, Musical Pathway Fellowship and Young Artist Programs this spring. Most plan to continue their musical studies after graduation, and all have CIM to thank for a successful senior year.

Dakota Sipusic, a senior voice student of Jennifer Call, travels from Youngstown to Cleveland every Saturday for CIM Pre-College. “My mom found the Pre-College program for me and I’m so glad she pushed me to apply because this program has been incredible. I’ve learned so much and it’s been an amazing experience.” Dakota spends her Saturdays with eurhythmics led by Graham Rosen, learning music theory from conservatory faculty Sam Bivens, as well as Advanced Chamber Choir and voice lessons led by Call. In addition, during the week, Dakota has taken secondary piano lessons from Weizhen Yang.

“The teachers here are so genuine. I didn’t know how big of a difference it would make. The CIM faculty will push you, but they won’t let you sink, they’ll help you swim.” After high school graduation, Dakota plans to study voice and music theory. “I’m looking forward to college this fall! I feel like I’ve learned so much and I can start college with confidence because I know what it will be like.” Dakota is currently deciding between two schools, and will make her final choice by National Decision Day on May 1.

“She’s very sad to graduate from the program – she looks forward to every Saturday,” says Judy Sipusic, Dakota’s mom. “College is definitely going to push the boundaries of who students are and they will have to grow a lot very quickly. Having an experience like CIM Pre-College helps jumpstart them so they’re more prepared for the coming years.”

Six of this year’s graduates are in CIM’s Musical Pathway Fellowship (MPF) program – sponsored by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation and KeyBank Foundation – designed for Black and Latinx students entering grades 5-12. As a ninth grader, Damian Goggans successfully auditioned for the inaugural class of fellows in 2017.

“MPF prepared me to make a choice,” says Damian, now a senior at Cleveland School for the Arts and classical guitar student of Erik Mann. “I didn’t expect to have to do everything for senior year online: virtual tours for almost every school, virtual auditions. But MPF helped me with everything I needed.” As a senior, all of Damian’ college auditions resulted in acceptance for fall 2021, including multiple full scholarship offers. “Without being in this program, this probably wouldn’t have been possible.”

CIM Young Artist Program (YAP) student Charlie King also has CIM to thank for a successful senior year. “Being in YAP this year has been incredible. CIM is an unmatched musical community, and, as I've found out this year, an amazing place to meet new people, and make friends.” Charlie joined YAP as a senior in 2020, studying with Afendi Yusuf. “When I graduate from high school and enter conservatory, I will be taking with me a wealth of knowledge that I could not have gotten without YAP.”

On her experience as a CIM Preparatory Program parent, Sipusic reflects, “it’s definitely worth everything and [students] will take things away from their experiences that you will not be able to imagine until you start to see it happening in them. If you want to give your child a chance at their future, there should be no hesitation.”

The 16 students in CIM Preparatory Programs’ Class of 2021 were accepted at the following 27 schools: 

  • Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music
  • Boston Conservatory at Berklee
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • Cleveland State University School of Music
  • Curtis Institute of Music
  • Eastman School of Music
  • Guilford College
  • Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
  • Interlochen Arts Academy Postgraduate Gap Year Program
  • Ithaca College School of Music
  • The Juilliard School
  • Kent State University School of Music
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • Mannes School of Music
  • New England Conservatory
  • Northwestern University Bienen School of Music
  • Oberlin Conservatory
  • Ohio State University School of Music
  • Ohio University School of Music
  • Peabody Conservatory
  • Point Park University Conservatory of Performing Arts
  • University of Akron School of Music
  • University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
  • University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
  • University of Southern California Thornton School of Music

Applications to join CIM Pre-College and Musical Pathway Fellowship are open until May 15. Learn more.