Scholarships: Investing in Extraordinary Students in Need of Support

This is the second article in a series that will focus on those who offer scholarship support through their gifts to Soundbreaking: The Campaign for Berklee.

As Berklee Today goes to press, Soundbreaking: The Campaign for Berklee reached $83.7 million on the way to its $100 million goal, a remarkable milestone as the third year of the campaign’s five-year public phase begins. More than 16,000 gifts from trustees, members of the presidential advisory council, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff contribute to this total.

Berklee student Firas Zreik is a recipient of the Palestinian Student Project Scholarship, an initiative supported by Roger Brown, Linda Mason, and the Sager family.
Berklee student Firas Zreik is a recipient of the Palestinian Student Project Scholarship, an initiative supported by Roger Brown, Linda Mason, and the Sager family.

Within the overall goal of $100 million, a top campaign priority is to encourage generous philanthropists to direct their gifts toward students, with 50 percent of the total for scholarships. We’re right on target with just more than 50.2 percent for student financial support.

Palestinian Student Project scholar Firas Zreik is just one student who has benefited from this much-needed support. “I remember my first day at Berklee, being full of excitement and fear at the same time,” Zreik recalls. “It was one of the happiest days of my life, without a doubt. Little did I know, the best was yet to come. As an international student, coming to Boston has opened my eyes to so many different cultures. In Berklee, there are students from more than 100 different countries. This has made my experience much richer, socially, culturally, and especially musically. I have played so many different genres of music with different bands including jazz, flamenco, Western classical or traditional folk music from different countries and regions.

“I really appreciate everyone who is supporting me and making it possible for me to be here,” Zreik adds. “I could never afford to come to Berklee on my own. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to study and live in such a great place.”

Whether through smaller gifts to the Berklee Fund, which offers unrestricted support to the college’s most pressing needs, particularly financial aid, or through establishing individual term or endowed scholarship funds, these gifts make it possible for students to come to Berklee to earn their degrees.

This is the second article in a series that will focus on those who offer scholarship support through their gifts to Soundbreaking: The Campaign for Berklee.

Linda and Richard (Mac) Hisey

Linda and Mac Hisey
Linda and Mac Hisey

Many people are aware of award-winning alumni who have mesmerized audiences through their work as performers, film composers, and as producers and engineers, but Berklee’s lesser-known programs—such as music therapy—are equally awe-inspiring. Trained music therapists use music through functional and scientific applications to enhance an individual’s social, emotional, educational, and behavioral development.

Music therapists are credentialed professionals who generally are members of a treatment team in a medical, educational, or community-based program. Berklee has trained music therapists who work as near as Boston hospitals and care centers and as far as Uganda and Colombia with child soldiers. Research and experience reveal that music therapy has a positive impact on people who wrestle with challenges that know no boundaries, including those on the autistism spectrum or who struggle with pain, Alzheimer’s, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to name just a few.

Richard (Mac) Hisey, the CFO and senior vice president at Berklee, and his wife, Linda, have long been impressed by the impact music therapists have on people’s lives. When they began thinking about a Soundbreaking gift, they focused on supporting music therapy students, and simultaneously honoring the memory of Mac’s mother. “Linda and I are inspired by the science and impact of music therapy, and know that many students need financial assistance to fulfill degree and certification requirements,” Mac stated. “It means a lot to us to help these dedicated students by establishing an endowed scholarship fund in my mother’s memory.” By creating the Lila Jean Hisey Endowed Scholarship Fund for music therapy majors, the Hiseys will provide lasting support for this group of students.

Tristin and Marty Mannion

Marty and Tristin Mannion
Marty and Tristin Mannion

Berklee trustee Martin J. Mannion is a managing director of Summit Partners, a growth equity firm that invests in rapidly growing companies. Based in Summit’s Boston office, Mannion is active in the firm’s investment activities in North America, Europe, and Asia. During his 26 years with the firm, he has served as a director of many companies, including eight public companies, and has devoted time as trustee to nonprofit organizations with wide-ranging focus, including the underserved, education, and health care.

As a Berklee trustee, he led the ad hoc committee to advise on the merger between the Boston Conservatory and Berklee. Prior to her current work as adviser for the Martin J. & Tristin Mannion Charitable Trust, Tristin Mannion, Marty’s wife, worked as an attorney at Boston firms Deutsch, Williams and Peabody & Brown. With a love for visual and performing arts and a deep knowledge and appreciation for music, Tristin currently serves as a trustee for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. She is also on the board of dean’s advisers for Harvard Business School, and on the board of Strategic Grant Partners. She recently completed eight years of service on the board of New Profit Inc., a venture philanthropy fund.

Well before Marty became a trustee, he and Tristin were dedicated to the Berklee City Music Program, and committed longstanding annual support through the Berklee Encore Gala. As the Mannions contemplated designating their generous gift to Soundbreaking: The Campaign for Berklee, they focused immediately on scholarships. With the establishment of the Mannion Scholarship Fund, the Mannions ensure that a group of the most talented and financially deserving students will be able to polish their musicianship at Berklee. In choosing to create this fund, Marty observed, “Access to a great liberal arts education is one of the challenges facing young people today. Berklee is a leader in the arts field for emerging talent, and we are happy to support students who might not otherwise get a chance to refine their talents. It is an easy investment for us to make!”

Roger Brown and Linda Mason

Berklee is global, with one-third of undergraduate students hailing from 103 countries, campuses in Boston and Valencia, Spain, and a vibrant online community with students on six continents. Robust cultural diversity enriches the college community as students bring their region’s music to add to the exchange of ideas with their peers. The presence of students from all corners of the world is key to a Soundbreaking guiding objective: to create a global laboratory for musical discovery and artistry.

Berklee President Roger Brown and his wife, Linda Mason, have traveled the world, living in Asia and Africa, and have spent considerable time in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. As musicians themselves and with their personal experience from around the globe, they value the energizing impact of rich geographic representation on creative artistry. Reflecting their deep commitment to diversity, Brown and Mason are directing their very generous campaign gifts to open doors to Berklee’s international students who could not attend without scholarship support.

Brown’s and Mason’s first scholarship, established during Berklee’s inaugural Giant Steps capital campaign, brought students from Africa to Berklee. For Soundbreaking, the second comprehensive capital campaign in the history of the college, Brown and Mason doubled their gift, and again support both geographic and artistic diversity. They have created scholarships for students from Korea, Israel, and Palestine, and they have offered funding for the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. Most recently, to support the merger between the Boston Conservatory and Berklee, they allocated the final portion of their gift to support three students, one from each of the Boston Conservatory divisions: music, dance, and musical theater.

“Roger and I believe deeply in supporting students of the newly merged institution—The Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music,” Linda says. “We are delighted to provide scholarships for talented, deserving students from around the world.”


We thank each of these magnanimous benefactors who have chosen to invest in Berklee students and the future of music. These are just a few of the stories of the many who have directed their campaign gifts toward supporting our students who will shape the future of the performing arts. We look forward to sharing more in future issues of Berklee Today