A Boardman High School senior is hoping to start college on a high note after being awarded a scholarship to pursue his passions.
Senior Miles Spearman was surprised Wednesday evening during the annual band concert with an announcement from the Taco Bell Foundation that he had been chosen as one of the ten recipients of a $25,000 Live Mas Scholarship.
Spearman said the surprise was one for the books.
"It was honestly amazing. I had to look up other words for excitement, because it was truly, genuinely excitement, because I had no idea. Like usually sometimes, you'll kind of have an inkling or have like a feeling, I had absolutely no idea," he said.
Spearman is planning to use the scholarship to attend the University of Cincinnati in the fall.
"I plan to dual major in biomedical engineering and music and use that music theory and use the research opportunities that I'll have at the University of Cincinnati to combine the two to figure out if there's any music impact, or if there's any previous research that I can build upon," he explained.
The high school senior's unique pitch struck a chord with the Taco Bell Foundation earning him the honor.
"When he first introduced his video, and we were watching it, he was like I'm passionate about two different things, and it's crazy, but I want to combine them," said Shannon Tweed, a Taco Bell Foundation Marketing and Events Coordinator. "Music is such a deeply personal thing that it restores memory, and we were like that is exactly how we want you to, not only tie your passion in but with something that's educational and tangible and ultimately create change in the world. So Miles was the perfect person to be able to receive this scholarship, and we're thrilled."
Music has been a passion for Miles for years. He began playing trumpet in fifth grade.
Timothy Tuite, a music instructor at Boardman High School and Spearman's trumpet tutor, said it was meant to be.
"I remember the first time I met miles," Tuite said. "He was in fourth grade going into fifth grade at that time. So I remember watching him open the case and pick up a trumpet for the first time. "It was already pretty clear that he had a lot of natural ability and he was a hard-working kid. Which I mean, that's a good combination."
Soon after, Miles discovered his second passion, medicine.
"Sophomore year, I took the class anatomy and physiology because I wanted to learn more about how I can better my body to play better on the trumpet. So it was to better my trumpet. But I learned about the respiratory system at the very end of the year, and I didn't get anything from it," he said. "But during the second nine weeks, I was very interested in the neurological science of anatomy and physiology. I noticed that there are so many diseases that are not cured. I feel like since music can touch so many people, and as Stevie Wonder says, it's a language all in itself, that there's a way I can connect the two and maybe find a cure."
Spearman said, "Not to solve Alzheimer's disease really, but to find a cure. So I know there's no real cure for it right now, so maybe through my research or maybe through the music and learning more about it, i can find a way to connect those two bridges, and getting the Live Mas Scholarship really felt like they believed in my vision to be able to do that."
A vision that his teachers feel sure he'll accomplish.
"It's not surprising that Miles would have that ambitious of a goal. and I think he'll do it," said Tuite. "He's a joy to be around, and he's the type of person that can get people to collaborate."
"It's really humbling to watch a kid like Miles because he's effortless to teach, I mean he's the definition of teachable," Tuite continued.
Thomas Ruggiere, the director of bands at Boardman High School, echoed the sentiment, saying how proud the department is of Spearmen.
"He exceeded every expectation we had of him, musically," Ruggieri said.
But as other high schoolers spend their summers working or enjoying their time off, Spearman plans to get a jump start on his mission, meeting with faculty on campus.
"It starts around June 21st. This is going to give me that foot in the door for more research opportunities, because I'll be able to talk to faculty already before I'm even a freshman and to be surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of other engineers who are really passionate and trying to make a difference in the world," he said.
He's hoping his passions can bring music and science into harmony.