Mariah Landeros is a 20-year-old junior at Purdue University Fort Wayne, majoring in Music Therapy and her anticipated graduation date is May 15, 2023. Mariah has always desired to help others and shared a passion for music from a young age. She’s excited to marry her two passions in a fulfilling career.
Growing up in Hammond, Indiana, Mariah always felt like she lived in a safe neighborhood with strong community ties. Despite that, it wasn’t until she was older she realized how her family & wider community struggled. “Going to high school and growing up in a high school that was really close to Gary and all of the violence around there was interesting. We weren’t necessarily allowed to do most of the stuff that other high schools I saw were doing. We struggled with money a lot, which I noticed a lot of families in that area do. And even our high school did,” Mariah explained. Her father was in the construction business and her mom stayed at home, working a personal business on the side. Both Mariah and her sister will be the first in their family to earn bachelor’s degrees. And yet, Mariah wants to aim higher, eventually earning a doctorate’s degree in music therapy. “My dad is extremely excited about it, he’s always like ‘You’re going to be the first doctor in the family!’” she said with a thoughtful smile.
Like many other college students, Mariah’s experiences with college have been a struggle. However, as a first-generation college student, many of those struggles can be amplified. Mariah was referred to the Persistence Pays Off (PPO) program through the TRIO office at Purdue University Fort Wayne. The TRIO office is set up with services specifically designed to help students who come from low-income families or students whose parents do not hold a bachelor’s degree (U.S. Department of Education). In other words, it is an office set up with supports for students who are navigating the challenges of college life without the typical supports in place to enable success in college completion. It is a way of leveling the playing field to allow students with less, equivalent access to vital resources needed to complete their degree and find success.
Along with balancing classes, Mariah has a variety of other responsibilities that include an almost full-time job with the local school districts, music therapy practicum sessions, keeping up with household chores, and cooking meals. Time management is of utmost importance when balancing a variety of responsibilities, something that Mariah admits she was struggling with. Mariah’s case manager, through Lutheran Social Services, has greatly helped her learn how to manage her time better so she can more easily balance all of the responsibilities she has. When she was first referred to the Persistence Pays Off program, her car’s engine was broken down and in need of repair. The PPO program also provides limited financial assistance to help a student with specific needs they may have to continue being successful in school. For some students, that’s extra money for books, for Mariah, it was money towards a new engine to allow her to continue commuting to and from classes. Along with helping Mariah with time management and finances, the PPO program also connected her with other resources that allow her to be successful as a student. She is really enjoying the program and is very grateful to her case manager. “I looked forward to the meetings I had with my case manager. She was always so welcoming, and it never felt like a meeting. It always felt like I was just going out with a friend and talking about life. So, I definitely felt very welcomed into the program and not judged with what I was struggling with.” Mariah said.
Mariah has big dreams for her future. When she graduates, she plans to do music therapy in a hospital working with children. Eventually, she wants to open her own private practice where she hopes to work with people with disabilities. She eventually hopes to gain her doctorate degree in music therapy. With such big dreams, she’s so happy that the Persistence Pays Off program has helped her stay on track to graduate to become the wonderful music therapist that the world needs.