When Rodney Weir graduated from Coloma High School in 1988 and headed to the University of Michigan, he didn’t know he would end up on national television leading the University of Michigan Marching Band as the drum major for two years. Coloma High School band members also didn’t know they would end up as the beneficiaries of his experience through the creation of the Rodney Weir Scholarship for Coloma Marching Band at the Berrien Community Foundation.
Weir’s experiences with the bands at Coloma and University of Michigan helped him to learn about teamwork, discipline, and the importance of hard work. To help other students who are in band and want to continue at the college level, Weir decided to start a scholarship specifically for local students who are going to continue with band participating at a collegiate level. “I went on to receive a degree in physical therapy and I carry the values I learned from being in the band into my professional work,” Weir said.
He also wanted to do something to encourage students from Southwest Michigan to think and dream big. “Leading the University of Michigan Marching Band was never something I dreamed was possible. But, with some hard work and determination, it happened. There is no reason that other students from area high schools shouldn’t chase big dreams.”
Weir was the drum major during the 1992 Rose Bowl in Pasedena and was proud to have not just his name announced to the large crowd but his home town of Coloma, Michigan. “I ran in the Pasadena Half Marathon in January and it ended on the Rose Bowl Field,” he said. “I stood there and remembered them announcing my name and that I was from Coloma. I would love to provide a scholarship and have another student have that same feeling.”
“This is such a great opportunity for our students,” said Coloma Band Director Cheryl Thomas. “Band teaches so many life skills - leadership, teamwork, commitment, dedication. Rodney Weir is an example of putting those skills to work and going out and achieving your dreams. We are just so thankful for what he is doing.”
The scholarship will begin by offering one $1,000 to a Coloma High School student who intends to continue to play in a collegiate band. Weir hopes to extend the opportunity to other schools as funds become available.
“So many students are overwhelmed by the cost of a higher education,” said Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “These scholarships not only help relieve some of that burden, but also let the student know that someone believes in their ability to succeed.”
Weir is seeking further donations for the scholarship from others who are interested in supporting students who have participated in band and see the value it brings. To support the scholarship fund checks can be sent to:
c/o Berrien Community Foundation
2900 S. State St., Ste 2E
St. Joseph, MI 49085
Online donations can be made at www.berriencommunity.org/donate. Donors should note Weir scholarship in the instructions line.