In 2014, Mikayla Jo Ecker met Scholarship Foundation Advising Director Teresa Steinkamp who had visited Mikayla’s high school, Northwest R-1, to help students with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). At Teresa’s encouragement, Mikayla applied for and received an interest-free student loan from The Scholarship Foundation to study music at Webster University. She was also awarded a Bravo Grant from the Foundation.
At Webster, Mikayla immersed herself in music. She worked as a practice room monitor, a recital assistant, and as an assistant to the department of music creating programs for events. In her free time, she played bass guitar in a metal band.
Mikayla says that she struggled in her first few years of college, especially with anxiety while performing. Being in front of audiences was a necessary part of the music performance major she had selected. She says, “I loved singing, but every time I got on the stage, I had a panic attack.” After her sophomore year, she changed her major to music, removing the requirement for public performance.
Mikayla feels that college isn’t just about striving for academic success. For her, it was also a journey of self-discovery. She says that it was important to learn about herself and how she is going to be a part of her community. By senior year, she felt that she had grown, both as an individual and as a performer.
As part of that growth process, she decided that she wanted to take on the challenge of a senior recital, even though it wasn’t required. She selected “Love’s Endeavors” as her theme. She spent a term studying in Vienna with her voice teacher, and her experiences helped her to choose the first piece for her recital: Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte, which translates to “For the distant Beloved.”
As she prepared for her recital, Mikayla researched each musical piece and wrote a short essay on its history and composer. One piece in particular challenged Mikayla throughout rehearsals, and she was apprehensive as the day of the recital arrived. When she performed in front of the audience at her recital, she sang it perfectly. Mikayla is proud of her performance and says, “It was amazing for me to realize what I was capable of.” In addition to Mikayla’s friends and family, Teresa, Mikayla’s Foundation student advisor, watched with pride.
Mikayla graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with a certificate in international language from Webster University in May 2019. After graduation, Mikayla accepted a position as senior sales associate at Music & Arts. She is responsible for lessons scheduling and instrument rentals and sales. One of her favorite parts of the job is visiting school and camp music programs to demonstrate different musical instruments to children.
Her advice to students just entering college is to “hesitate less and don’t be afraid to ask for help.” She also cautions students to cut themselves some slack. She says, “College is a time of adventure, and you should enjoy it.”
Mikayla Jo Ecker
Class of 2019
Bachelor of Arts, Music