Kaleigh L., 21 – FUNDED

Despite struggling to be taken seriously in her pursuit of music, Kaleigh L. has never wavered in her career goals and her dreams of making classical music more accessible to all. This Paliwal Club of 100 Music Scholar is a Choral and Vocal Music Education major at the University of Southern Mississippi.

What is your professional dream?

My professional dream is to be both a performer and educator and make the enjoyment of music widely available to everyone.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

It means that I am part of an exceptional group of women from all around the world who are all dedicated to pursuing their dreams and sharing their passions — which is something so incredibly special to me. I feel uplifted, powerful, and capable of anything by being part of this group, as we all motivate each other to never stop succeeding!

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

We can provide them with more opportunities, such as the 1,000 Dreams Fund, to focus on their passions and give them the support they need while doing so. As a society, we need to be more comfortable with having difficult conversations about gender and representation — especially in regards to how we could all be doing better to be more inclusive.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

I have often been told that pursuing a degree in music is a waste of time, or that I should have chosen to be a doctor or lawyer. I struggle being taken seriously as a musician, educator, and as a woman in this field — both because music is seen as unimportant, but also because the classical music field is plagued with gender bias to this day.

I often feel that I have to work harder and longer than my male peers to gain the same recognition they do. Even still, many times no matter how hard I work, it never feels like enough, and this can be a very discouraging feeling. Yet, I have never wavered in my love for music or my passion for this career, and I use these hardships to fuel my desire to keep making the classical music field a welcoming one for everyone.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

It will help me to complete my research on Women’s Vocal Pedagogy, which I can then use to help elevate women in the classical music scene. Vocal science, health, and history is a constantly changing field, and I want to help continue its positive and inclusive growth.