Making ideas a reality

Feb 27, 2024Neesha Hosein
Steel drum band

Promoting student success is a top priority at San Jacinto College. The Student Success Initiatives grant helps turn bright ideas into success stories.

The Foundation offers College employees the chance to apply for a grant that supports programs and activities that promote and encourage student achievement through the Student Success Grant Program. This grant program can help foster a culture that ensures all students have access to the resources and support they need to thrive.

Grant success stories

Lynne Brandt, music and audio engineering department chair, Central Campus

Brandt described the process as “putting together a proposal, a budget, and getting quotes” and usually takes anywhere from “a few days to a week.”

The grant helped purchase sets of equipment for the MUSI 1192 classroom.

“This course involves instruction on how to play the guitar and is a required course for audio engineering students working on either the certificate or the associate degree,” Brandt said. “Students are required to have a guitar for class, and this is often a financial burden for many. By providing a loaner instrument, students can plan/save/budget for this expense over the semester rather than having to face this from the day one.” 

With the SSI grants, Brandt purchased similar classroom for MUSI 1188 (Class Percussion) and MUSI 1181 (Class Piano).

“Additionally, this is not a one-off project,” Brandt said. “Since students are issued the instrument for the duration of the semester, we can help students each and every semester with these instruments.”  

How does this promote student success?

Students can enroll in the course without having the financial burden of purchasing an instrument right away. Brandt explained this also gives the instructor time to help students learn how to select an instrument that is in good working order and at a price point where quality is not compromised.  

Brandt encourages others to apply as “the application process is relatively easy to navigate and can fund instructional projects big and small.”  

musical notes

Michael Mizma, director of percussion studies, Central Campus

Mizma used the grant to supplement departmental funds to commission new compositions for his steel band and bring in guest artists for a short residency and world premiere concert.

“The SSI grant has been the only way that we have been able to stage epic world premiere performances and have amazing guest artists,” Mizma said. “We are extremely grateful for the assistance. For instance, this year we commissioned and performed a new six movement work for steel band by our composer/guest Dave Longfellow. This spring, we will stage the world premiere of "Dancing on Steel" in collaboration with the South Campus Dance Department - a first time endeavor!”

Bringing a unique cultural and musical experience for students

The composer and choreographer for “Dancing on Steel” are from Trinidad.

“The excitement of the world premiere performance and visiting guest artists always increases student success, improves attendance, and shows our students that, even if they don't believe in themselves at first, that they are capable of accomplishing something they never thought possible,” Mizma said. “It is not uncommon to hear a student say, ‘Wow! I didn't think I could ever do this!’”

Mizma shared that this is even more special with the fact that almost 70% of the students have never played a musical instrument prior to joining the steel band, and almost 100% of the students have never played a steel pan before joining.

“This experience will be, for many, the most intense and best musical performance experience of their lives,” he said. “In addition, we always have our guest composers write two movements that can be performed en masse with our seven community groups from area public schools. These performances are huge, over 80 pan players on stage making music together!”

Mizma believes this is good exposure for the College’s events as these community groups increase the audience attendance and makes known that “San Jacinto College Central Department of Music and Audio Engineering is the real deal: Creating cutting edge, high quality musical performances.”

This also creates an opportunity to expand the literature base for this new family of instruments, the steel band.

Mizma believes the SSI grant is a fantastic way to get the support needed to dream big.

It makes the educational endeavor so much more fun for me as a teacher while I am spreading the artform to an ever-increasing audience. I love coming up with a musical/artistic dream and seeing it come to life on our stages. This is not possible without the support of the Foundation SSI grant.
Michael Mizma
director of percussion studies, Central Campus

For more information about the San Jacinto College Foundation, visit:

Steel Band
2024 San Jacinto College Steel Drum Band

To see the San Jac Steel Band in action see the events below:


Dancing on Steel, presented by San Jacinto College Music and Dance

When and Where:

Friday, May 3, 2024, at 7 p.m.

Central Campus Slocomb Auditorium

8060 Spencer Hwy.

Pasadena, TX 77505


Saturday, May 4, 2024 at 8:15 p.m.

Miller Outdoor Theatre

6000 Hermann Park Dr.

Houston, TX 77030

Admission: Free

Categorized As