Many students exiting high school dream of going to a prestigious school, but many find themselves unable to pay for the experience.

David Morris’ dream did not end, even though he lacked a large sum of money.

Morris, 18, of Farmingdale, was an active member of Hall-Dale High School’s music scene, including chorus, concert band and jazz choir. Not only did he participate, Morris excelled, becoming a member of the Maine All State Chorus and All State Jazz Choir.

Deb Large, music teacher at Hall-Dale High School, said Morris’ ambitions have been evident for a long time.

“He has a real focus. He has no other major in his mind,” Large said. “Kids like him deserve a college education.”

Morris whittled his choices of schools down to Ithaca College and the University of Southern Maine with an interest in pursuing music. Morris thought his opportunities would be more abundant in New York, even though it was the costlier option.

“My family has always told me that I have the potential to make it big in the world,” Morris said. “Staying in Maine wouldn’t give me that option.”

Morris is the first of his family to go to college. As a parent of six children, Morris’ mother couldn’t afford to co-sign her son’s loans. Morris moved out of his house to live with his grandmother during high school. Despite his unorthodox situation, Morris doesn’t think his mother is responsible for these struggles.

“I don’t blame my mom, because she is raising six children,” Morris said. “It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but I didn’t know where else to turn.”

Ithaca College has leading programs in music and is a destination for many budding musicians to practice their craft. However, with prestige comes cost. Initially, Morris’ cost of attending Ithaca College is $58,865. With a generous helping of financial aid, Morris was able to reduce his rate 70 percent to $13,000.

“It’s one of the top music schools in the country,” Large said. “It’s a tough school. It’s a very intense degree. I recommend it to serious music kids.”

Through popular crowd-funding site GoFundMe, Morris raised $3,950. Donations came in from as far away as South Carolina. Initially believing it was a shot in the dark, Morris wrote letters to celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, asking for co-signers.

Morris reached out to the Ian Parker Foundation, a Hallowell-based project run by Chris Vallee and several local community members, for help finding a co-signer. Ian Parker, who died unexpectedly in 2011 at age 27, was a staple of the Hallowell music scene, playing in multiple bands as a guitarist and vocalist.

The Ian Parker Foundation’s mission statement, according to its Facebook page, is to foster “the growth and betterment of music in Central Maine by offering assistance in education, developing skills and improving the quality of life and careers of its musicians.”

Morris received a scholarship of $500 from the foundation, but the unique situation that Morris was in inspired the members of the foundation to do more. At The Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell, which is co-owned by Vallee, the remaining chunk of money was raised for Morris.

Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker, the foundation’s financial officer, said foundation members were moved by Morris’ story.

“We did say that that was somebody we wanted to support,” Walker said. “It was such a unique circumstance that we would fundraise for.”

Morris is grateful to the community for rising around him to help him realize his dream.

“I honestly didn’t think it would be as successful as it was, and I am so thankful for everyone that helped,” Morris said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: