Ball State University has earned much national recognition, but not many endowed funds have received the attention that the Rebecca Reichert Scholarship Fund has garnered. But then again, not all fund honorees have had connections to the rock band Goo Goo Dolls.

In December 2006, the rock music artists played a benefit concert in Reichert’s honor at the Cleveland House of Blues, donating all proceeds to this scholarship created in her memory.

“People are deeply moved and saddened by Becca’s story, but at the same time, they are inspired by her courage and passion for life and learning,” says Kimberly Inks, associate professor in the Ball State University School of Music and one of the faculty cofounders of the scholarship. Having lived in the same Ohio town, Inks had personally known Reichert since a young age and was a colleague of Reichert’s mother.

As a Ball State student, Reichert was described as a “well-rounded and ambitious musician,” a dean’s list music education major and vocal performance minor. Her future looked bright. But Reichert’s world suddenly took a dramatic turn in her junior year, as she wrote in her professional teaching portfolio:

“In November 2004, I was diagnosed with tongue cancer. This took me away from the last few weeks of my student teaching experience. The surgeries and radiation and chemotherapy were definitely physically and emotionally some of the hardest times I have ever gone through. With every surgery and treatment, I was constantly concerned with the health of my vocal cords because I wanted to be back singing and teaching as soon as I possibly could. It was during this time that I realized how passionate I really am for music education. I feel like I will be a much better teacher because of this.”

Reichert graduated from Ball State’s music education program summa cum laude, the only music education student to do so in May 2005. In September 2006, when it became apparent that she would not overcome the cancer, the idea for creating a scholarship came about. Reichert was able to actively participate in building the criteria for her fund. Reichert died in October 2006.

A close friend of Reichert had connections with the Goo Goo Dolls and was responsible for spreading her story to them. “Once they heard the story,” Inks says, “they said, ‘Oh! We need to do something in her honor!’ They raised more than $60,000 with their benefit concert.”

To date, gifts beyond the concert proceeds have taken the fund to more than $120,000, providing assistance to Ball State music education students.

“It was a big honor receiving this award, particularly since it was the first time it had been given,” says Melissa Boyer, Rebecca Reichert Scholarship recipient. “Aside from the monetary assistance, I had the chance to meet with Rebecca Reichert’s family, which was a very moving experience. Her family was very interested in meeting and honoring a music education major who could carry on their daughter’s name, so to speak.”

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