Pardis Baha has taken a diverse and unconventional path throughout her education.
An MSc Candidate in the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, Baha finds it humorous to see how shocked people are when they find out she completed her undergraduate studies in music education.
“I chuckle a little every time someone asks me about the connection between the two fields, because I know how strange it must look to see a music education major studying clinical anatomy,” she said with a laugh. “The common thread in all of it has been teaching — I’m at home whenever teaching is involved.”
Baha has always been surrounded by music, explaining it has undoubtedly changed her life for the better. The trainee has had several mentors growing up, but one that stands out to her most is her high school music teacher, Dave Parkes, who inspired her passion for music education.
“Music education is so much more than learning to play an instrument,” she said. It teaches students how to set goals and problem solve. It teaches them that persistence and commitment does pay off. It reaches them the art of communication, how to connect with others, and the important of teamwork.”
“And, above all else, it provides students with a community and a sense of belonging — an aspect of education that changes lives,” she added.
In 2010, she turned her passion for music education into action and created the Lambton Youth Jazz Orchestra (LYJO) — a six-week long opportunity for high school students to get involved with during the summer months. The group holds rehearsals and shares its love of music with the community at the end of August with a concert.
With the support of local music teachers and word of mouth from students in the program, the LYJO has gained quite a bit of traction and draws in 25-30 students each summer.
At the end of December, Baha was named one of Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley’s 2017 Honour List members for her creation of the LYJO and her dedication to her community.
“It was totally unexpected, and it is a little overwhelming to think that there is someone out there who felt so strongly about what I do that they took the time to write a nomination,” she said. “It is quite a humbling experience, and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to give back to a community that has given me so much.”