How one CCM student faced adversity and grew from it
The road to becoming the person I am today
For Dean Haynes, ’24, his scholarship has been “the greatest gift.” Along with his work as a resident adviser, that support has allowed Haynes to travel a spontaneous, often-unanticipated path through his years as a music education major at UC.
“I would be a totally different person if I didn’t have a scholarship,” Haynes said. “The freedom it provides opens you up for a lot of discovery, which is pretty awesome.”
And to the donors who funded his scholarship, he said, “Thank you for having such an impact on my life. I'm extremely grateful for what you have done for me and I will utilize this great opportunity you've given me to the fullest.”
Haynes, an accomplished saxophonist who grew up north of Cincinnati in Fairfield Township, came to UC imagining one future. Today, with a resume dotted with wide-ranging experiences and leadership positions, he envisions something entirely different. At the core of his ambitions, he hopes to make the world a better place through education.
Haynes began his UC career during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. “You have this concept of college in your head, and then you arrive, and everybody has a mask on, indoors and outdoors,” he reflected. “You’re really stuck in a room, and it doesn’t help socialization when you’re not allowed to have any guests in your room, even if they’re wearing a mask. I was using TikTok a lot, and I’d feel empty afterward because I’d been doing nothing for four hours. It was a hard time for a lot of people.”
Challenges lead to a journey of self-improvement
Over winter break of his freshman year, Haynes made a life-changing decision. “During this time, my mental health really fell, and my physical health fell, too,” he said. “After that tough first semester, I wanted to turn around my life, because I was feeling a little purposeless. The next semester I came in with a plan, and I started meditating every morning and journaling every day. I was working out every day, I lost weight and I made some friends.
“Overall, I was improving myself a lot. And I thought, ‘I can’t be the only person who was suffering like this through school.’”
Haynes’ idea for a Self-Improvement Club was born. Small at first, the club grew rapidly by word of mouth. Haynes grew with it, experiencing a leadership role that brought new challenges as well as opportunities to teach, speak in front of a crowd and grapple with conflict of leading a group of students. Now in its third year, the club continues to have a positive impact across campus, focusing on mental and physical health, healthy habits and guiding students to be the best versions of themselves during difficult semesters.
I feel like education can save the world. I want to have the greatest impact that I can on that.
Dean Haynes, ’24 UC student
Preparing students for excellence
At CCM, Haynes has experienced the musical field via performances, conducting, desktop music production and student teaching. “While at UC I have had great teaching experiences, having taught for a whole semester at Taft Elementary School, where the theme was Black music of America,” Haynes says. “I have had so many different professors as resources to help me with all different types of music that I can truly discover myself and my own musical sound and teaching style.”
What comes next is still uncertain. He may pursue graduate school or plunge right into teaching. Ultimately, Haynes aspires to a doctorate in international education or education policy. “I feel like education can save the world,” Haynes said. “I want to have the greatest impact that I can on that.”
Featured image at top: Exterior of College-Conservatory of Music. Photo/provided.