By MJ SLABY, The Herald-Times
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) _ What are your goals?

First, think about your short-term goals. Then, picture five years from now _ where do you see yourself?

“It’s a way to knowing what you want to do,” said Bobby Davis, an Indiana University senior and member of the IU Soul Revue.

It’s also the advice mentors gave to him, and advice he wanted to pass on to a group of visiting high school students from Memphis, Tennessee. Sharing the advice is something Davis said he saw as an obligation to “all of those who invested in me.”

The conversation was a small slice of a budding recruiting relationship between IU and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. It’s a relationship that aims to have annual visits between Indiana and Tennessee.

In March, IU Soul Revue, a class and performance ensemble, traveled to Memphis and visited Stax Academy, which has an after-school program of musical ensembles for high school students. Both organizations perform black popular music from the 1960s to now, according to The Herald-Times.

Thursday and Friday, about 25 high school students from Stax visited IU to learn how they _ with the help of IU diversity programs and the Soul Revue _ can make a smooth transition to a large research university. The stop was during the Stax ensemble’s fall tour before a performance in St. Louis.

Several years in the making, the recruiting relationship is an innovative move from IU and a new way of recruiting minority students, said Justin Merrick, Stax artistic director.

“It’s trailblazing in urban education and higher education,” he said.

Through the common lens of music, IU can develop and cultivate a relationship with the high school students, Merrick said. He and Adrianna Christmas are two of about five IU alumni who work at Stax.

“We want these students to be able to get out of Memphis and see what they can do,” Christmas said.

James Wimbush, IU vice president for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, was instrumental in creating this exchange, said Tyron Cooper, director of the IU Soul Revue.

It has been one of the diversity office’s goals to use targeted relationships to improve recruitment of underrepresented students.

The goal is to teach the students “what they need to be successful, not just as artists, but as scholars,” Cooper said. “It’s a wonderful feeder system for the Soul Revue and IU.”

Both groups are impressed with each other’s musical talents, Cooper said.

“It’s like looking in a mirror,” he said of the equal admiration. “They parallel us artistically.”

While on campus, Stax students can walk past the buildings and places they’d go as college students as well as talk to current students about everything from academics to practicing music, said Christmas, Stax program and operations manager.

Valerie Grim, a professor and chairwoman of the IU Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, spoke to the students and said she has a special interest in helping these students. Grim is also from the South and said she knows that many black high school students struggle to see the opportunities they could have.

“They need to see education as an investment in themselves,” she said. “It’s a way to be an agent of change.”

Now is the time to put an investment in yourself and your mind, Grim told the students. He encouraged them to read and write as much as they could.

And for students on both ends of the recruiting exchange, learning by experiencing makes a difference, Cooper said.

On the March trip to Memphis, the IU Soul Revue students saw the soul culture and historical civil rights places they study in class. In Bloomington, the Stax students saw IU and what life could be for them at a major university.

“It’s one thing to talk about it; it’s another to come,” Cooper said.


Information from: The Herald Times,