The 2008 recession hit Kirsten Westerman’s family hard.

Kirsten Westerman

Kirsten Westerman

Her father lost his job as a tool-and-die maker, and her mother, a real-estate agent, struggled to sell homes when the housing bubble burst. Kirsten’s dreams of attending a school of music to study flute performance were uncertain at best.

“There was no money coming in at all,” Kirsten said.

But Ball State came through with three scholarships that made college affordable for the family. She graduated in 2014 with a music performance degree.

As of 2021, Westerman was working for the Warrior Music Foundation while she finished a doctoral degree in musicology from University of Cincinnati and a certificate in music therapy from St. Mary of the Woods.

Based in Washington D.C., the Warrior Music Foundation helps veterans treat their post-traumatic stress disorder through songwriting and composition.

“When you give to support students, there is a ripple effect of that generosity,” she said. “It is quite literally because somebody gave toward scholarships that I am now able to help veterans of Afghanistan. It’s just beautiful how generosity never dies. Once someone gives, it just keeps going.”