Dear Jack Foundation (DJF) is ecstatic to announce Austin Gatus, a Southern California student, as a recipient of one of two 2015 Dear Jack Scholarships, which is in partnership with Cancer for College
(CFC). “I am very honored to be a recipient of the DJF Scholarship,” said Austin.
When Austin was in third grade, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, or ALL—the same type of cancer that DJF founder Andrew McMahon battled. This fall, Austin will begin his college career at the University of California, Los Angeles, majoring in Ethnomusicology with an emphasis on Jazz Studies.
Music was a passion that Austin tapped into at a young age, while he was in treatment for three and a half years at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. What began as simply practicing and playing saxophone as a third grader evolved into a gift that Austin has been called on to share with others. His talent eventually led to many opportunities to perform with the likes of jazz greats such as Kenny G and Dave Koz, to name a few.
“I still have a hard time believing that something as dreadful as cancer, that has taken so many of my friends, has led me to where I am today. Through tragedy, I know music is my gift,” Austin reflects.
It’s Austin’s devotion to music and his journey to get to where he is now that has inspired his drive to attend a highly-ranked music school. “I know [that] at the best colleges, I can hone my craft, and . . . collaborate to make great music that’ll be heard,” Austin said.
Austin and DJF’s founder, Andrew, are linked by both music and cancer. This connection serves as a common thread that propels and motivates Austin to stay his path as a musician: “I am inspired by Andrew’s story and hope to achieve the same things that he has in the future.” For more information on Austin’s music you can check out his site here
Through DJF’s partnership with CFC, DJF has awarded four music education scholarships in the past two years, and the foundation looks forward to awarding many more to young adult scholars in the future.