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“The soft skills that I learned while in AYWS have been invaluable,” says former flutist Beldon Lin, an aerospace engineering major at the University of Michigan.

Some might think that music and engineering have little in common, but Beldon believes otherwise. “Engineering, and especially aircraft design, is a team sport,” he says. “There are so many different aspects that are vital to the design, and it requires a team. Being a part of AYWS taught me how to work with many different kinds of people.”

Beldon says gaining that type of experience before going to college and being able to apply it to his studies has been instrumental in getting him where he is today. AYWS provided him with the opportunity to take his musical studies to another level, and he also learned important lessons about hard work, motivation and achievement as a result.

His hard work in the ensemble truly paid off for him and his peers when they performed at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall.

“I was absolutely awestruck,” he says. “I was constantly reminding myself to focus on making sure I kept up with the music while trying to sneak a peak and take it all in!”

Even though Beldon has his sights set on a career in the aerospace industry, he still believes music is invaluable.

“Music is important because it is a common language – similar to math or science, except on a more relatable level,” he explains. “It allows us to communicate and cross many barriers that may seem insurmountable.”