Soit Ole Musa (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee)
Soit Ole Musa: Student Representative on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
A senior at MMU, Soitmatua (Soit) Ole Musa is part of a racial equity group called Cougars of Color. Their goal is to bring about change in the way the school and community discuss racial issues from a BIPOC perspective. When the advisor for that group told Musa the town of Jericho was forming a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and was looking for student volunteers, he decided to apply.
Musa was the first person appointed to the committee. “It’s been great,” he said. “I really enjoy the work and think it’s really important.” He noted that even policies that aren’t directly exclusionary might not have been created with DEI values in mind so they might be unintentionally causing harm and should be examined.
Musa isn’t fazed by the fact that he’s surrounded by adults on the committee. He admits that he doesn’t know all the procedures for committee work and respects the fact that the older members are well versed in that. “I really enjoy and value their wisdom on how we have to run as a group,” he said. “They’re great people and I respect them as mentors.” Musa said he has always spent time with people older than himself so working on the committee isn’t a stretch.
Musa believes Jericho needs to improve access to housing to be more inclusive. “We need to work on our housing values,” he said “but that opens up a whole can of worms because you’re dealing with homeowners who may not want more neighbors. That becomes a larger conversation and that’s where the committee comes in.” Musa also thinks it’s important for Jericho to attract more diverse residents. “This is one of the whitest places I’ve ever been,” he said. “My graduating class has five Black people, and the grades below only have a couple. Attracting a more diverse presence would help Jericho’s growth.”
Musa was a member of the Vermont Youth Philharmonia for two years and has been part of the Vermont Youth Orchestra since eighth grade. He plays French horn and this year he is the principal player. “I’ve been really committed to that,” he said, “and it’s been an amazing and formative experience.” In addition, Musa has been a member of the marching band since middle school and was twice invited to the Big E. “Marching is a completely different beast,” he said. He is unable to play the French horn in the band, so he plays a mellophone which he described as looking like a big trumpet. “You can use a French horn mouthpiece,” he said, “but it’s still quite different. It’s harder than being an ensemble player because you’re applying all that musicianship but also moving. You’re trying to remember the ebbs and flows of the music as well as where you’re supposed to be physically.”
Musa has played at the District Festival since grade 7 and has gone to All States each year of high school except for his sophomore year when Covid led to its cancellation. This year, the group is playing the last movement of the New World Symphony which Musa described as having a massive horn solo. “It’s really terrifying,” he said, “because it goes really high.”
Musa’s musical talents extend beyond the horn. He has also taken part in chorus since grade 5 and this year, on the realization that he had never attended a vocal festival, he went to the New England Chorus Festival and enjoyed the opportunity to sing with a group of 200 others.
Not surprisingly, given the fact that music is such a huge part of his life, Musa will be attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston this fall. In addition to French horn performance, he will be studying film and media composition.
Musa has thoroughly enjoyed his time in Jericho and although he’s not sure where he’ll end up after graduation, he does have one thought. “A long time from now, when I have kids,” he said, “I’d love to have them go to MMU.”