Music education major Vicky Nyder hopes to become an orchestra teacher for beginning and intermediate students. To reach her dream, she needs just the right instrument.

Nyder was born with a rare disease called multiple hereditary exostosis, which causes painful tumors on her bones. The tumors and related deformities decrease Nyder’s mobility, making it difficult for her to access a complete range of sounds using traditional instruments. The Will to Succeed Scholarship Nyder received has brought her one step closer to achieving her goal.

“Not only did the award help me with my tuition, but it also allowed me to start a fund for an instrument to accommodate my disabilities.”—Vicky Nyder

“Not only did the award help me with my tuition,” she said, “but it also allowed me to start a fund for an instrument to accommodate my disabilities.”

While Nyder waits for the perfect instrument, she remains active on campus. She serves as community outreach chair for the American String Teachers Association and the vice president of Continuo String Orchestra, and is a member of Illinois State’s Symphony Orchestra. Nyder also works with Illinois State University’s String Project as a teacher’s assistant, private lesson teacher, and co-lead teacher for students in third through eighth grades who are learning stringed instruments.

Receiving the award has motivated Nyder to advocate for herself and others with disabilities. “When the Symphony Orchestra had a recruitment tour to high schools in the Chicagoland area, I spoke with the orchestras’ directors. I let them know that if they had students with disabilities, they could email me to answer any questions. I want to make going to college as a person with disabilities sound more attainable,” she said.

“I want to make going to college as a person with disabilities sound more attainable.”—Vicky Nyder

The Will to Succeed Award Endowment Fund was established with this end in mind. The fund seeks to promote awareness of students with disabilities, as well as enhance programs and services provided by Illinois State’s Student Access and Accommodation Services. University faculty and staff, alumni, and friends regularly contribute to increase the endowment.

“I’ve had to work hard to accommodate the world to be more accessible for me. Receiving the award made it seem like my story mattered, and I was worth it,” Nyder said.

Donor support to Illinois State University’s Student Access and Accommodation Services, and to awards like the Will to Succeed Scholarship, makes higher education more accessible for people living with disabilities. “For that,” said Nyder, “I am truly grateful.”

If you enjoyed learning about inclusive design for Nyder’s instrument, read about the latest fundraising campaign for accessible technologies helping Redbirds experiencing test anxiety or needing assistance with note-taking.