Sharing the Gift of Music: Champion an Artist Scholarship

Zuri Kargbo with donor Marla Trumper
Music performance and music education major Zuri Kargbo (left) with Marla Trumper (right), longtime supporter of CSU

“In high school, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I knew my family couldn’t afford to help me pay for my college education and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go,” shares Zuri Kargbo, now a rising junior double majoring in music performance and music education at Colorado State University.

Kargbo, a talented bassist, who performed in the prestigious All-State Orchestra and Western State Orchestra in high school, was passionate about music from an early age. Choosing bass in middle school, Kargbo loves the ability to truly express herself through her music. During a difficult transition from homeschooling to a public high school, she found comfort in the music and guidance from a special Boulder High School orchestra teacher, Dr. Mason.

Dr. Mason introduced Kargbo to scholarship programs to support her private lessons and introduced her to opportunities at Colorado State University for aspiring musicians. As high school senior, Kargbo participated in CSU’s Trying on Teaching program, where she acted as a high school assistant and was inspired to teach. Meeting associate professor of music education, Dr. Erik Johnson, and exploring the CSU campus solidified her dream to one day attend CSU. However, even after years of intensive musical training, Kargbo was uncertain about her future.

“I couldn’t pay for my education and was worried about the burden of student debt,” explains Kargbo.

Then she received the Champion an Artist Scholarship, a four-year award that supports young musicians, artists, and scholars throughout their entire college career. The scholarship made it possible for Kargbo to attend CSU.

The scholarship was established through the generosity of longtime CSU supporter, Marla Trumper. Through lunch visits and post-performance chats, Kargbo has built a special relationship with her donor. “I received an additional gift in getting to know someone has kind as Marla. She cares how I’m doing and that I’m succeeding during my time at CSU,” shares Kargbo.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in Zuri’s experience at CSU. Seeing her arrive as a timid freshman and grow each year in confidence and excelling in her artistry warms my heart. She really is my champion artist,” shares Trumper.

Kargbo has taken advantage of her college experience, participating in the CSU Symphony, the CSU Sinfonia, and in the pit for the opera. Inspired by the generosity of her scholarship donor and the significant impact that music had on her formative years, Kargbo now pays it forward teaching the next generation of musicians as a bass sectional leader for the CSU Trying on Teaching program.

“I am happy to be part of Zuri’s ability to pursue her passion, knowing her intention to pay it forward by teaching a new generations of musicians. She will continue to pass on the gift of music to others,” says Trumper.

The aspiring music teacher and performer embodies the spirit of giving back, mentoring younger CSU students and acting as the President of the American String Teachers Association student chapter.

“Being here at CSU, thanks to the Champion an Artist Scholarship, has made me develop as a more comfortable, confident person. I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” says Kargbo.

Interested in learning how you can make an impact on aspiring performers and artists through the Champion an Artist Scholarship? Visit