Max Woods, a Washington University in St. Louis senior majoring in Mathematics and Comparative Literature, and playing on the men’s tennis team, has developed a lifelong dedication to the educational and artistic needs of his community. Max has been surrounded by music his entire life and began playing the violin at age five. Inspired by friends and family who found success through diligence and continuous hard work, Max realized that accomplishment comes not through talent but rather through practice, commitment and perseverance to achieving one’s goals.
During spring 2009, Max received a Social Change Grant from Washington University to co-found Orchestrating Diversity, a high-level orchestral music education program for the under-resourced youth of St. Louis with a focus on personal mastery. Through Orchestrating Diversity, Max provides young musicians of St. Louis the opportunity to engage in private instruction with qualified teachers, take classes in music theory, music history and musicianship, as well as become part of a skilled ensemble – all at no charge to the students. Max instills the philosophy that it does not matter where you come from, how rich or poor you are, or what you look like; with constant practice, hard work and care, anyone is capable of incredible achievement.
To quote his nominator, “His involvement in Orchestrating Diversity shows that his desire for understanding, service, and social progress is far more than an intellectual callisthenic; it is true human concern and a personal mission that lives in action. I continually watch this man make personal sacrifices far beyond what most people are willing to make, and do so with optimism, a smile and a seemingly endless buffer for stress.”
Max also serves on the Board of Directors for the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center, a local nonprofit organization supporting the intellectual and creative growth of St. Louis’ young people. In addition to supporting local youth, Max’s work with this organization supports artists and musicians from across the globe by providing an alcohol-free, all-ages environment for performances and art showings. In doing so, he helps create a productive, safe and intellectually stimulating environment for young people across the city.