Mentor Pulls Out All the Stops for Mentee

Arizona Assurance
Oct. 16, 2013

Home schooled in high school, and coming from a family with limited financial resources, college did not seem like a realistic possibility for Tucson native Kenneth Saufley.


Since becoming an Arizona Assurance Scholar, Kenneth Saufley (left) has been singing a new tune concerning what his future has in store. With support from his mentor, UA faculty member Edward Reid, Saufley knows that hard work can pay off, and that there is no limit to his potential.

Despite his desire to pursue a higher education, he doubted whether paying tuition to attend a junior college part-time was affordable, let alone the cost of a four-year institution – until he began taking free trumpet lessons at the Tucson Symphony Women's Association, which offers music education to underserved students. It was there that Saufley met a volunteer teacher, UA faculty member Edward Reid, who opened up a whole new world of possibilities to him.

Reid, who has worked as a UA trumpet professor in the School of Music for 20 years, not only encouraged Saufley to apply to the UA, but advised him on how to turn his dream into a reality. 

At Reid's suggestion, Saufley applied for an Arizona Assurance Scholarship and soon after was awarded a full ride to attend the UA. 

"For me it was one of the best things that's happened to me; to find out that I can come to this great school and pay virtually no money," Saufley said, adding that Arizona Assurance "is a great program, and it’s allowed me to come and get a great education. I'm very thankful."

Now that Saufley is a full-time student and musician, he and Reid have maintained their bond. Reid has formally mentored Arizona Assurance Scholars every year since the program's inception in 2008, so it was only logical for the trumpeters' relationship to continue.

Reid knows the value of mentorship, not only from his work with Arizona Assurance, but from his own experiences as an aspiring musician.

"The biggest mentor I had was my trumpet teacher," said Reid, who studied at the Eastman School of Music with Barbara Butler. "At first, I didn't know much about her. But by the time I left Eastman, I had fallen in love with everything about her, and we're still in contact today. I still run things by her at times. So that mentorship has continued over a couple years, shall we say – like 30 years."

Reid's relationship with Butler was so impactful in his life, that he named his son after her husband, who is a good friend and fellow musician.

"I learned from that, in how valuable (mentorship) was for me as a student, a young professional, and even now as a professor," Reid said. "I internally understand what just a little attention from a professor can mean to an 18-year-old student."

Saufley says that the first thing that caused him to gravitate towards Reid was his trumpet skills, that hearing him play was an instant motivator.  But his inspiration came with one-on-one instruction as well, and as a result, Saufley has made tremendous strides musically.

"Ninety percent of my progress has been Mr. Reid showing me how to get from point A to point B, demonstrating and showing me that path," Saufley said.

But the doors that Reid hopes to open for Saufley are not limited to a first-rate musical education.  

For each of the last 10 years, Reid has taken his students on an annual trip abroad, to perform in cities throughout the world. Most recently, he took 23 students as part of the Studio Jazz Ensemble to China. Next year, he has his sights set on the Middle East. 

"That China trip represented the 10th visit to a country in the last 10 years, in which University students have gone with me and performed," Reid said. "What a life-changing experience for people not only to read in books about other cultures, but to actually go. My personal agenda as a professor of music is to have students see the world, people like Kenny (Saufley). All my students are given the opportunity to go all over."

Saufley plans to take full advantage of the opportunity, noting how unique it is for someone from his background to travel. He would eventually like to work at a professional level, playing with a major symphony orchestra, and possibly teach at a university.

"I've never been outside of the country, except Mexico," he said, adding that he can only remember seeing the ocean once in his life. "But I would love to see the world."


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