With his most recent gift to the Mitchell Institute in December 2023, Brian Harris, the 2007 Mitchell Scholar from Penobscot High School and Co-founder & CEO of MedRhythms, became the 15th and newest member of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society.
The new Alumni giving society recognizes Mitchell Scholar alumni who have followed the example of the late Truc Huynh, a remarkably gifted and altruistic Scholar alumnus who passed away at the age of 40 in mid-June of 2022. As part of his legacy of paying it forward, Truc made financial contributions to the Mitchell Institute at a level that matched and eventually surpassed the entire amount of the Scholarship award that he received in support of his education at Bowdoin College.
Harris, who earned a bachelor of arts at the University of Maine and now serves on the Mitchell Institute’s Board of Directors, said contributing the full amount of his scholarship to the Mitchell Institute to support current and future Mitchell Scholars has long been a goal of his.
”Being able to contribute to the Mitchell Institute in this way is incredibly rewarding, as I firmly believe in both its mission and tangible impact,” Harris said. “And, to be able to give back to an organization that has given me so much personally, is a true honor.”
In a recent Scholars Speak Podcast interview, Harris spoke about the importance of receiving the Mitchell Scholarship, especially as a first-generation-to-college student, and how receiving a fellowship from the Mitchell Institute was integral to his career success. While pursuing a master’s in music therapy at Lesley University, Harris said he applied for a fellowship to help with living expenses while completing an unpaid internship.
“That internship was at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where they didn’t, at the time, have a music therapist on staff,” Harris said. “Because of that internship, I became the first music therapist at the hospital. They created a position and hired me for the role. That position was really the steppingstone to starting MedRhythms. And so, as I look back, the Mitchell Institute has been incredibly influential, from helping me to pay for college, receiving the fellowship, and the connections that I’ve had to other Mitchell Scholars that I have maintained to this day. It’s all been a big part of my life.”
Jared Cash, President and CEO of the Mitchell Institute, thanked Harris for his contributions to the Mitchell Institute over the years that resulted in membership in the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society.
“We are deeply grateful to Brian for making the success of current and future Mitchell Scholars a philanthropic priority and for recognizing how his contributions can help fund the vital wraparound supports that make the Mitchell Scholarship so transformative for Maine’s young people,” Cash said.
As founder and CEO, Harris leads MedRhythms’ efforts to improve the lives of people with neurologic injury and disease by building neurotherapeutics that leverage the power of music and technology. A board-certified music therapist and one of 350 Neurologic Music Therapist Fellows worldwide, he created and implemented the first full-time, inpatient Neurologic Music Therapy program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, specializing in traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurologic disease. He co-founded the Arts & Neuroscience group at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and has been invited to speak on the efficacy of music therapy to numerous organizations and universities, including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Harvard Medical School, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, Stanford University, Berklee College of Music and the Neurology Foundation of India. Harris is listed as an inventor on several patents related to MedRhythms’ digital therapeutic platform, and he has been named to MedTech Boston’s 40 Under 40 Healthcare Innovators and one of World Biz Magazine’s Top 100 Innovation CEOs.
As busy as Harris is with leading MedRhythms, he continues to be generous with his time in support of the Mitchell Institute and its goals. In addition to serving on the board, Harris has provided Scholars and young alumni with career coaching and an overview of MedRhythms’ opportunities during the 2023 MILE II employer fair, part of the Institute’s annual day-long career-development program. For Harris, helping Scholars is an important and joyful responsibility.
“Not only was the support of the Mitchell Institute invaluable for me throughout my academic career, but the Institute’s impact is being felt in organizations and communities around the world through the thousands of students it has supported with scholarships and leadership training,” he said. “It is an honor for me to support the organization’s ongoing mission to increase access to higher education.”
Membership in the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society can happen through a multi-year pledge, steady giving over many years, or a single gift to the Mitchell Institute. New and founding members of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society are invited to attend an annual reception to celebrate their philanthropic commitment to supporting the Mitchell Institute. If you are interested in learning more about the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society, please contact Mitchell Institute President and CEO Jared Cash. See all members of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society.