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LCC Student, Local Musicians Win Prestigious John Lennon Scholarship

November 3, 2015

LANSING, MICH. - Dillon Gorden had no idea who was calling when his phone rang at work. The number was from New York. The person on the other end was a woman named Samantha and she started the conversation by telling him that she had good news about a contest he had entered.

"I had completely forgotten all about it," says Gorden, a musician, songwriter, and student at Lansing Community College. "It was hard to believe at first. I was beside myself."

In late September, Gorden learned he had won first place in the 18th Annual John Lennon Scholarship program through the BMI Foundation. Established by Yoko Ono in memory of the former Beatle and recording artist, the program recognizes the nation's best and bright songwriters between the ages of 17 and 24. Each year, three winners receive cash awards to help cover college costs.

"Something like this goes a long ways to validate yourself as an artist,"says the 24-year-old Gorden. "After I got off the phone, I gave myself a pat on the back and smiled the rest of the day."

Gorden won an $8,000 scholarship for his entry "Carry Me Home," an electro-acoustic song he had recorded in Chicago with his Lansing-based indie group Lights & Caves. He wrote the song, he says, as a thank you to a couple friends who had helped him through a rough time in his life.

"It's a reminder that even though things can go sideways a bit, as long as you keep trying and pushing forward, eventually things will go through," Gorden says.

Born in Connecticut, Gorden moved between Kentucky and Michigan growing up. He played violin in elementary and in middle school, but traded it for the guitar when he was in 9th grade. After taking a few lessons from a neighbor, he started playing and writing music with friends.

"I think what I really like about music is that it levels the playing field," says Gorden. "As a form of expression, it's a great way to bring people together who might not otherwise ever be in the same room together."

Gorden graduated from East Lansing High School in 2009, took a few years off to work and pursue music, then enrolled at LCC in 2013. He's currently about eight credits shy of earning his general associate degree, and says the John Lennon Scholarship award will help him pay for his bachelor's degree.

"The scholarship will certainly ease the burden of going to college in the 21st century," Gorden says. "And LCC has been a great place to get started. I've liked the smaller class sizes and meeting so many different types of people. It helps round out your experience."

About Lansing Community College

Lansing Community College is Michigan's third largest community college with approximately 15,000 students attending each year. LCC offers courses in general education for those interested in transferring to a four-year institution, career and workforce development, developmental education and personal enrichment. To meet the professional development and training needs of regional employees, the college offers customized programs for credit, non-credit and continuing education. The University Center at LCC offers students the opportunity to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from six partner universities on the downtown LCC campus. For more information, visit

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