Maeva Veillard ’15

Maeva Veillard ‘15
Health Equity Advisor, Boston Public Health Commission

This season, BYSO alumni spotlights will feature alumni who are doing essential work during this time of crisis. Maeva Veillard, ’15, Viola, is currently a graduate student pursuing a Masters of Public Health at the Tufts University School of Medicine, and also serves as a Health Equity Advisor for the Boston Public Health Commission, an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs and the oldest health department in the United States.

Maeva is part of an 11-person advisory committee at the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) aimed at having people from the city of Boston guide decision making in public health, healthcare, and policy. Part of her role in this committee includes providing feedback on programs and their related materials such as pamphlets or brochures. “It’s important to have representatives from the community that the organization is trying to serve be available provide feedback and offer their perspectives in order to be the most effective. We also help to make sure that the initiatives or programs being implemented are being viewed through a lens of equity and inclusion.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, much of the BPHC’s work has shifted to coverage on the Coronavirus. “We have been part of several initiatives within the BPHC to promote public health and safety. For example, we recently ran a campaign to encourage people in the city to wear masks.” Maeva has also used her own individual platform to advance her knowledge of public health and racial inequality, such as participating in a panel at UCLA about racial disparities in healthcare and hosting panels where Black women share their experiences and expertise in their respective careers.

A graphic from the Boston Public Health Commission recommending face coverings and social distancing.

Maeva definitely feels that BYSO prepared her for the future. “Although BYSO did a great job of bringing in kids of different backgrounds, there is always room for growth, and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the field of classical music. BYSO gave me the opportunity to learn how to navigate a professional setting, particularly as a minority. I’m now dedicated to seeing the world through a lens of equity while lending a critical eye to seeing how those things can be improved.”

“Classical music also requires you to be very meticulous about your work. Conductor Marta Zurad once told me that ‘In music, you’re either in tune or you’re out of tune, there’s no in-between; but that’s not how most things work in the world.’ You have to work hard to play in tune and play together. I carry that philosophy with me to this day. As a musician, you learn to have an ear for music that is out of tune. And now, I try to pick up on things that are out of tune in the world.”

Maeva and friends at BYSO Camp.

Maeva looks back fondly on her time with BYSO.Although the days were long, I’m incredibly grateful for my time at BYSO. It was such a unique experience balancing the seriousness of playing with the fun shenanigans of being teenagers and enjoying time with your friends. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.”

Maeva’s advice for our current students? “Don’t be afraid to take up space. Don’t be afraid to talk about things that matter. In classical music, it’s easy to just focus on the music, but like any other field, it has been dominated by certain traditions and people for a long time. Now is the time for you to challenge traditional ways of thinking, and to expand your knowledge. I also encourage you to foster relationships with the people that you’re playing with because those can take you a long way.”

Are you, or someone you know, a BYSO alumni with a cool or interesting story or life update to share? Contact Jessica Chen, Development & Alumni Relations Associate!