By: Sarah Wardell | Michigan State University

When Carlot Dorvé came to Michigan from Haiti in 2010 on a cultural exchange, he had no idea what would transpire the following week.

Then the news came from home. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake had devastated Haiti.

“It was a very hard time,” Dorvé said. “Not being able to communicate with family was pretty hard, and then I saw the pictures on the internet … I knew I had to stay here and do my absolute best.”

One of six kids, Dorvé’s childhood in Haiti was challenging. After tragically losing his right arm at age five, Dorvé was regularly told he couldn’t do things — simple things like riding a bike or swimming — but he found a way and even taught himself to write with his left hand.

Optimistic in adversity

Regular fanfare in the streets is common in Port-Au-Prince, and Dorvé began to focus on the sounds of the trumpet. He watched others play, mimicked them and wished for the chance to play trumpet, too.

“In school, I spent three years trying to convince the music teacher to let me play the trumpet,” Dorvé said. “They kept saying no because I have one arm. But I knew I could do it, and so I did.”

Waking up before the sun, the highly driven Dorvé would hone his craft, practicing the trumpet until it was time to go to school. School in Haiti came with tuition costs his mother could not afford; but through hard work, Dorvé received scholarships and eventually began playing in Haiti’s largest orchestra. He surpassed all his classmates in terms of skill and talent — and did it all amidst extreme cultural and physical adversity.

From Haiti to Flint to East Lansing

Flash forward to Dorve’s coming to Michigan. After being selected to participate in a four-month cultural exchange at Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan, an MSU alumna heard Dorvé perform and suggested he audition at Michigan State.

The rest is history.

Music faculty heard him play, saw his determination, and supported him fully; and thanks to scholarship funding from the Marquis L. Otis Fund, established in the College of Music, Dorvé is fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional musician.

The music performance senior has spent much of his time paying it forward. Dorvé feels giving back is paramount and he’s demonstrated it through his actions, returning to Haiti periodically and speaking to kids with special needs, encouraging them to overcome obstacles and persist to be the best they can be.

“You know one thing I think is very important in life, whenever you receive you should find a way to give,” Dorvé said. “To give back in as many ways as you can give back, to just do it — there should not be any excuse not to give back.”