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Finding Her Beat

Having sought out music in a new way to help her heal, Jennifer Maxwell P’22 was inspired to give $500,000 to Santa Clara’s Jazz music program.

Ever since she was a child, Jennifer Maxwell P’22 felt that “music reached out to [her].” As an athlete, she found that there was a natural synergy between her training and the pulse, cadence, and beat of the drum. Jennifer and her husband Brian, a fellow athlete, co-founded PowerBar in 1985 when they were students at Berkeley, developing a brand new industry as a result. When Brian suddenly passed away from a heart attack in 2004, Jennifer and her six children found themselves in a dark place. Through this tragedy, she sought out music in a new, meaningful way. 

Jennifer dove right into a new-found love of music, initially taking drum lessons and eventually learning that Jazz challenged her repertoire, tapping into something deep in her “heart and soul.” She has now played with the Berkeley Jazz Conservatory for over 10 years, and performs in an ensemble group every Saturday morning. When her son James started at SCU as a first-year student in 2019, Jennifer was inspired to give $500,000 to Santa Clara’s Jazz music program, which will significantly raise the visibility and prestige of the program. “When you are self-made you are more likely to give back because you yourself benefited from people believing in you and giving you a start,” Jennifer says. “I really like SCU and my son has had a great experience here. I like the University’s mission of making the world a better place and music is one of the avenues that can make a difference for people.”

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