When I was a little girl I wanted to be two things, Nancy Kerrigan and a singer. Turns out, I couldn’t skate to save my life so singing won that contest. I began performing anywhere I could from church, to school plays, and even weddings. As I got older, this dream started to become a reality when my stepfather told me about the Berklee School of Music in Boston. I saw the school and it was love at first sound.
I saw kids walking around with guitars, singing out loud as they walked to class, and talking about all the latest in music happenings. I could not get enough and knew that this was where I needed to end up. I became one of the first sophomores to get into the varsity show choir at my school, which for those of you who don’t know is something very close to the TV show Glee. I also got lead roles in the musicals and won various awards as well. These and other accomplishments motivated me throughout school and drove me towards my ultimate goal... Berklee.
Then the time finally came for applications, auditions, and interviews. I applied to several schools just to be safe and worked for hours and hours choosing audition pieces, writing essays, and visiting the schools. After months of practicing, auditioning, and hard work, it was time for my Berklee audition. I chose my performance piece, prepared my interview, and asked one of my favorite teachers to accompany me during my audition. It was the most challenging of all as they ask you many questions and test your sight-reading and music theory skills. This event occurs in a room the size of a closet, filled with instruments, and two judges who continuously type and barely look at your face. Although this was by far the most difficult of all my auditions, I felt good and waited anxiously for the decision.
Then the morning of decision day came. I opened my email, read the message... I was in! I was so happy that my mother and I screamed and jumped up and down! Then reality hit, the thing my mother kept reminding me about, which was the difficulty of paying the tuition. Therefore, we made a deal: I would go to a state school for a year (since I had free state tuition, in order to do some of my general education requirements) and then I would transfer to Berklee.
I went to Framingham State and made the best of it. I met my boyfriend and many of my good friends there. It was a great school but it wasn’t where I really wanted to be. So when the time came to go to Berklee, I was nervous but excited. Once there, I realized that it wasn’t just singing and performing, it was hard work and dedication. And yes, you have to take “real” classes, like history, in addition to your performance classes, but I was in love. Then, as time went on, our economy in the US began to fail and things weren’t going so well financially for anyone. I began to realize that all the things my mother had warned me about such as loans and debt were becoming more of a reality, as I matured and saw the bills that were coming our way.
Although she didn’t complain, I also saw how hard my mother was working to save and pay for my education. I knew I did not want to be in debt for the rest of my life or put her in this position. Seeing that according to the Berklee website, tuition rises at least 7% every semester, I began to get nervous. One night, I spoke with my mother and told her, I could not put her or myself through this burden any longer. It was time for me to grow up and, “face the music.”
After many sleepless nights for the two of us and talks with financial aid, I realized it was time to say goodbye. I looked into my options and since I loved my new job in Boston, I wanted to stay in the city. Therefore, I chose to go to the University of Massachusetts Boston to finish my undergraduate education.
Although I felt lost and depressed, I decided to go after a new dream, fashion journalism. Therefore, I decided to major in English and continue working as a fashion consultant. Although I’m not thrilled about where I am, at least I have a great job, a great group of family and friends, and soon I’ll have a degree.
In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, he speaks about the responsibility of the various universities and how they need to help students during this difficult time in regards to tuition funds and fees. I hope Berklee was listening with ears open to our President that night. For the sake of students, their dreams, and the future of this country, I hope that colleges and universities think seriously about what they are doing to their students, as well as the talented ones they are leaving behind.
Maybe I had to leave Berklee, but music isn’t finished with me, I can feel it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be on that stage someday. Because I still can’t skate, but I know I can sing.