I was first introduced to BCC as a 7 year-old by my best friend Marlon Matthews and his sister Allana. We all went school together so it was a no brainer when the principal of the school told my mother of this then new music program called Boston Children’s Chorus. At first I was taken back by it thinking ,“Is this cool?” “Is it going to be fun?” or more importantly “Can I even sing?” At seven, I just wanted to have fun with my friend Marlon so I agreed to try out and see how it would be. I remember being in class when they pulled a group of 8-10 of us who said we were interested in joining to try out. It was a simple “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in a classroom with your friends looking at you making funny faces.
I never quite understood the magnitude of that day for me in 1st grade, but over 11 years it led to something special, something transcendent.
During my time in the Chorus we were able to illustrate the mission with our very presence. Wherever we went, people noticed. They noticed our diversity, not just of color, but they heard of our different perspectives via our music and the range of topics we covered in them. What “amateur” chorus do you know of that can have that type of impact? For example, I’ll never forget in our last performance in Jordan. We came came in with the understanding that culturally, music is received and lauded in a different way, such that after a performance they may not clap or give an ovation as their mode of appreciation. What happened after we did our set was just purely mind boggling. Not only did the audience clap, they gave a standing ovation that lasted a cool five minutes or so to the point where we sang an encore. To me that exemplifies how we exercise that mission, we only sang one song in Arabic, the rest were in various languages and yet! BCC has a force that enables people to break down the current social constructs.
BCC was a vital piece in shaping my experiences in life and school. The organization meant so much to me that I wrote about BCC for my college essay. To some, participating in a choir might sound trivial, but when your guidance counselor is going over topics with you, a chorus is not the first thing that comes to mind as an essay topic. Essay topics suggested to me instead included coming from a one-parent, low-income household or overcoming illness with my mom, who was at that point recovering after beating breast cancer. Without BCC however, I would not have made it out of high school, I would not be an agent for positive change, and I would not be who I am today.
One opportunity that came to me through my time at BCC was an opportunity to intern at Loomis, Sayles and Company. At the annual alumni dinner in December 2016, I met board member Meg Clough, who referred me for a summer internship at their Bay Area office in California. My internship at Loomis that summer gave me the ability to stretch myself and further develop communication, analytical, and business acumen that I believe would help me in a role down the line. Specifically, I learned how to utilize Bloomberg terminal and financial risk tools, prepared various market reports for daily meetings, but most importantly I gained experience within the investment industry. This experience in total was extremely gratifying because it got me to understand the importance of preparation and then when there are aberrations from the plan being able to bounce back and develop contingencies. The Loomis team more than anything gave me the tools to be productive contributor and team player.
If there was advice I could give to current singers, it would be to take initiative - work hard at every opportunity that comes your way, because one opportunity, when properly nurtured creates other opportunities. You have the power to affect change, you deem what exists in the world.