Carmen Woodruff is a Contemporary Vocal Performance graduate student at Berklee’s Valencia campus. Originally from the Detroit Metropolitan area, Carmen attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. After working for 10 years in the marketing field and some serious soul-searching, she went back to school to complete a second degree in Music at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is now living her dream at Berklee College of Music in Valencia and encourages others to do the same. It’s never too late! Follow Carmen’s musical journey on Facebook or Reverbnation.
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby. Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” – E.Y. Harburg and Harold Allen
These are the sentiments I reflect on daily as I walk to class, scurry to the state-of-the-art studios, or anticipate show time, which happens more often than not. This is a dream I’m living. It just started and I don’t want to wake up! I’m not alone in this. Ask any Berklee student here in Valencia and they will sing “la misma canción” (the same song).
We’ve not only been welcomed with open arms by world-renowned faculty and administration; we’ve been dually embraced by the local community. Most of us do not speak Spanish fluently, but the business owners, cab drivers and poor souls we stumble upon as we’re seeking directions or ordering from a menu, politely play “Charades” in “Spanglish” with us. And then there are those of us who have smartened up and recruited a Spanish-speaking colleague to join us as we venture out in our new environment.
I haven’t been immersed in this much magic since working in public relations at Walt Disney World Resort years ago. In the Palau de les Arts, they present fireworks almost nightly, which competitively places Berklee’s Valencia campus neck-to-neck with Mickey’s Magic Kingdom. One may even desire to squeeze into a kayak with a friend, just for fun on a sunny day or wriggle into a human-sized rotating plastic bubble to navigate the crystal-blue waters.
Here, you’re never alone or lost. The Student Affairs team led by Clara Barbera, addresses our questions or concerns, especially as they pertain to our personal lives: doctor’s appointments, physical fitness, diversity initiatives, etc. The International Career Center staff led by Maxwell Moya Wright and Stine Glismand provides enlightening workshops, which keep us aligned with our future plans.
All doors are open throughout the day, even the door of our Academic Dean, Brian Cole. Professor Stephen Webber and his Music Technology Innovation (MTI) team work with us early on to make sure we infuse technology into our work. Gael Hedding and Carlos Ballester tirelessly make sure to amplify our best sounds and artistic visions onstage. The front desk team graciously greets us as a concierge service of sorts, answering questions, collecting our packages and referring us to the best take out restaurants in town as we work into the wee hours of the morning.
Berklee’s Valencia campus is a place like no other with a distinct culture of diligence and devotion where character and integrity take center stage. Some of the most beautiful spirits from around the globe reside and flourish here. The genuine kindness we’ve all received from colleagues and staff alike is truly comforting. We help each other as we anchor our way through our ever-changing, fast-paced surroundings.
Berklee’s campus in Valencia is a land for all of us dreamers to congregate and conspire but only in the best way. We are experimental. We are adventurers. We are trailblazers. We are Berklee.
Thank you for opening up your homes. Thank you for visiting mine. Thank you for sharing your customs and viewpoints. Thank you for coercing me onto the stage at an impromptu jam session. Thank you for allowing us to enjoy harmony class outside during Valencia Day. Thank you for pushing me onto the Valenbisi bike that one night we all rode to el barrio Carmen. Thank you for listening to my dream job description and replying with “You can do it! The sky is the limit here.”
And to think, we’ve only just begun… Looking forward to sharing more of our exciting journey as the year continues to unfold.