The year that never was part deux: “When reality ruins everything”

In the last post I reflected on what has happened in this past year. To recap, the expectations  were:

  1. Finish my Teaching Internship successfully, and show that I can actually be a music teacher (choral conductor).
  2. Finish my Choral Conducting course & (maybe) conduct in the Spring Tour.
  3. Go to France in the summer with my best friend (as a reward to myself for studying nonstop for five years)
  4. Start my Master’s in Music (Choral Conducting).
  5. Become more independent.

As a result, I finished the Teaching Internship successfully, I passed all my evaluations with very high percentage (yay me!) and so did my friend & peer Yolimar. I received one of highest grades in the Internship (at least from my supervisors group). I also finished my Choral Conducting course with flying colors. I am (for now) the only student from PUCPR who graduated with a full year in student conducting (pats self). I also conducted in the Spring Tour (New York & New Jersey). I had the honor of conduct in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York & in Saint Joseph of the Palisades Chapel in New Jersey. I graduated PUCPR with honors, and received the Mons. Di Marco Medal for musicianship and musical excellence. So far so good right? Wrong.

It’s amazing the way life changes drastically in a few moments. I was in an all time high, I was graduating as well did my partner and my better half. We were going to France in the Summer,and then I would start my masters degree. I got accepted into a very recognized School of Music, and I was on the runnings in getting a scholarship. I was going to become more independent. Things were looking up. That’s when everything came crashing down.

In the few months before graduating (more or less May/June 2012) I received the following information:

  1. I did not receive any type of scholarship. Since I didn’t receive any (extra) financial aid, I couldn’t start my masters in the program of my dreams for I couldn’t have managed financially. I could have started my master’s degree last August (August 2012), but that meant taking out Federal and Private loans. But this meant that I would have fallen in the death grip of financial decay at 22 years. I decided to not study (as any rational, decent individual would do). 
  2. I did not go to France for the summer with my best friend. Why? Because the loans (which were “tailored for the trip”) did not cover nearly half of the trips expenses. So no trip for any of us.
  3. Being independent: This, which was intertwined with the last to points, did not come into fruition. I know what you may think. “Jose, you do not need to go to leave your parents house to be independent.” I know this. I know that I do not need to leave my parents house to become independent. The dillema is that, here in Puerto Rico, there are no jobs. When I mean there are no jobs is that I have friend with two Masters degrees and she can’t find a job as a Teacher (her Bachellors), Administrator (one of her master’s degrees) or even in a Fast Food Establishment (because she’s “overqualified”). As I wrote in my Goals Statement essay:

    The Puerto Rican government perceives the arts in general as insignificant in comparison with the core subjects, as well as unnecessary for the integral development of the island’s students. Currently, the Department of Education of Puerto Rico has enacted a policy that authorizes school principals (of both elementary and secondary level schools) to decide whether or not they wish to offer music, visual arts, and even physical education classes to their students based on two criteria: first, if the principals deem the classes necessary to the integral development of their students, and secondly, if the school’s budget allows space for teachers specialized in fine arts and/or physical education.

    So this means that I can’t work as a teacher because in both, private and public, educational system in the island are not hiring teacher, what is a recent college graduate to do? (Other than to send resumes/C.V knowing that you won’t get hired, because there are no jobs).

  4. Social Media Insomnia/Netflix addiction: Since I couldn’t find a job my days these past year became a blur. I have spent hours in social media, such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Netflix watching T.V series, movies, documentaries and spiraling into what I call “The College Graduate Depression”. This stage is a really sad one, for you realize that you can’t go foward, because you can’t get a job and to get a job you need experience. What’s even sadder is that all of my friends got in this stage together and even more depressing? We couldn’t meet up and didn’t talk much (in person) because to meet up equals gas equals money equals no job equals no money. So this is a vicious and deadly cycle which needs to stop.

In this realization I started to look for methods of escaping. It sounds like a rivating tale of survival (which it is). The plan was the same: “how do I get out of here (the island)?” “how can I at least find a job, save up some money, and go to that first question?” I spent countles hours searching for “the escape”. I searched for other music programs and decided I would apply for Western Illinois University, Westminister Choir College, & re-apply to Florida State University. I got accepted into Western Illinois University’s Master’s in Music Program (Choral Conducting, Performance) as well as Florida State University (again). I also passed the first audition for Westminister Choir College (I still can’t believe it!) but I couldn’t go to their on-campus audition due to lack of money.

So what’s next?

After being accepted into both programs, interviewed by Dr. James Stegall, Director of Choral Activities from Western Illinois University and analyzing my chances in both universities. I decided to go to WIU and start my post-graduate education Illinois. As part of being a graduate student in WIU I will be a Graduate Assistant for Choirs. Since everything will be a brand new experience (leaving the island on my own for the first time, and studying “abroad”) I’ll be blogging regularly and sharing all my experiences in Illinois with you all. I hope you enjoy them as much as I know I will. I hope you enjoy this crazy ride you’re about to take with me. Please remember to have both hands and feet inside the machine at all times!


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