Music & Dance

Michelle Varela

“I had a lot of people doubting me. So I decided—instead of doubting myself—that I would just push myself to go for my goals.”

“I’m actually a lot more energetic since I started school at SMC. I actually love the thought of coming here, because it gives me something to look forward to every day,” says Michelle Varela, who was in her first semester at SMC. But her enthusiasm for college and learning was not always a given. “I was basically in the middle of a lot of problems, and I wasn’t actually thinking of going to college,” she says. “But I decided to go to school to get away from those problems, and I did escape some of them, but not all. But I’ve actually overcome everything, and I’m very happy to be doing what I’m doing now.”

At the SMC Performing Arts Center, Michelle has seen herself blossom as both a musician and a person. “I’ve been playing violin now for about seven years, and I’m feeling very encouraged about becoming a music teacher,” says the young woman who was looking forward to performing a dance piece at the Broad Stage. “I’ve loved working with kids ever since elementary school. And 10 years from now, I expect to be right back at my old elementary school, this time teaching kids. I just loved watching my teachers teach, and I was always volunteering to help them.”

Inspired by her teachers and children and her music, Michelle has some distinct plans in the offing. “Mills College reps came to visit us today, and it seems like a good choice for me. It has both Music and Teaching programs,” she continues, “so I can get on with the two tracks my life has taken. Surprisingly, education is giving me answers to a lot of my questions.”

Read more stories from present and past years in the SMC Student Spotlight Archive.​