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Balancing School AND a Career in the Arts: Two College Artists Share Their Stories

College can be a pretty crazy and hectic time for ALL of us. We have to deal with our classes, our social life, and of course thinking about our future. But what if on top of all that, you were also pursuing a career in the arts? Well, HC thought that we would profile two women who are professionally pursuing their artistic passions while handling a busy college schedule. So let’s find out how two talented girls deal with classes, college life, and careers, all at the same time!

Rachel Lee: The Musician

Balancing schoolwork and being a professional classical musician is no piece of cake. But Rachel Lee finds a way to do it. When the Harvard English major isn’t analyzing literature or writing papers, she is either practicing or performing the violin. Rachel has been playing the violin since before she started kindergarten and has been performing professionally for over ten years. When she was young, she remembers thinking that “the idea of making beautiful and expressive sounds on an instrument and performing in front of an audience really excited me.” Throughout her extensive career, Rachel has performed with the National Symphony, the Colorado Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, and has also performed in Korea and in Europe many times. She has certainly accomplished quite a lot at such a young age!
How does she balance school, her career, and her social life? “Balancing everything has always been a bit challenging,” she said, Although it is tough to balance both school and her career, Rachel is glad that she went to a university rather than a conservatory because of the “stimulating intellectual and social environment.” In terms of her social life, Rachel says that when she is traveling, she “misses seeing her friends.” In the future, Rachel hopes to explore new types of music and also discover lesser-known pieces by living composers so that she “can bring them [the new pieces] to a wider audience.” Rachel’s aim is to enlighten more people, especially the younger generations, about the beauty that lies within classical music. Keep an eye out for a performance by Rachel near you! Here is a little taste of her musical talents.

Puanani Brown: The Dancer

Many little girls dream of being a ballerina. For Puanani Brown, this dream became a reality. Puanani began her training when she was seven years old at the Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C. Throughout her childhood, she had a rigorous dance schedule (sometimes six days a week) and had to balance her schoolwork with her dance classes and the commute in between. But it all paid off when, at the age of 16, Puanani was accepted to the School of American Ballet in New York City. At SAB, she was one of the few who was still taking high school classes. But Puanani had a really great group of friends who she says “kept hanging out with me despite the homework they noticed I carried with me at all times.” She felt that her balance between school and dance “was a challenge,” but that she “was determined and lucky enough to make it work.” Her determination and passion for dance certainly took her a long way.
Currently, Puanani is on leave from Harvard to pursue her dancing career. She is enrolled at the Ballet Academy East in Manhattan where she dances between 3 to 6 hours per day. What a workout! She also has been auditioning for dance productions, and is working on landing a Euro-audition tour for March. She says that she “definitely misses school from time to time,” but that she plans to return to Harvard when she is done with her dancing career and “has an idea of what she wants to do with [her] life besides ballet”. If you want to watch Puanani in action check her out here! Congratulations to both Rachel and Puanani for making it so far in their careers at such a young age. They are living proof that dreams really can come true (if you work hard enough)! Sources: Rachel Lee, Harvard College 2010 Puanani Brown, Harvard College

Marissa is a sophomore at New York University. She is a media, culture, and communications major with a concentration in journalism and a minor in history. She is originally from the Boston area. She has held internships at W magazine, Wenner Media, and the Improper Bostonian Magazine. Right now, she is currently interning at Rolling Stone and loves it! She is also a contributing writer for universitychic.com. She loves NYC and hopes to pursue a career in political journalism either there or abroad. In her spare time she loves to read (her favorite author F. Scott Fitzgerald), travel, write, eat sushi, and discover unknown parks in New York City.
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