Editor’s note: This is the fourth and final installment of“A Tale of Two Santa Anas,” where our graduating high school seniors tell the story of their personal journey in their own words. We are so proud of these students, who later this year will begin attending colleges and universities.
Growing up, I was probably the last person you’d expect to be standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people, singing solos or playing the guitar.
Back in elementary school I was very shy and reserved. Except for walking to and from school each day, I pretty much stayed inside our family’s rented house doing my homework, reading books and listening to music.
Today, I’m an 18-year-old graduate of Valley High School in Santa Ana. This fall, I will begin attending San Francisco State University, where I intend to earn a bachelor of music degree.
Our family--my Dad, Mom, and sisters, Emily, 14 and Ailani, seven, and me--live about one block from KidWorks’ Dan Donahue Center. I’ve lived there since I was born.
For as long as I can remember, our neighborhood has had a lot of gang violence and poverty. But that doesn’t mean every kid falls into that trap.
I credit my parents for giving me a strong sense of right and wrong. “Listen to your inner voice,” my Mom always says. “That voice will tell you what choice to make.”
My love of music is probably something I get from my Dad. From the earliest age, I remember how he introduced me to all his favorite kinds of music—rock, traditional Mexican music and classical.
For the past several years, I’ve been part of KidWorks’ Avanti program, where high school students like me learn from Joe Cristina a professional musician. We get actual experience in composition, arranging, orchestration and production.
Thanks to Joe and KidWorks, I’ve now sung and played music before live audiences. Also, each year in high school, I was part of our choir, and last year auditioned and was accepted by the Southern California Vocal Association Honor Choir.
I hope that my professional musical career will include touring the country, singing and playing music. Yet, no matter where my love of music takes me, I’ll always remember Santa Ana, my city. I’ll also always be forever grateful to KidWorks’ and the wonderful staff and volunteers who helped me all these years.
By Lilian Ramirez