As a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, Alana recently completed her senior year at La Cañada High School where she excelled in every academic subject. In fact, her cumulative GPA was 4.38. In addition, she participated in numerous community service activities and was an active member of Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, an international recognized youth music organization that regularly performs with Los Angeles Opera and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Motivated to mentor other children who do not have access to music, Alana founded her own choir of 15 children who were part of an after-school program for at-risk youth in Pasadena, CA. Without Alana, the children would have no access to music. Alana originally started this choir in fulfillment of her Girl Scout Gold Award. Although she received that award three years ago, she realized that without her being there, the children would have no music in their lives. When the organization that ran the after-school program lost its funding, Alana arranged to continue to conduct the choir in the same neighborhood, but directly through the local elementary school, Madison Elementary, as part of the school’s own after school program. She sought out a volunteer piano accompanist and borrowed music from Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.
Madison has very little money, no other music program and is composed mostly of immigrant children. She met with her choir every Friday afternoon. Although only in high school, Alana selected the repertoire, conducted the chorus and taught basic music theory.
Alana has reached out to build a bridge to children who have no access to music at school. The arts community of greater Los Angeles is unknown, unfamiliar and virtually unreachable by most of the families at Madison who cannot afford to attend music events and concerts, or obtain music lessons for their children.
Recently, Alana identified children in her chorus whom she encouraged to audition for Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Last May, she mentored them through the process by familiarizing them with the songs they would be asked to sing for audition, and by arranging for a scholarship to pay their $50 audition fee. Two children were admitted this fall, with full tuition scholarships. It will significantly change their lives, bringing them into contact with a wide range of people and places, and an art form that will help shape and influence their intellectual growth. It goes without saying that Alana has taken her own opportunities and knowledge and used them in a creative and innovative way to serve as a mentor to underserved youth. Although only in her first semester of college as a double major in music and English, Alana has already begun planning the start-up of a new choir at a local public school in the Berkeley area for this January.
Alana conducts herself with poise and grace, and maturity beyond her years. She is a thoughtful and compassionate person, as well as a natural leader, who has achieved more in her short life than most people in a lifetime.