Self-Advocacy: Surviving the First Semester of College without an IEP

My interest in playing music began when I was given a guitar class in 9th grade. Throughout my time at the charter high school I was attending, the guidance of my music mentors helped me to become a full fledged musician. They introduced me to new types of music, summer programs, different instruments, and by the time my senior year had ended, they had introduced me to the music schools that they knew would fit me best.

I was even accepted to the California Institute of the Arts (Calarts), but when the cost was too high, my music mentors once again helped me to be in the best place I could be. They introduced and urged me to attend the Herb Alpert School of Music at Los Angeles City College. There is an amazing scholarship program there called the Herb Alpert Scholarship. It puts full-time music students on a track to complete an associates degree, transfer to UCLA or Calarts, and could help pay with tuition at those schools.

If I weren’t a musician, I would have been nervous about the transition to a school that most likely didn’t provide the same level of support I had with an IEP. Throughout the semester I realized that due to the curriculum being so music focused, I didn’t have much need for all the support I had in high school. But when I did need it, the Office of Special Services at LACC was there to ease the stress of general education classes. Unfortunately, they are highly understaffed, but that’s a topic for another blog.

I took many high intensity classes required by the scholarship program, and I was able to maintain good grades the whole time. I took a piano class, a music theory class, and a very demanding general ed class that required listening and analyzing pieces from every period of music history, music appreciation.

But the bulk of my experience came from my performance classes.  

I was the only bass player in all of the applied program, meaning the only full-time bass player on campus every day, Monday through Friday. So, I was given the unique opportunity to play with a large amount of the applied program. Because of this, I was even given an award with a check for accompanying so many people in so many different settings throughout the semester.

I played with almost every group (about 5 or 6 in total) in my jazz class, I accompanied many people for Masterclass Performances, and I played for people in almost every instance of music 152 (a concert class). All while rehearsing, keeping up with homework, private lessons, mandatory practice hours, and maintaining a social life. I got a couple gigs outside of school too.

I just finished my busiest and most fulfilling semester of education so far, and throughout all of it, I found myself using everything I learned from my mentors throughout my whole semester of college, and I was able to learn a whole lot more.

What do you think?

The following two tabs change content below.

Enrique Duarte, IV

Enrique Duarte, IV

Enrique Duarte, IV lives in East Los Angeles. He enjoys reading, traveling, and composing music. He is a college student. He is a board member of the Autism Society of Los Angeles, serving as the Community Liaison Director. He served on the L.A. Mayors Youth Council. From the age of nine, Enrique has been an active self-advocate, volunteer for many non-profit organizations, speaker, and voice in the autism, developmental disabilities and mental health community. He is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist musician, is currently in a band, and is recording a demo.

More Comments