The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

International student strives in City College’s music department

Isabelle Sinibaldi
International student Kerstin Nguyen practices her vocal techniques on Thursday, April 28, in the Drama-Music Building at Santa Barbara City College. Nguyen has written two original songs, one of which was performed during the singer-songwriter showcase at the Guitar Bar last month.

Earning a degree and finding success quickly after graduating college is what students look forward to, but that isn’t always the case for some.

When Kerstin Nguyen graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in economics, she found a job as an accountant. However, she felt unhappy with this career path.

Nguyen, 24, left Sweden to study at City College this semester. Once she got settled, she finally felt that she was where she belonged.

“I had all these bad feelings and emotions,” said Nguyen. “Coming here, I finally had a place to get it all together.”

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When Nguyen started her class in Music 154, “Vocal Techniques I,” with Professor Nathan Kreitzer and Music 128A, “Songwriting I,” with Professor John Clarke, they made her realize that her talents were more than just a hobby.

Nguyen remembers singing along to karaoke with her father when she was a little girl, and it soon became something that Nguyen grew to love.

Although Nguyen is trilingual, speaking Vietnamese, English and Swedish, she prefers to sing in English.

“Somehow how I feel more connected to the English language,” she said. “I can express myself easier using it. The words just flow more than the other two languages.”

However, as she pursued it more, her parents found it difficult to be fully supportive because they felt that pursuing a career in music would not be financially stable.

“They wanted me to have a career that was secure,” Nguyen said.

Nonetheless, since Nguyen’s move to Santa Barbara, she has been able to pursue her “true self.” Taking the vocal techniques class with Kreitzer has helped Nguyen improve her voice, as well as gain confidence with her talent. She is also a part of the Chamber Singers and Concert Choir.

“Kirsten is a very bright, energetic and enthusiastic student… She is a perfect example of how our international student group enhances the other students’ learning experience at SBCC,” said Kreitzer.

Along with her singing talents, Nguyen has also found enjoyment with songwriting. Nguyen’s first song she wrote for the class was performed during the singer-songwriter showcase at the Guitar Bar last month.

Although she was nervous the first time she performed in front of a crowd, she told herself that the stage was her home.

Nguyen’s experience at City College this semester as an international student has been positive and plans to return in the fall. She is going to continue taking music classes, and her family has grown more supportive of Nguyen’s talents.

“You can always improve, you can always be better,” said Nguyen. “It’s beautiful.”

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