Music major keeping time


Eventually, Pima Community College student Anessa Dominique Quijada Rivera wants a career working behind the scenes in the music industry.

For now, the 20-year-old voice major is taking 19 credits and working part time at Starbucks.

“I have to take piano, music theory, oral perception, choir and my voice lessons,” Rivera says. “My favorite and most challenging class is piano. I didn’t know any of it at first but it’s a lot of memorization and connections.”

Her schedule includes one general education class, and she’ll use summer school to catch up on other gen-ed requirements. Rivera has also worked at Starbucks for more than three years. “I love it,” she says. “It’s the best job I’ve had.”

Her work schedule is just as hectic as her school schedule, but she likes the rush of working the busy morning shift.

“I work really early morning opening shifts at like, 4 a.m.,” she says. “I wake up 10 minutes before I need to leave, do the usual and leave. It’s really close to my house, so that’s really nice.”

Rivera calls communication the key to managing school, work and an active social life.

“I keep in touch with my manager and my instructors and I use a planner to write everything down so I don’t lose track of what’s going on,” she says.

Rivera enjoys spending time with friends and family, and goes out on the town for a fun night. She also makes time for a long distance relationship with her boyfriend, Garrett.

“Long distance is hard,” she says with a groan. “But it’s so worth it. We’ve been together for three years now and I wouldn’t want to do that with anyone else.”

Her family offers plenty of support, but also values independence. “Obviously if we need help from one another we’ll be there, but my parents raised us very independent so that we don’t have to rely on other people,” she says.

Rivera has four siblings. Milani is a sophomore at Ironwood Ridge High School. Her half-brother Jordan attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Her half-sister Victoria Quijada Serrano became a mom two years ago. Ashlynn will soon be adopted into the family. Older sister Victoria thinks Rivera holds valuable traits.

“Her ability to love people unconditionally and her charismatic personality are my favorite traits about her,” Serrano says.

Rivera has begun planning where she’ll transfer after her two years at PCC.

“I know I want to go out of state, like to California or Texas,” she says. “My music theory teacher offered to help me out with making that decision but I don’t have to worry about it all right now.”

While at PCC, she plans on adding extracurricular fine arts activities to improve her skills.

“I’ve been very interested in the music theater program here, so I’m auditioning in the fall,” she says.

“I also thought about doing the dance program.” Rivera considers herself an R&B/Soul artist but knows she’ll need to choose a different major. “You can’t get a degree in that in the U.S, so I was thinking music business,” she says. “That way I could help people get into the industry and maybe even produce some stuff.”

She also understands that success in the music industry hinges on making connections. “I’ve talked to instructors about it but they’ve said I will have to meet the right people,” she says.

“I have to make connections with many different people and I’m very out there with people so I know I can do it.” In addition to her love of R&B/Soul, Rivera is working to master other musical genres. “Classical music and Broadway are the best ways to better your voice,” she says.

Rivera firmly believes in following her dreams and offers advice to those who are also interested in the music industry.

“Stay updated in what is going on now and learn the history of the music,” she says.

“Don’t give up on yourself and be yourself. Really go after what you want.”

Voice music major Anessa Rivera practices on the piano in a Pima Community College studio. (Nicholas Trujillo/Aztec Press)

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