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Draw away from the family to face an unknown culture and a new academic challenge, were some of the situations that Carlos Mario Rodríguez, graduated from the School of Arts and Music of Sergio Arboleda University, had to overcome when he moved to Boston to attend the Master of Arts in Education at one of the most prestigious universities in the world: Harvard.
In 2015, after obtaining his title of professional musician, Carlos Mario began the search for a postgraduate program abroad that combined his passion for teaching, music and composition.
“The search of academic programs must be systematic. First, you have to think which countries and cities are among the options and in which area you desire to deepen, without neglecting the teachers of each subject”, commented Carlos Mario, adding that, according to the area of emphasis and depending on the country there are more or less options to study.
He also remembered that he didn’t take into account the time that this important exploration effort eventually took. “It is a long process because you should always review the programs, their approaches, the work of the teachers, and the work done by the students of the institutions”, explained the musician.
Checking the universities, he got the Master of Arts in Education of Harvard University and began his admission in October of 2015. To apply to this program he had to do the TOEFL and the GRE, two English exams, required for postgraduate studies in several educational institutions.
“For English exams I didn’t have to prepare me so much because during my career of Music in La Sergio, great part of the contents were in English. This allowed me to maintain a high level in this language that I learned in the school”, said the graduate.
In addition, to complete his application to this prestigious university, he was interviewed and then he sent his academic transcripts and qualifications, his resume, some recommendation letters issued by his teachers and his portfolio.
In August 2016, he travelled and began this adventure in this institution of higher education, considered the oldest one of the United States and, in that way, he began his immersion in a new cultural and academic lifestyle.
“Something that impressive me in classrooms was the student mentality. Harvard is a university to which many people apply but the percentage of admitted is very low, therefore, the people admitted really want to study there and they have had a good process in previous academic instances. So the environment for those of us who like to study is ideal”, commented Carlos Mario, “there, the students truly want to study”.
At Harvard “there is no competition but rather collective enrichment: the contribution of ideas and the desire to work in groups to explore further in knowledge is constant”, said Carlos.
His academic experience is based on Harvard University’s distinctive teaching strategy, as well as on direct contact with teachers, this, added to the opportunity to share with outstanding composers of the music scene.
“An aspect that marked me of this experience was the attitude of the professors regarding the exposition of their approaches because everything is object of debate. They value the opinion of their students and with this attitude they invite them to reflect and change”, added Carlos Mario.
He also emphasized that experiences like these transform the perception of education and the world, and particularly of the music: “It led me to question my identity as an artist and teacher. It gave me more security and projection”.
But his learning was not only in the classrooms; this Sergista took the opportunity to learn about American culture, its gastronomy and traditions from other latitudes.
He said that about 20% of his peers were open-minded foreigners.
“In Harvard culture, respect for others in social, religious and sexual orientation contexts is evident,” said Carlos Mario.
“I feel that I am now more sensitive to the musical qualities of people. […] My focus is on finding out what I can offer to help empower future artists”.
Carlos Mario returned to the country last July and his advice for Sergistas students is to take advantage and live adventures abroad like this. “With a good projection and a good process during the undergraduate, there are no barriers to get where you want, if you propose”.
Related to the strengths that Sergio Arboleda University left him and that took him to fulfill his dreams in this American university, he said: “The knowledge that delivers and the abilities that stimulates to appropriate of the music are excellent. The University lays the foundations for essential concepts (analytics, theory, literacy, instrument management, among others) and in this way the door is open for deepening, ” he concluded.
For all this and more, Carlos Mario plans in the short term to dedicate himself to university teaching, with the conviction that there he will find the perfect balance between music and education.
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