Extracurricular musician does it all

Campus Times
April 30, 1999


photo by Erica Paal

Velazquez some how arranges time to work on projects for Chemistry. With multiple interest ranging from music to Chemistry, Velazquez also has a wide range of duties as a recognized campus leader. Aside from the many hats he already wears fulfilling these duties, Velazquez also shuffles his schedule to make time for tennis, the Student Advising Athletic Council and the Learning Enhancement Center, where he tutors.

by Brice Nixon
Staff Writer

It is 4 a.m. on Thursday. While most students at the University of La Verne are sleeping, senior Sergio Velazquez is wide awake.

He is making phone calls, leaving voice mail messages to promote the latest function he organized as part of his duties as a program assistant.

"I want people to remember the program," said Velazquez. "They remember that, as if opposed to if I called at two in the afternoon."

It is just another day in the life of Velazquez, who said he rarely gets more than two or three hours of sleep.

Majoring in music and chemistry, Velazquez will complete his fifth year at La Verne when he graduates this May. But his time at La Verne has been dedicated to more than just academics, in fact, very far from it.

"I did everything," said Velazquez. "As a student, I wanted to get to know everything. The reason is because I'll never have this opportunity again.

"My objective was to do a little bit of everything," he said. "And then, everything that I did a little bit, I wanted to do my best."

"My whole experience was to get a good feel of life. That was ... my main purpose. I think it made me a better person," he said.

Currently, some of Velazquez's involvements include serving as a teacher's assistant in the chemistry department, a program assistant, a member of the ULV Student Advisory Athletic Council, and a member of the Society of Physical and Life Science Scholars (SPLSS).

"It's great to learn from all aspects of life," said Velazquez. "That's what it is, it's life. To get a little bit of everything, I think, was awesome."

Although Velazquez has been involved in a wide-ranging list of activities, and a very long list at that, until last spring, he felt that something was missing.

So, to "complete the circle," Velazquez joined a fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, in which he is currently philanthropy and risk management chair.

"I thought the last thing on campus for me to do was to join a frat," he said. "I know I did everything."

Also, it was not enough for Velazquez to only be a member of a club, he had to start his own. Thus, the ULV Amateur Radio Club was formed.

At present, Velazquez is also a five-subject tutor at the Learning Enhancement Center and through his fraternity volunteers as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program, cleaning, in both directions, the side of a two-mile stretch of Highway 30.

In addition, Velazquez has been a member of La Verne's tennis team for four years, only taking a break from it during his junior year, as he knew he would be at ULV for five years.

He was the No. 1 singles player the last two years for the Leopards, who just completed their season.

All of Velazquez's involvements and responsibilities have taken a toll, however.

"Especially now, I feel really tired," said Velazquez, the bags under his eyes and exhaustion on his face clearly evident. "My main enemy is time."

But if there is one thing he does not lack, it is charisma, despite the fatigue brought on by his hectic schedule.

"I like to be kept busy and I like the mind to think," he said. "I can't sit here and go 'What am I going to do?' I have to be moving.

"That's why I took chemistry," Velazquez said, in regard to one of his majors. "I found that chemistry was the most difficult. Making that the most difficult, I decided that's my major. I want that challenge. I don't want it to be easy."

Velazquez credits his parents for the success he has experienced.

"They've always pushed me," he said. "They're very supportive. They've always been supportive. If it wasn't for them, I don't know where I would be."

Velazquez's zeal for life and school is obvious.

"Love school," he said, "love it. I love to learn. La Verne has just been tremendous. La Verne gave me that opportunity to become who I am. I don't think you can get that at any other school."

His compassion for humanity also stands out.

"I love helping people," he said. "I care for people. I can't be a mean person. I really think if you treat people really nice, if you treat 'em well, they'll respect you.

"My main goal in life is to make people happy, 'cause when they're happy it makes me happy. That's my motivator."

"I would love to be able to give more time to society, to the community," he said, lamenting the fact that he does not have that opportunity because of his busy schedule.

Velazquez is now working toward completion of both his senior projects.

His chemistry project deals with natural products. He is working with a Native American plant in an attempt to find new naturally-occurring chemicals which have medicinal uses.

He had been working with a plant from Uruguay said to possess several disease-fighting qualities and was very close to completion when he learned that a university in Brazil completed research on the same plant in July 1998.

Music, however, remains his first love.

"I'll never let go of the music," said Velazquez, who has played the piano since he was 9. "Music will always be part of my life. I will always compose music."

His senior project for music will be a May 22 performance at 8 p.m. in the Daily Theatre.

Velazquez said the free performance will include two parts. The first half will feature a solo performance by Velazquez on the piano. The second half will include more contemporary music as well as other musicians.

Velazquez also said he plans to make at least one CD.

"I will come out with a CD," he said. "My first goal is to come out with my own stuff. New age is the genre.

"Music's a way for me to express my feelings, and I think I differ from other pianists in a sense that I put emotion into the music."

Velazquez said that, although it has been somewhat exaggerated, he has a fondness for the '80s, including the music.

"The thing about the '80s, those were really good times for me," he said. "I like piano, and that time was synthesized, a lot of synthesized sounds. It's a genre that's so distinctive."

He also said his love of the '80s is something by which he will be remembered.

"They won't remember what I did, but they'll remember, like, 'Oh yeah, you're the guy that loved the '80s.' "

"I want people to remember me. I'll be proud to say it, I love the '80s. Outside my door I have a big poster that says, 'Long live the '80s.'"

photo by Erica Paal

Senior Sergio Velazquez takes on several activities to fill his college life at ULV. He must balance between Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and Program Assistant commitments he has made, Velazquez makes time to practices for his senior recital in May.