Three Years in Japan Changed Life’s Path for Award-Winning Professor Dr. Susan Epstein García, right, inspires students to follow their heart’s desire. Dr. Susan Epstein García, an MDC Endowed Teaching Chair and professor of music theory and composition at New World School of the Arts, easily connects with students who struggle to juggle work and college simultaneously. Epstein García empathizes with students grappling with the idea of changing course, starting over or deciding on a more inspired life plan. She was one of them once. “I’ve been that person who didn’t know what to do, changed my mind and then found myself,” Epstein García said. “I’ve been that young adult who had five roommates, played three gigs on the weekend and still made it to school Monday morning. “My parents didn’t pay for my college education. I’ve been that person who was moonlighting at Children’s Hospital in Boston where the cost of living is much higher than Miami.” Epstein García was studying administrative management at the University of Cincinnati in 1985 – just a few months shy of graduation – when she decided her major wasn’t for her. She quit school and joined a band – “The Look” – as a keyboard player. She performed six nights a week, 9 p.m. until 4 a.m., touring Japan for three years before going back to school. “I became serious about being a musician,” she said, “and I wanted to become educated.” She completed a bachelor’s in film scoring at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music then went on to earn a doctorate in composition at Boston University. That led to a teaching job in New Hampshire, and, ultimately, to New World School of the Arts in 1999. “I’ve shared those experiences with my students,” she said. “I really encourage them to persevere in college and follow their heart’s desire.” – WV
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