Diamonds in the rough

Diamonds in the rough

Open Mic Night at Pierce College, hosted by Associated Student Organization gave Brahmas the opportunity to present their works of poetry, music, singing and comedy to a packed crowd of students and community members on Friday night.

Sophomore student and jazz guitar major Jonah Matos played electric guitar and performed to “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room,” by John Mayer. 

Matos believes the Pierce community has a lot of talented students whose gifts are not always displayed.  

“I feel like as a community our school really holds a lot of diamonds in the rough, so to speak,” Matos said. “We have such wonderful talents who just shine so brightly, but we never really see it. So, I feel that it’s imperative to have an event like this so that people can feel comfortable within themselves and around other people to show what they truly have inside of them.”   

Sophomore student and child development major Lori Edukugho recited her poem that touched on the fear that many have to overcome.  

“I know without a doubt, there are so many young people who don’t believe in themselves and it hurts my heart,” Edukugho said. “Every single person on this Earth has something that has been deposited in us, we just got to believe it. We’re predestined for success.” 

During her time on the stage, Edukugho mentioned she is 60 years old and fear was something that she too has to deal with. Her goal is to reach the youth with her message and even adults.   

“We have to let go of fear because fear is holding so many of us back,” Edukugho said. “Even at my age, so much fear is holding us back. And I know my vision of speaking to the youth has evolved to not only include the youth but also to include adults. Because so many of us are stuck. We’re afraid to step out because of what others may say. We got to get past that. It’s taken me a long time to stand where I am now.” 

Edukugho does not think of herself as a poet, even though she recited her own poetry on Open Mic Night. The poem she recited was formed when she prematurely answered her daughter in anger, felt guilty and regretted it instantly. 

“To be honest, I wouldn’t call myself a poet,” Edukugho said. “Like I said, my writings started from an incident that occurred with my young daughter and since then I’ve been writing a few poems here and there. I have a collection that’s copyrighted but I just enjoy writing. It’s to motivate our youth. That’s what gives me the passion to write. It’s about the youth because too many of our youth are not believing in themselves, they are not walking in their purpose.” 

Freshman student and music major Alberto Colmenares-Pena performed “Wouldn’t You Like to Know Me?” by Paul Stanely of Kiss, with the crowd clapping along. 

Colmenares-Pena admitted that he was nervous before his performance. 

“I was a little nervous in the beginning,” Colmenares-Pena said. “But as soon as I was ready to get going, I just went for it.”   

When he was thinking about performing at Open Mic Night, he wanted to make the most out of the experience. 

“I figured if I wanted to perform for Open Mic Night, I’d rather just do it with some passion and have fun with it,” Colmenares-Pena said.   

Colmenares-Pena discussed the process he went through while trying to figure out what song to play and how he wanted to do something he may not have always been comfortable doing.   

“For starters I really wanted to jump out of what was my previous comfort zone,” Colmenares-Pena said. “Back when I started as a beginner in guitar, I was a little bit hesitant to perform. Plus I was also hesitant to sing while playing because I thought I might mess up. I went through a lot of trial and error on what songs I really love to do and some of them didn’t have that fun feeling like this song does.”  

He chose the song by Paul Stanely because he felt that it would be relatable to everyone.  

“Everyone wants to know who we are,” Colmenares-Pena said. “Plus if they want to know who I am, I’m all for it. I welcome people with open arms. I’m always here for people.” 

Sophomore student and music education major Hasti Almasi was one of the hosts of the event and the president of the Music Club on campus. The event was important to her. The conversations that came with planning Open Mic Night were about the positive impact the arts can have on mental health and providing an outlet for creatives, according to Alamsi.

“There are so many individuals that are creative no matter what facet of education that they are pursuing,” Almasi said. “And I feel that space should be more readily available at Pierce. That was our main goal for making this happen.”

Aspiring artist VX raps at Open Mic Night at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif., on May 19, 2023. Photo by Kyanna Hojati.