Spotlight: Clara Auguste Mohagen

Meet Clara Auguste Mohagen our Education Coordinator! Clara has been on our team for 6 months now and has already made an ever-lasting impact. Learn more about Clara and her life inside and outside of Music Forward.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey leading to your role at Music Forward.

The arts and creativity have always been a part of my life. I was born in Haiti and raised in Miami, Florida. I began dancing at the age of eight thanks to a local nonprofit, the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. I hold a BA in Dance from Hunter College, City University of New York and an MFA from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance Department. In Fall 2016, I established Aeternus Dance Company as a means to collaborate with dancers and share creative works with audiences. As a choreographer, I have shown works at several venues including Junior High Los Angeles, Greenspace, Judson Church/Movement Research, BAAD Bronx, Danspace Project, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Triskelion Arts, The Actor’s Fund Art’s Center Theatre, and Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse and Blackbox Theater. 

I have always and continue to hold great curiosity about business and in the past, I have had the wonderful opportunity of working for various startups, nonprofits, and corporations. I have also worked with students ranging from 3 years old to 70 years old in the education space. I think that the role I hold now at Music Forward encompasses many of my interests, passions, and skills and fosters an exciting learning environment to enhance these three components.

Describe what you do at Music Forward and what is your favorite aspect of your role (so far)?

I am the Education Coordinator at Music Forward. I typically work as a link between students,  internal staff, and music industry partners throughout the various programs and opportunities that Music Forward offers. My favorite aspects of the role include interacting with the students, whether it be through one-on-one mock interviews, or sharing the numerous opportunities that are often available to them such as internships, scholarships, gift prizes, etc. While supporting such programs as Office Hours and Open Mic Fridays I also get to enjoy experiencing first-hand how Music Forward changes and impacts young people’s lives for the better. Whether it be through knowledge and motivational tips that industry experts share or gaining awareness about career paths and opportunities they never knew existed for them.

How do you feel your previous experience has helpped you support and work with young professionals?

I believe my experience working with young professionals in the past helps me to better understand and relate to where they are in their current career paths. If I’ve learned anything while working with young people during the pandemic, it has been to approach every interaction with the utmost care and understanding.

Growing up, who or what were some of your inspirations?

 Probably Destiny’s Child and Shakira but most recently, Donald Glover.

What do you think are the secrets behind getting to where you want to be?

I believe being strategic towards your goals, hard work, perseverance, and believing in yourself help tremendously in getting where you want to be. Having experienced first-hand how my parents were able to start a new life in a foreign country, forging accessible paths of potential and endless possibility for me and my siblings, has been a gentle reminder that anything is possible through resilience. 

What piece of advice would you give to young people looking to start their careers?

Hone in on your interests and skills and utilize your institution’s career center if you have one. Have a clear vision of the kind of career you dream of. Begin looking for internships very early on to gain experience and knowledge about what roles and companies might be a good fit for you later on. 

What has been your most memorable or favorite live music experience?

I have so many! It’s hard to pick one. I have to say that seeing UK-based artist, Tricky, at Webster Hall in 2016 was beyond amazing because I’m just such a fan of his music and I never thought I’d get the chance to see him perform live while living in the States, so that was a really special experience. I’ve enjoyed every AfroPunk festival that I’ve been to and I hope to one day go to one of their international festivals. I also got a chance to attend the 60th Annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden in 2018 as part of the Mosh Pit! I was basically right next to the stage (or right under it) and I pretty much got to see EVERYONE (Yes, Beyoncé too) that night, so, there’s that. 

How does music move you?

I grew up watching VH1 and MTV’s daily countdowns at 6 AM while getting ready for school during my elementary years. During my time in New York, you could always find me with my noise-canceling headphones on my daily commute. My family and later on, my roommates would oftentimes have to deal with me either singing or listening to music for countless hours. Music has always been a part of my life and I can’t imagine a time when I’ve interacted with music and it hasn’t left me feeling better, whether it be listening to my favorite album, finding a new song that instantly pulls me in, or singing at the top of my lungs so the neighbors can hear. Sometimes I use it as motivation to get through a tough day, other times to draw a connection to a shared experience between the artist/lyrics, and to connect back to my roots.

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