Spotlight: Oswaldo Navarro

Meet Oswaldo Navarro, our Education Partnerships Manager. In this role he connects with both our educational partners and with our program participants. Learn more about him and his career journey.!

What is your role at Music Forward and what is your favorite part of what you do?

I currently serve as the Education Partnerships Manager. My goal is to serve as the bridge between Music Forward and education institutions. My goal is to collaborate and partner to help students gain awareness and participate in our programs such as Office Hours, mentoring programs, internship opportunities, scholarships, etc. My favorite aspect of my role is connecting with universities and students across the country to share just how Music Forward can provide support to them in their academic and professional journey.

What drew you to the education sector and how did you get your start?

I always wanted to become a teacher, but when I graduated in 2008 (at the height of the recession) the credential program that I had been admitted to decided to not continue with our cohort due to funding issues. I instead decided to pursue my degree in social work and started out my career as a clinical therapist working with probation and foster youth. I soon realized that the common denominator with all of my clients seemed to be the education system failing them. I later decided to leave the clinical world and go into the K-12 setting.  I served as a Dropout Prevention Counselor in South Central Los Angeles and  it was honestly one of the best experiences of my professional journey! 

I learned so much from the community that I served for five years and this experience pushed me harder to continue to serve students and communities and to continue to pursue my career into the area of workforce development, committed to providing opportunities for others.

How do you feel your background helps you to support young people in your role?

My personal and professional experience has really allowed me to understand the youth we serve. 

Being a product of immigrant parents and a first-generation college student, I understand where the students are coming from– not knowing about the resources to support our academic and professional journey, the importance of a resume, networking, and all the essentials needed post-graduation. Knowing this drives me to support our students in our programming and also to help them take advantage of various other opportunities such as internships.

What do you enjoy most about working with youth?

Working with youth is my driving force.

Seeing each student’s tenacity, resilience, and growth inspires me to continue to serve the youth. Seeing our youth’s eagerness to want to learn and grow inspires me to serve them with our programming and opportunities that we have. I always think back to what my 21-year-old self would want, what would have helped me feel supported during those first few years of my professional development. What would have helped set me up for success? Now, having the opportunity to serve as a resource for students and seeing them develop into young professionals makes it worth the countless hours we as a team put into our programs.

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

My older siblings. I have two older brothers and one older sister who served as substitute parents at times, while growing up. At the time I hated it, but now I understand why they pushed me to excel in my academics, leadership, and work ethic. Being older, I now understand that their tough love was shaping me to prepare myself as an adult and that they only wanted to see me thriving. Witnessing them all graduate from college really motivated me to continue my education and follow them in their path towards success.

What piece of advice would you give to young professionals pursuing their dream career?

Never give up. I know it sounds cliché, but do not let a “no” or multiple “nos” deter you from your career aspirations. Working with students, I have seen how one rejection has impacted their decision to continue their dream. As I tell students, just because they say no doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to continue on your journey.  A rejection is an opportunity for you to better your toolkit with a stronger resumé, network, practice your pitch, interview skills, and to use the resources around you to land an opportunity.

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

Coachella 2018. Beyoncé. 

Witnessing one of the best performances I have ever seen live. I have been to five out of her eight tours (yes, I am part of the Beyhive) and this performance was indescribable and worth the three-hour wait!

How does music move you?

Music is everything to me. Music is universal and a form of expression. From having those bad days and hearing your hype song- your mood changes and the day gets better, getting ready to start your day, to pump you up to tackle the workday, to building community with friends. Music to me has been healing, motivating (running marathons, like I do, your playlist has to be fire!), and has created lasting memories with my friends. Music is an outlet and allows expression and every morning before I start my routine- I start the day off with hype music to handle the day.

Interested in joining our Music Forward team and empowering the next generation of diverse music industry leaders? Visit our Careers page for current available roles and opportunities

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