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Remember to Find Your van Gogh

By Lucianna Astorga ’19

There’s a particularly poignant quote I read recently which says, “We get to decide who it is we allow to influence us… I chose van Gogh.

This quote illuminates the fact that we as individuals have the seemingly easy, but actually rather complex ability to construct our being both externally and internally. For the last two years I’ve been finding my van Gogh, my Matisse, my Kahlo, and my O’Keefe.

Since graduating from Menaul School and starting to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Music as a Vocal Performance major at Sam Houston, I have evolved and grown but also had to pivot and just put my head down and do the dirty work.

It has been rewarding to do what I am most passionate about and to see that no matter how hard it kicks my butt, there’s always respite to be found.

There are so many days that are difficult and challenging, which I’m sure is more than relatable as we continue to feel the impact of a pandemic and major social movements. But there are also big wins and joy; this semester has shown me that.

So many of the things that I am working on or even struggling with are right now are the same things that I only dreamed could happen a few years ago—and they did!

This year I got my first role in an opera at my university, I was selected to be part of the top choral group on campus. I get to work on a recital. I am part of several competitions. I am collaborating with Dance majors and have created a really cool work where I get to feature my singing. I am learning so much about singing, and I am making strides to be the best version of myself that I can be.

I’ve discovered new things about how to be healthy and begin to make choices that have my body, future, and the world in mind. Which obviously means eating great food, and making sure that I keep my body moving as close to nature as I can get. (Have you ever tried fireweed jelly from Alaska? If not, get on that immediately.)

I’ve met absolute icons, mostly my peers and mentors who continue to push and inspire me. Also Renee Fleming—I mean, come on, what a dream! Beyond individual experiences I’ve been been lucky to find a team that creates a brilliant and beautifully uplifting energetic vibe in my life.

Renee Fleming, Opera Singer (L) and Luci Astorga (R)

A Bit of Advice

I’ve experienced so much living in the past two years! The only way to sum it up and offer as much as possible, is to try and sound like some sort of modern pseudo-philosopher. So take what you will and leave what you think is abstract.

I think that when we graduate or have any other significant life change, we feel like we are fully equipped. Though we move to our next phase with hammers, nails, and functional handiwork, we may forget that we will remain in a constant state of construction.

I’ve come to realize that if we think of life as building a home, that we have to be okay with our blueprint changing. Plans get disrupted by a broken waterlines, falling in love with a space just as it is after envisioning something else, or deciding you never wanted a house to begin with, and starting work on a cottage.

All things that we experience are part of our growth, especially the time we spend on the ground, and are so important to embrace. It’s essential to know that even though things aren’t always glowingly brilliant, that you’re never alone—it’s statistically impossible.

Just remember to find your van Gogh and eat good food in the meantime.

What Comes Next

I’m so happy that I get to share the latest from my life and would be so happy to have you tune in online for these upcoming events. Live video links can be found the day of each event on Facebook from Sam Houston School of Music’s page.

Sam Houston Chorale Concert: October 11th at 7:30

Viardot’s Cendrillon Opera Performance: November 19th-21st

A BIG thank you to Luci Astorga for this inspirational update! For more stories, visit Menaul School Stories. Are you a Menaul grad? We would love to feature your story next. Send a note at NSoriano@menaulschool to get started.


  1. 1
    Oscar Cheng Guajardo on September 27, 2021

    So nice to hear from you my lovely Luciana!! Keep doing what you really like and you will be great in your successful career. As always, a big, big hug.

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