31 Days of APIDAs: Guillan “Gee” Leonardo

In honor of May being Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Pacific Ties and Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) are teaming up to featuring Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Bruins. We’ll be posting one interview per day. 

Guillan “Gee” Leonardo is a fourth year music history major who just finished her senior thesis film about music venues in Westwood. She plays trumpet in the UCLA marching band and has been involved with UCLA Radio, Mindful Music, and Kappa Kappa Psi (Marching Band Service Fraternity).

How do you identify?

I identify as a first-generation Pilipinx-American. Too many of my experiences have involved the best and the worst of both worlds, and I am blessed to be able to live this unique life.

How has being an Asian American women influence your college experiences, the way you live, and how you view the world?

There is a certain discrepancy between how I see the world and how the world sees me. However, I do not let these existing stereotypes about Asian women influence any of my actions or mannerisms; in fact, I endeavor to be known as someone who is truly passionate about my work. This give me the courage and the drive to do whatever it takes to reach my goals.

Why did you change your major from neuroscience to music history during the fall quarter of your junior year? And what challenges have you faced by doing so?

I discovered a lot of things about myself the hard way. I learned my thinking style, my passions, and my weaknesses, but this journey of discovery has made me a much stronger and self-aware person. In my science classes, my mind always wandered back to music–how I could create it and how I could share my love for it– and eventually, my academic performance started faltering simply because I wasn’t passionate about what I was studying. It took major self-reflection and the support of my closest loved ones to work up the courage to start anew, and I am so much happier because I was brave enough to realize that I was unhappy, and that I was willing to change in order to pursue something I love.

In your thesis video “a quiet village”, you recount why there is a lack of music venues in Westwood and why Westwood should have them. What motivated you to investigate this what are you currently doing to improve the situation?

After my first rock concert, I absolutely fell in love with the experience of live music. This led me to frequent many venues in Los Angeles, and I slowly started realizing that there were no places in Westwood that allowed for this musical expression. Additionally, I helped with the creation of Mindful Music, a Semel Institute and UCLA music program that integrates live music into communities to promote wellbeing. This placement of live music on campus served to highlight the stark absence of music performance spaces in Westwood.

I am actively working on a campaign to raise awareness about Westwood’s need for a music venue through my work in my Senior Capstone Project as well as through consultations with a wide variety of industry experts about the technicality and the logistics of making this dream happen.

What are your plans after graduating?

“Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Check out Asian Pacific Coalition’s new website!

 

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