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EPISD Student Spotlight: Daniel West, Transmountain Early College

Daniel West band

(TRANSMOUNTAIN EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL -- Jan 6, 2020) — TMECHS senior Daniel West’s passion for music keeps him motivated during the pandemic – an appropriate outlet for the guitarist known on campus for his band’s award-winning talent show performances. The senior, who will have both his associate’s degree and high-school diploma upon graduation, plans to attend the University of Texas at El Paso and pursue a career in film. Community Engagement virtually interviewed West for the next EPISD Student Spotlight. Here’s his take on remote learning and life after the pandemic.

DANIEL WEST: How are you staying motivated and involved in school during the pandemic?  

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENGT: The way that I stay motivated is to not think about the fact that we are going through school during the pandemic and try to think as if this is business as usual. I say this because I don’t want to blow this situation out of proportion, but rather accept that this is happening, and try to make the best of it, and to me that is trying to not think about it too much and try to go on as usual, not to say that it won’t come with its challenges.  

DW: What advice can you give to succeeding with remote learning? 

CE: The best advice that I can give based around remote learning is to divide your time according to how much work you have given on a certain day. I can say from experience that there are some days this semester where I did not divide my time properly, and I truly felt the effects of that. So, if I could give one piece of advice it would be to divide time properly.  

DW: Tell us about your passion for music and how it's helped you through the pandemic. 

CE: My passion for music started at a very young age. I was 5 years old when I got my first guitar, and from the second I got my guitar, it instantly grabbed me. I knew that this was a hobby that I wanted to pursue. Music has always been my guiding light, and my happy place, and it has especially helped this year during this pandemic. If I ever got stressed about anything happening, or just needed some time to reflect or whatever I needed to calm myself down, music was always there.  

DW: We hear you are a regular winner in the school's talent shows. Tell us about your first-prize winning acts. 

CE: Well, me and my band, Never Ending Flame, played at Transmountain Early College for about four years, and played multiple 80s songs that, to our surprise, ended up winning first place three times, and second place once.

DW: What are you doing to make the most of your senior year despite the pandemic? 

CE: The thing that I am trying to do is to keep regular contact with my peers, whether it be a Zoom call with them, or just a random text message. I do this because I want to make sure that I know that my peers are not only safe during this pandemic, but also want to make sure that they know that they have someone to talk if they ever need. I also do this because I want to talk to them before we don’t see each other anymore after high school, because we don’t know at this point if we will see each other before graduation.  

DW: What are your honors and achievements in high school?  

CE: I don’t want to gloat too much, but I have kept mostly A’s during my high school career, and received awards from some of my teachers, and won acts at our talent shows.  

DW: What advice would you give incoming freshman?  

CE: I would say to incoming freshman to manage time wisely, don’t put everything off to the last minute, because if you spread out your work accordingly, then you will see that you will have some free time. And take advantage of time off during lunch, or study halls, or those last few minutes at the end of class, because the more you get done ahead of time, the more time you will have to relax at home.  

DW: Where do you plan to go to college and what do you plan to study?  

CE: I am going to attend UTEP and I am going to study Digital Media Production, with the hope to get into the film industry, either as a cameraman or editor, or maybe both.  

DW: What is the first thing you plan to do when the pandemic is over?  

CE: My brother and I and my close friends plan on taking some road trips to make up for lost time, because we all have missed a birthday celebration, so we will probably go to see either a concert, or just drive and talk.  

DW: Anything you’d like to add?  

CE: I feel very humbled to be nominated to the Student Spotlight, and I appreciate taking this time to share my experiences and hope whoever is reading this to know that this will be over soon, and we will all see each other again, and to keep the hope that this vaccine can get to the public as soon as possible.  

Interview by Reneé de Santos