Creating a Room Full of Love: Alumna Luz Juliana Marquez

This is a guest post by ZUMIX alumna Luz Juliana Marquez, currently a student at UMass Amherst. 

Even on my worst days, I still smile ‘cause a room full of people love me. 

That’s a line from my song, “The Room,” which I wrote this summer to celebrate my graduation from high school and thank the people who helped me along the way. I performed the song at ZUMIX senior graduation because I wanted everyone to know: ZUMIX is my room. This place has nurtured me for more than 10 years, and we need your help to keep nurturing young people.

I was shy when I first got involved at ZUMIX – playing clarinet, then taking guitar classes with Leo Colon. He invited me to join a band called the Zukix, and I’ve been part of it ever since. I’ve lived all over Boston and gone to many different schools, but the Zukix, and ZUMIX, have been consistent in my life. I wanted to thank everyone for the love and support, so I wrote “The Room.”

Even on my sad days, I reach out ‘cause a room full of people love me.

My senior year had a lot of ups and downs, including intense schoolwork and my grandfather’s passing. I had a hard time with that. In March 2023, I had the chance to perform with Kadahj Bennett and other ZUMIX folks at Boston Center for the Arts, and that was the first time I could talk about my grandfather’s death without breaking down. It was so important for me to have that supportive, artistic space.

Even when I’m so scared, I sing loud ‘cause a room full of people love me.

I threw myself into ZUMIX classes this spring and summer – this was my last year, so I wanted to go for it! I showed some of my lyrics to Corey DePina and he encouraged me to try Streetwise, a songwriting program at ZUMIX. It was so motivating, and I ended up loving it. During Streetwise, we produced a music video of my song, “Let It Go,” and I loved how collaborative and joyful the process was.

Even when I overthink, I’m never left out ‘cause a room full of people love me.

When I see the young musicians in the Zukix now, I think: They’re incredible. Everyone is dedicated, and everyone’s contribution matters. ZUMIX helped teach me that, and many other things. I’ve learned so much and built so many relationships and memories. I wouldn’t be where I am today without ZUMIX.

This fall, I started college at UMass Amherst, studying psychology and beginning a new adventure. But I’m determined to stay connected to ZUMIX–my room, and my roots. I’m so grateful to know I’ll always be a part of the ZUMIX family.

Your gifts will allow ZUMIX to continue to provide a room full of people that love me and so many other students. Thank you for being a part of such a loving, supportive community.