How a teacher’s encouragement helped shape a career path

How a teacher’s encouragement helped shape a career path

You never know the impact your actions and words can have on shaping a person’s future career. For Jenelle Magtibay, it was the nurture and encouragement of her Year 11 and 12 music teacher that led her to enrol in Excelsia College’s Bachelor of Music. The 21-year-old, who completed her course this year, chose to major in music performance, with voice as her primary instrument and piano and bass guitar as her supporting instruments. Jenelle is putting her training to good use and currently working as a music teacher at Real Rhythm Studio in Fairfield, Ignite Music in Dural and a private tutor at her own business, Jenelle’s Singing School. Outside of Excelsia, Jenelle is also involved in her local church community where she serves on worship band.

Music has played an integral part of Jenelle’s life, particularly during her high school years when she developed her passion for vocals and R’n’B, contemporary and soul music. ‘I pursued music all my way through high school from Years 7 to 12 and then chose to do Music 1 for my HSC (Higher School Certificate) course. Since Year 9, I knew I wanted to pursue music in some way. I always had the dream to study music therapy, and it was my Music 1 music teacher who encouraged me to consider enrolling in a music course. She was very much like a mum to me, and she’d always guide me and take care of me and make sure that I was doing my work.’


After reaching the end of her Bachelor of Music course, Jenelle became unsure about pursuing music therapy, based on the audition component. ‘I could do the singing part but wasn’t sure about the instrumentation to accompany myself so I was asking God, “What else can I do?” I felt teaching was placed back into my heart; it’s something I also wanted to do as a kid.’ Jenelle was also encouraged by her teachers at Excelsia College who saw traits in her that could complement teaching. ‘My teachers Dr Lotte Latukefu and Elizabeth Blackwood would always say that I’m a natural leader and good at helping people, so I guess those skills of leading people, helping people and teaching were honed more during my time at Excelsia.’


Now studying her Masters of Secondary Education and Training, Jenelle hopes to become a high school music teacher, specifically educating Year 11 and 12 students. In this role, she hopes to show the same nurture and support she received from her teacher to the next generation of music students. ‘Although I don’t know what kind of teacher I will be until I start teaching in the classroom, I know the most important thing is to have a student and teacher relationship. I want students to come to me and to be able to engage in a positive way.’ The Bachelor of Music prepared Jenelle not only with performance skills but also how to communicate with and teach people with disability, as well as how to navigate students with behavioral issues.


As a committed Christian, Jenelle sees music as a vocation where she can daily demonstrate her faith. ‘Even without saying the word “God”, you can show your Christian faith through loving your students, through caring for them, and even discipline is a way to show you care and love them,’ she explains. It is Excelsia’s Christian values that attracted Jenelle to the College in the first place. ‘I went to a Catholic high school, but reaching the tertiary education stage of my life, I wanted to choose a Christian college. I felt a calling from God to go to the College rather than a secular university. I felt that faith in my classes. Even in class God was there. Post-class we’d talk to the teachers or mentors about life, church, or God if we were struggling. We had a music coordinator who would sit down and have a chat with us and ask us what God would want us to do or what God is teaching us this time. It was really nice to have chats like that.’


It was these conservations and her Christian faith that helped Jenelle to become confident in herself. ‘I learned important life lessons during my time at Excelsia, including sticking to who I know I am in God. This helped me to not sway from my beliefs and I learned that I didn’t need to please other people.’


When asked about how she would describe Excelsia, Jenelle calls it a ‘cosy, friendly, inviting and a close-knit community. ‘I would sit on the couch and say hi to people walking past as they were going to class. I spent every weekday at Excelsia, that’s how much I loved being there and hanging out with my friends, practising and jamming.’


Getting to know teaching staff and students from different faculties opened up opportunities for the music student, who helped to promote the College as student ambassador. Jenelle was also able to put her voice to good use for Excelsia’s 2020 musical Songs From a New World. Due to COVID-19, the College’s drama department decided to produce its very first virtual musical and Jenelle unexpectedly found herself front and centre! ‘My thought was that I was going to help the drama students by singing in it but then the director was like, no, you’re the lead! It was a good opportunity to learn from the drama department before leaving my degree,’ says Jenelle.


Excelsia College is delighted that Jenelle has been able to develop her inner confidence, flourish and continue to grow in her Christian faith. We can’t wait to hear where her voice takes her next! If you feel inspired by Jenelle’s story, why not explore Excelsia’s Bachelor of Music course?