University of New Mexico senior Cyanne Garcia is graduating in the fall 2020 semester with a degree in music education and will continue to radiate kindness and a love for music for the rest of her lifetime.

As a first-generation college student, Garcia is especially proud that she was financially independent in school.

“So much has changed from my first year of college until now,” Garcia said. “That’s been a really nice journey; really hard sometimes, but really necessary.”

Garcia balanced odd hours as a desk attendant with UNM’s student housing program but always found a way to remain diligent in school. She said she’s grateful for the job since the unusually timed, yet flexible shifts helped her prioritize her classes and link her to UNM more personally.

“I feel more connected to UNM because of that job,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s passion for music and songwriting blossomed when she began attending Hummingbird Music Camp in Jemez Springs, New Mexico at 10 years old. She said that was where she fell in love with music, playing guitar and composing, and she later went on to become a counselor at the camp, which sparked a new love for music education.

Garcia initially majored in music performance at UNM but wanted to expand her horizons, eventually switching to music education.

“I started writing music when I was 12, and it probably wasn’t the best,” Garcia said with a chuckle. “But I’ve been (composing) for a really long time.”

Garcia detailed her experiences as a musician during her year abroad, when she went to England and completed a full songwriting program at the University of Hertfordshire.

Paula Corbin-Swalin, Garcia’s voice teacher, said it’s typical for students to want different things after they return from studying abroad, but Garcia “had an even deeper sense of what she wanted to do” when she returned.

Swalin talked about the challenge that Garcia faced in preparation for her senior recital, which was set to happen during the coronavirus pandemic. With plans for a traditional performance upended, she had to rehearse and perform her recital virtually.

“Song by song, she recorded everything and did an amazingly beautiful job,” Swalin said.

Swalin said that she performed remarkably with difficult repertoire, especially considering the unforeseen circumstances she had to deal with.

“Her progression from that freshman that came into my studio that first year to where she’s headed now ... has been a joy,” Swalin said.

Garcia’s music isn’t the only thing that stands out about her. Her close friend Chris King  testified to her kind soul and hard-working attitude.

“Being her friend has really taught me how to sit with somebody and talk to them about what they’re dealing with,” King said.

Swalin said Garcia is “incredibly intelligent” and has a gentle and joyous spirit that translates into her music. Swalin said Garcia’s authenticity makes her stand out as a performer who audiences can trust.

Both King and Swalin said it’s clear that Garcia cares deeply about what she does and that she always wants to ensure she’s improving and doing her best.

“(Garcia) will be able to go into the classroom and really make a difference with music,” Swalin said.

Sarah Bodkin is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @sarahbodkin4