A nervous freshman who just graduated from Loara High School in Anaheim, Majesca Wong attended her very first class at California State University, Northridge in fall 2014.
At the end of the class, she felt overwhelmed by the extensive coursework outlined in the requirements for her major, music therapy.
Wong recently discovered her interest in music therapy in 2014 and wondered if she chose the right path. In addition to the rigorous curriculum, CSUN’s music therapy students are required to sing, play piano and strum a guitar.
“I didn’t do any of that when I came in,” Wong said. “I just played the French horn, so I had to learn how to play the piano and the guitar and how to use my voice well. I just remember thinking, ‘I can’t do this. This is too much and it seems so hard.’”
Just one year later, the passionate musician has become a role model in her field, recognized by her professors for her outstanding work. Wong is serving as president of the Student Music Therapy Club, she works at Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach and volunteers at Parthenia Elementary School in North Hills. She also has carved out time to play the French horn in CSUN’s Wind Ensemble.
“Majesca is always doing all the little extra things that add up to an excellent student, role model, future musician and therapist,” said Ric Alviso, chair of the music department. “The quality of her work and involvement in the program is very high.”
A lifelong music lover, Wong has been playing the French horn since high school. She didn’t want to pursue performance as a career, she said, leaning toward special education because of her love for children. It was her band director in high school who recognized her musical talent and introduced her to music therapy as a way to combine music with working with disabled children.
“I feel like I relate to kids really well,” Wong said. “They are the epitome of innocence, and I want to help them reach their full potential.”
To fulfill her first field work requirement for her major, Wong worked with a choir for people with developmental disabilities. She said the experience boosted her motivation to become a music therapist and eliminated her doubts.
“It was my favorite part of the week,” Wong said. “It was the best thing ever, and I realized this is where I needed to be.”
In July, Wong participated in the American Music Therapy Association’s national conference, “Music Therapy Research 2025: A Student’s Perspective,” in Kansas City, Missouri. Barbara Else, one of the conference organizers, previously presented a guest lecture on the psychology of music in Wong’s class at CSUN. Wong said she was instantly inspired by Else’s work.
“I emailed her and said I am interested in research and asked, ‘How can I be involved and help?’” Wong said. “She suggested that we make a poster about where students see music therapy research in the year 2025. So, my whole class got together, and we all contributed to this poster.”
Wong presented the poster in front of more than 40 professional music therapists, researchers, students and interns at the conference.
“I was so nervous, but it was a lot of fun and definitely a good experience,” she said. “If I have one goal for myself, it would be to keep learning. I always want to keep learning, for the rest of my life.”
Music professor and CSUN Music Therapy Wellness Clinic director Ronald Borczon said Wong has been very engaged in connecting the classroom with real-life professionals.
“[Wong] has shown wonderful leadership skills, working closely with myself in bringing music therapists to CSUN for workshops,” he said.
Wong is slated to graduate from the two-year music therapy program in spring 2016. After graduation, she plans to work in a six-month music therapy internship, helping people in the process of discovering and reaching their full potential through music therapy.
“Her desire to help people with their various issues in life is a gift to all those she serves,” Borczon said.
Alviso echoed those sentiments.
“We need people like Majesca going into the field of music therapy,” he said. “She has that wonderful mix of being an excellent musician, as well as having her heart in the right place.”