Sofia Lin, a fourth-year music student, does not let any obstacles get in her way of performing.

Lin grew up watching her dad play the violin, and her mom and cousins play the piano. 

She now plays both, and attributes her interest in music to her musical family.

Lin is already an accomplished performer, but it has not come easily. 

She has had to overcome hardships to get where she is today. 

“I have a disability. I have a speech and compression deficit that sometimes affects my communication with professors, classmates and roommates,” Lin said. “I often need people to talk more slowly or repeat what they said in order to fully understand them. Sometimes it’s hard.” 

Fourth-year music student Lin plays the violin in a Mariachi Ensemble performance. CHRISTINA MANUEL | THE POLY POST

Lin utilizes the DRC (Disability Resource Center) student center on campus.

Her disability has not stopped her toward her path with music.

“The biggest achievement for me is that I can play piano and violin at an advanced level,” she said.

Professor Nadia Shpachenko has known Lin for the past five years, as she taught her piano before Lin came to CPP.

“Sofia is a very sweet, earnest and hardworking young woman, possessing a great imagination and a strong drive to learn and to refine her skills,” Shpachenko said. 

“Sophia enjoys performing and delivers her best performance under pressure, while growing noticeably as a musician every week.

“She is one of the most hardworking students I know, overcoming great obstacles that her disability poses, thriving and succeeding in the endeavors she undertakes. Music is the driving force in her life through which she communicates her wonderful and rich inner world and imagination,” Shpachenko said.

Prevailing over her disability is not just about academics. Lin prides herself in accomplishments that sit outside the classroom as well.

“I feel proud that I learned how to drive, because before I thought driving was very dangerous and extremely hard, but now I can drive locally proficiently, and I am practicing driving on freeways every weekend,” Lin said. 

“I also feel proud of living independently in dorms, and learning how to handle many things myself without my parents’ help.” 

As a lover of music, Lin is inspired by genres such as pop and classical music. “I love Tchaikovsky. I particularly love his ‘1812 Overture’ and ‘The Nutcracker.’”

She is planning her musical path after college, and hopes to possibly continue a higher education.

“After college, I want to be a music teacher teaching both piano and violin. I also want to be a piano accompanist. I hope to go to CSUN (Cal State Northridge) to major in piano accompanist after I graduate from Cal Poly.”

Lin performing in a Mariachi Ensemble performance. CHRISTINA MANUEL |  THE POLY POST

Lin is a part of both the piano and mariachi ensembles. She has performed many acclaimed chamber works including Astor Piazzolla’s “The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” and Gabriel Faure’s “Piano Quintets” at the Montecito Music Festival.

Another professor who has worked closely with Lin during her courses is Professor Jessie Vallejo.

“She is fearless in learning new things,” Vallejo said. “Whereas some people might believe that people who are differently abled would not succeed in college, Sophia’s multiple successes prove those stereotypes wrong. She is an asset for our music program, for the piano program, and the mariachi ensembles. More importantly, Sophia is a great inspiration to everyone and an advocate for people who are differently abled.”

She has made an impact in the CPP music department during her time here.

“Music makes me happy and keeps me busy,” Lin said. “It will be my career, and influences me in all my life.” 

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