Kaylin Tran/Courier KaitLynn Markley poses for a portrait at Pasadena City College on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
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The show is starting, the audience applauds. The stage is waiting for her. Shy and young KaitLynn Markley steps on the stage, starts playing the violin and completes Mariachi Monumental de America.

A broadcast journalism major at PCC, Markley found her inspiration through her love for public speaking. Her love for public speaking, in turn, came from her culture and life experiences.

Markley feels a strong connection with her Mexican culture when she performs with her mariachi band. The audience also plays a part in her connection to the culture, as they help her appreciate the music and meaning of each song. However, the main connection comes from within.

“I did and still do it all for my family, and especially for my grandma,” said Markley. “She loves mariachi music and always wanted me to play an instrument or be a performer like Linda Ronstadt or Lucero León.” 

Markley took violin lessons at Plaza de la Raza’s School of Performing and Visual Arts, where her grandmother met a mariachi who owned his own group. Her grandmother proceeded to introduce Markley to him when she was 11. That same mariachi, who is also the director in Mariachi Monumental de America, ended up giving her violin and voice lessons.

“I used to feel extremely anxious on stage and could barely get myself to look at anyone in the audience during performances, but now I love the rush of excitement I experience playing in front of people,” Markley said. She was considered a shy child, so performing in front of a large group of strangers was a struggle. 

Markley was able to get out of her comfort zone through performing for the mariachi and competing in pageants. She was introduced to modeling and pageantry at around the age of 15, where she modeled quinceañera dresses and eventually transitioned to print and runway work, which she still does. 

“Modeling quinceañera dresses was fun but could sometimes be a huge challenge for people who had never tried it before,” said Markley. “The dresses are traditionally ball gown style, and anyone that’s ever worn one knows that it takes a team just to put on.” 

The compliments and recognition on her speaking skills both on stage and during interviews made her realize her passion for hosting shows and public speaking. In addition to confidence in public speaking, the confidence she has to perform in front of a large audience made her who she is today.

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