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Life After Mid-Pen: Elina Smith-Leitch '15

“If you are passionate enough about it you should pursue it."

-Elina Smith-Leitch '15 

Music has always been an important part of Elina’s life. She pushed her passion aside, believing she couldn't pursue it in college.

After graduating from Mid-Pen, Elina deferred her admissions at Willamette University in Oregon and took a gap year. “I knew that I wanted to go to college but I was burned out from high school and needed a break,” she said “I started working at this pet hotel, which was really fun because I love animals. And I did a lot of traveling for six months.”

Elina loved pets, so she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian and majored in biology. When she finally started at Willamette, she realized she didn’t enjoy science or math and the thought of taking those classes for a pre-vet program was daunting. A post-graduate veterinary program would have been even worse, she said.

“The only thing that brought me happiness was when I was in the music program,” said Elina. So she pivoted and enrolled in more music classes, which in turn, brought her joy. Elina made the decision to leave Willamette and enroll in community college classes at Foothill and De Anza.

“De Anza has a great music program,” she said, “and I learned what you could do with music...there's such a wide variety of what you can do.”

Elina later applied and was admitted to the University of San Francisco to study performing arts; she’ll graduate in May 2020.

“I’m very happy that I’m in a place in my life where I get to study what I want and be surrounded by people who are just as passionate about the same things as I am.”

Throughout her process, Elina learned it was not only okay but normal to change her direction in college. “It’s much more common than you think it is...it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s normal to question what you want to do.” 

 Elina Smith-Leitch ‘15 participated in Mid-Pen's virtual roundtable, Alternative Paths: Life after Mid-Pen, on Thursday, April 23, 2020.