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Nicole Homerin

Nicole Homerin (Choir Years: 2003-05)

Uniting Voices alumni have a special appreciation of the value of youth mentorship, especially Nicole Homerin. Currently based in Los Angeles where she works as an Inclusion Communities Manager for Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Nicole is a passionate advocate and mentor for disabled youth. She is the 2023 recipient of the Steve Bartlett Award, and later this year, she will be presented with the 2023 Trailblazer Award from the Boston University Wheelock School of Education for her work in disability advocacy and anti-ableist education.

In October, Nicole will return to Chicago to run the marathon—and her route will take her past the Cultural Center where she rehearsed with Concert Choir from 2003-05!

We caught up with Nicole to talk about her recent accomplishments, her upcoming Marathon performance, and her most treasured Uniting Voices memories.

Uniting Voices: What years/location did you participate in Uniting Voices Programs?

Nicole Homerin: I was a member of Concert Choir (now called Voice of Chicago) at the Chicago Cultural Center from 2003-05.

UV: What was your favorite song (or songs) you learned in the program?

NH: So many favorites! My staple repertoire favorite was "Bridge Over Troubled Water." My favorite major work was learning Duruflé’s Requiem, Op. 9, as this was the first major piece I learned, memorized and performed.

UV: What non-performance memory sticks with you most clearly from your Uniting Voices experience?

NH: Rehearsals at Symphony Hall for Welcome Yule were so much fun! I remember being so excited to be in such a massive and beautiful space that I had attended so many performances with my family. I also fondly remember my first Singathon! The discipline and focus needed to rehearse all day and then perform at night definitely prepared me for marathon training!

UV: How did your time in Uniting Voices influence you as someone in youth mentorship?

NH: My time in the choir taught me to build confidence in my strengths. I was very shy and not the strongest singer, but worked very hard to learn and memorize the music. My experience taught me that we are stronger as a collective, melding all of our strengths together and relying on the help of others to improve on our areas for growth. My experience also taught me that our individual voices do have the power to make change.

I started off in the choir barely talking and eventually gained confidence to make friends and not be afraid to use my voice, whether that be in choir or advocating for social justice. My time in choir also laid the foundation for my work in youth advocacy and social justice, as I use what I learned early on in choir to discuss intersectional identities and social justice issues related to youth disability inclusion.

Most notably, the people in the choir influenced my life forever. As someone who now works in youth mentorship, the statistic that one trusted adult can have a lasting impact on youth outcomes really solidifies the impact of the choir on my life. I am so grateful for the adults who shaped my childhood experiences and absolutely believe I would not be working in youth mentorship today if not for my experiences in choir. So thank you to Josephine, Judy, John, Cece, Christina and every adult mentor who impacted my young life.

UV: What values did your time in the choir teach you?

NH: My time in the choir instilled the value of hard work. It also taught me the value of collaboration, as we created magical musical moments when we all worked together. In addition, the choir taught me the value of celebrating diversity and the beauty of each of our unique voices in making the final product a work of art. Finally, the choir taught me courage. The courage to try new things, to make mistakes, and to step outside of my comfort zone.

UV: What is something you'd like your fellow alumni to know about?

NH: Wherever your path in life led you after choir, know that you had a lasting imprint on the life of others around you. Your voice matters. You matter. And don't ever be afraid to pivot, take chances. My career has seen many twists and turns over the years, but I have always trusted in knowing that if I follow my heart and my values, I will find my home. And if you're ever unsure, reach out to a CCC alum. We are always here to be each other's cheerleaders....we need you to survive!

UV: What are you listening to these days?

NH: I am always listening to Broadway tunes! From classic shows to the new works, I am a musical theater lover! The SIX soundtrack really makes for an upbeat run playlist.

UV: Anything else you'd like to share?

NH: I'm running the Chicago Marathon on October 8th as a member of Team Ronald McDonald House Charities. If anyone is in Chicago and wants to come cheer (or sing some Uniting Voicesclassics on the route), I could always use the support. Special thanks to the choir Alum who sent me an old CCC pin to wear on my race bib! I am emotionally preparing myself to run past the Chicago Cultural Center and feel the chills I used to feel every time I stepped into rehearsal, surrounded by such talented and loving humans.