Alumna Spotlight: Michel Vasquez

performance hall view from stage
College of Music & Performing Arts

Alumna Spotlight: Michel Vasquez

January 22, 2024 | by Haley Charlton

finder-michel-vasquez.jpgAs a student, Michel Vasquez (‘22) was highly engaged in all that Belmont had to offer – from sorority meetings to the Belmont Dance Company, to leading girls through Delight Ministries and incoming freshmen through Towering Traditions. Today, as a professional performer with her B.F.A. in musical theatre and minor in dance, Michel is highly engaged with all that the world of the performing arts has to offer.  

Currently living in Europe, Michel is on the international tour of “West Side Story” as Rosalia, Maria understudy and the “Somewhere” soloist.   

Having performed in theaters across the country, some of Michel’s favorite credits include Hope in “Urinetown,” Cinderella in “Into the Woods,” Aquata in “The Little Mermaid” and Gladys in “42nd Street.” She has also lent her voice to video games, choral music demos, concept albums, holiday specials, Nashville Children’s Theatre and the Late Late Show Dublin.  

Below, Michel reflects on her time at Belmont and how it prepared her for her career today.  

What Sets Belmont Apart? 

Michel on stageTHE PEOPLE! I’ll say it ‘til I die. Belmont is full of the kindest, most authentic and supportive individuals who celebrate you in the highs and comfort you in the lows. It’s a special, special place.  

The Musical Theatre program specifically celebrates individualism, rather than cookie-cutter performers, and I think this is what sets them apart. They don’t fit you into a mold, they mold you into the human and performer that you are meant to be. The faculty truly care about your well-being, your growth and your journey.  

Being in Nashville allows for so many outside opportunities and connections that one would not get elsewhere. Regional theaters, recording opportunities, TV gigs and general music appreciation are just a few of the bonuses. Belmont is the reason I feel equipped to do what I do. I am extremely grateful to the school, my faculty and my classmates for so heavily investing in me and shaping me into who I am today. 

Was there a mentor who shaped your time at Belmont?  

My voice instructor, Erica Aubrey, built my voice from the ground up. There were many nights in practice rooms that ended in tears, but she was just one text or phone call away, reminding me of my worth and my potential. She pushed me to work harder: to try, fail and try again. She believed in me more than I believed in myself. And most days, her belief in me kept me going. That little spark of hope spurred me on the days when I thought to myself, “I’ll never be good enough.” I surely wouldn't be where I am without her.  

Michel on tourWhat advice would you give students?  

Each person has a unique set of qualities that sets them apart, and that’s what’s going to get you where you need to be. Never discount yours.  

I came into school thinking I was less than because I couldn't sing like some of my classmates, didn't have the experience that they did, etc. I dealt with a lot of performance anxiety and comparison because of what I believed (or didn’t believe) about myself and my abilities.  

Slowly, through the breaking down of those fears and a lot of hard work, I began to realize that I was unique. I wasn’t my colleague and yet, she wasn’t me. I started to believe that what I had to offer was special and that began to change everything. What’s meant to be yours, will be yours.  

What were you involved in as a student? 

I was involved in Delight Ministries, Towering Traditions, Belmont Dance Company and Kappa Alpha Theta, which all hugely shaped my Belmont experience. 

My faith is the foundation of my life and the reason I can stay grounded in this ever-fluctuating career. It was extremely important that I had a place to show up weekly that kept me accountable for that foundation. Delight was that welcoming, safe space where I wrestled with feelings, emotions and big life questions, all surrounded by women who cheered me on and would drop anything for me in a moment of need.  

Michel on tourThe Belmont Dance Company is the avenue that allowed me to grow in multiple styles of dance. I was inspired daily by the incredible dancers around me. The faculty, specifically Debbie Belue and Maggie Pelton, are my role models to this day. Their genuine care and investment in me, my growth and my success shaped me into the dancer I am today. 

Belmont sororities really break the mold. Kappa Alpha Theta challenged me to be a confident, unique and authentic human being, stretching me in ways I never saw coming. It was truly a sisterhood like no other where I made some of the most incredible and forever life-changing friendships.  

Favorite Belmont Memories? 

The opening night of “Urinetown,” the fall musical my senior year, was a moment I will never forget. It was the first time we were able to have a live audience since the COVID-19 shutdown, and the applause after our first big musical number was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We held the button of that number for longer than I can remember. My eyes filled with tears, and as they flowed down my cheeks, I started laughing out of pure gratitude and humbleness to be there in that moment. It was surreal. 

Michel on late night showAlso, on the last night of TT my senior year, the leaders hold candles while the new students walk around the bell tower. It’s extremely full circle as it’s something every new student does on arrival. As a senior, you stand there reflecting on your time at Belmont and all your memories — it’s as if you’re passing on the torch to the new students and thanking Belmont for everything it has given you.  

I remember tears flowing down my cheeks as I watched my students pass by me with the biggest smiles on their faces. It brought me so much joy to watch them enter this new phase of their life while reflecting on how they had been the best years of mine.