Alumni Spotlight: Jaki Nelson '12

We chatted with Jaki Nelson '12 about what she has been up to since graduation and her booming music and acting career!
Where have you been and what have you been doing since graduation?
I have been living in Los Angeles, and I’ve been pursuing my music and acting career! I also teach singing, songwriting, recording, piano, and music theory at Pop Music Studios in Northridge. It’s so nice. I love it.

Speak of your college/university experience. How was it?
For the time being, I have decided not to pursue that avenue. Instead, I went to work for a music school, and after a series of promotions, I eventually came to run, which later merged with Pop Music Studios.

What about your SC experience? Are there any courses, extracurricular activities, or teachers that greatly impacted you?
I am very proud to have come from Sierra Canyon. The education I received there has proven invaluable. Eric Schrode’s English class was the pinnacle of that learning curve. I loved his class. I loved the way he would speak about whatever we were working on, even if I didn’t particularly admire that book/essay/song. Don’t get me wrong: It was hard. I cried a lot. I didn’t sleep much. Teachers were worried about me. But through that class, I learned just how hard I can push myself, and exactly when it’s time to take a nap. Many of the people I have worked with as an adult have marveled at my ability to power through 6-10 hour sessions without noticing. Thanks, man!

Have the relationships you created at SC with classmates and others continued? Is keeping in touch with classmates important to you?
I have kept in touch with people. Some of them are still some of my best friends. Keeping in touch with your classmates at SC is very important. At the risk of sounding like a mom, you never know where these people are going to go, and I promise you, some of them will surprise you. SC isn’t your average high school.

You have chosen music and acting as a career. How is that going? Where do you see yourself in a few years or in the future in general?
Music and acting is great. I’m leading a dramatic feature film, “Absolution”, that will be coming out next year. More recently, the music has been taking off. My song “Uh Oh” has been sitting on the Billboard Dance Chart for 12 weeks and just hit Top 10! I’ve started working closely with labels that I had only dreamed would maybe someday take a listen. I’m being asked to write for top 40 pop acts. It’s insane. In the next few years, I’d like to have a hit radio track or two, go on a couple tours, sharpen my writing chops, and become a go-to hit songwriter, so I can stay in LA and act and do whatever else I grow into.
What advice do you have for current SC students, especially seniors?
Start learning how to adult now, while your parents are still nearby. Facetiming them in April after your 18th birthday to ask how in the world taxes work when they live across the country and they’ve got their own to do is not the best plan. Also, start working on that in February. You’d be amazed how many reasons the government can find to not accept your money.    
Also, start learning about investments now. The difference between investing in a Roth IRA at 18 and at 28 is the difference between hundreds of thousands of retirement dollars. If you go to Sierra Canyon, it’s a safe assumption that your parents know a little something about that stuff. ASK. They’ll love you for it.
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Middle and Upper School: 20801 Rinaldi Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311  | 818.882.8121
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.