|Dennis Velasquez, right.|
This week we focus on Dennis Velasquez, a graduate of Roosevelt who will begin at the Art Institute of Washington, DC, on Sept. 30.
OK, he may not be quite as famous or making Dr. Pepper commercials, but Velasquez knows how to use a mixboard and knows what he wants.
"I'm excited to start my career as a producer," he said.
That journey starts with college. And Velasquez will begin at the Art Institute of Washington, DC, in Arlington late this month.
Velasquez didn't learn how to mix beats in DC SCORES. For that, he credits his older brother DJ Maniako — who is popular on the radio and at clubs in the District — and his jazz band experience that began at MacFarland Middle School.
But Velasquez is quick to recognize the role DC SCORES did play in his life while at MacFarland.
"DC SCORES was important for me because it helped me stay focused," Velasquez said. "(Soccer) coaches told me I had to do good in school to be on the team."
Velasquez loved playing on the Crusaders team and the Friday game days. He didn't want to jeopordize his chance to play by falling behind in school.
Around that time, Velasquez also developed his passion for music and began playing the bass guitar.
"I was all interested in music," he said. "Making beats, making singular vocal chords and everything; that just got me into it."
Six years later, Velasquez received an envelope in the mail. Thanks to the focus provided by DC SCORES and his passion for music, he had been accepted into college. His Mom started crying while her son immediately started thinking about his next step toward that Dr. Dre-like career.
"I was kind of surprised," Velasquez said. "It was a good feeling, excited, like I’m finally going. ... I’m very excited. I can’t wait to get working on the mixed board."
If and when Velasquez makes it big, he won't forget his roots. As he prepares for late September, he continues to play soccer in weekly pick-up games with his younger brother and friends at Bancroft Elementary School. He also was a Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) counselor at DC SCORES summer camps the past two years and plans to stay involved with the older youth program and mentoring summer camp participants.
In fact, Velasquez's favorite DC SCORES memory is from his time as a camp counselor.
"The rest of the counselors and I were throwing water balloons and the kids got us really wet with a huge bucket of water," Velasquez said. "It was really fun!
"They got me real good."
There's no doubt we'll be seeing more of Velasquez soon — both on the radio and providing a role model for youth in need of the focus DC SCORES provided him.
DC SCORES taught Velasquez to be "friendly, respectful and sportsmanship ... I actually told (campers) the exact same thing — that you have to be respectful.
"Because that helped me to get where I’m at."