Every Second Counts
Driven by what he describes as a ridiculous work ethic, Rocko Hale is embracing 18 credits at Minneapolis College in pursuit of an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in music. His long-term goal is to obtain a law degree focusing on medical malpractice so he can impact positive change in the industry.
In his spare time, when he’s not working around Minneapolis as an AV tech for local, national, and international events, Rocko Hale can be heard as part of the College’s Jazz Ensemble where he feels connected to his student colleagues and the music.
Only a few months ago, things were vastly different. Hale was in the midst of both health and housing crisis.’ He found himself navigating a health care system that was stacked against him and homeless, for a time sleeping in a porta potty. Loring Park became his sanctuary with its large greenspace, lake, gardens, and urban wildlife. It was there he began the process of self-discovery, recognized he’s a survivor, and embraced the idea that he could change the direction of his life.
Minneapolis College was part of Hale’s landscape due to its close proximity to his Loring Park refuge so it was a natural next step. Hale graduated from a local recording arts high school, however, he never thought he was particularly smart. “Minneapolis College changed everything and I bounced back,” said Hale who is on a positive trajectory. “I discovered I not only love learning, but I’m good at it.”
“Minneapolis College is an incredibly supportive, safe, and practical environment where cool people walk alongside you to help you move through your academic experience with ease,” said Hale who relies on his perseverance and drive to do well. “I’m a survivor. I’m a tank. If you work for it, you’ll be rewarded.”
And Hale isn’t alone at the College, his mother and sister are two of his student colleagues, both building on their own skills and talents to expand their career opportunities. He is honored to assist his mother with her studies and takes pride in her success.
A Connection to Music
Music has always been part of Hale’s life so when the opportunity surfaced to join the College’s Jazz Ensemble, he jumped in. “Keyboard and percussion are my main instruments, however, I started learning the vibraphone and I love it,” said Hale who also shares his tech skills to support the performance work of the group. “Recently, I started playing with the Latin Music Ensemble where I’m expanding the breadth of my talents and interests. Both groups offer a welcoming and encouraging environment where students can pursue their musical passions. I’m hoping to incorporate marimba in the next concert!”
Hale always makes time to help people in need, serving as an example for others. “I know how life can throw unexpected challenges your way. I’ve been there,” said Hale who wants people to know it’s difficult, yet possible to climb out of homelessness, achieve academic success, and discover the magic when things finally click.
When asked what’s important, Hale replies, “Always be humble, find what grounds you, and keep things in perspective.”
Students who are interested in joining the Jazz Ensemble or the Latin Music Ensemble can contact Joel Sundseth. The Jazz Ensemble meets on Tuesday nights from 6 – 8:20 p.m. in F.2700 and the Latin Music Ensemble meets Thursday nights from 6 - 8:20 p.m. in H.1002.
For more information about upcoming music events at Minneapolis College, visit the College Calendar.