Name: Corey DePina
Title: Youth Development and Performance Manager
Genre: Hip Hop
Years in the Field: 17
What do you do at Zumix?
I plan and run creative writing and performance programs for teens. I also teach literature through creative writing for the 9th grade class at East Boston High School. I manage, support, and train ZUMIX performance instructors to be their best, so that they can offer the best learning experience for their students.
Why do you do what you do?
I feel like this is my calling. Through my love of hip hop, I was able to learn how to read and write. I help empower so many others though understanding their voice and expressing themselves.
What comes easiest to you in this work?
Taking a boring subject or topic and finding a fun, engaging, and exciting way to introduce it to students.
What challenges you in this work?
Not being paid enough. I wonder if we will have donors and the money to keep doing this work in the future. I also find it a challenge to continue to prove to the academic world that my spiritual and artistic approach is important, and in a lot of cases, is what’s missing.
What does it mean to your community that you do this work?
It means the world to me and to my community for everyone to have access to arts and education. In a city where our public schools have no music programs and youth are told to memorize facts like computer programming, it means so much to provide a creative outlet for expression – one that incorporates critical thinking, reflection and growth along with theory and practice.
How do you blow off steam?
Going on long drives. Getting lost, either physically or with the paper, pen and a hip hop track.
What do you create in your free time?
In my free time I like to evolve my curriculum and create unique, fun approaches to writing and music making.
Whose work in the CYD field do you admire and why?
My homie, Eric Booth, and my big homie, Mo Barbosa. Eric is wicked smart and has a way with words. He takes this profession and validates it. Mo is super thoughtful and smart in his approach in youth work. It’s comforting every time to talk to these guys about the work. They are so confident in the field and it rubs off.
What music do you like to listen to (if even a little too loudly)?
No shame, I have been feeling the new Bruno Mars track 24KRT. I think I like it, because it’s pretty funky, and I’m sure I can bust like 95% of the dance moves I have to it.
Seen any good movies lately?
Movies, no. But that Netflix though… Black Mirror…
What are you currently reading?
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, by Beverly Daniel Tatum.
I want to write my own book and tell my story about how hip hop helped this young man go from being illiterate to becoming one of the best educators this city has.