Sometimes people forget to tell you something really important because they assume you know.
I’ve had that happen a lot in newsroom from the person in the cubicle next to me or maybe from across the room. On a large campus, sometimes that happens, too.
I fortunately was recommended a student for a video I produced at FSU for a voiceover because I requested an international voice.
She did an amazing job and after she finished recording in the studio, she asked the radio director if his station plays student music albums. Oh, yes.
We glanced at her songs online and she had music videos. And she told us more. The biggest nugget among her talents was that she acted in a Disney Latino version of “High School Musical.”
Her name is Sofia Agüero Petros. She’s from Argentina and wanted to study abroad in the U.S. She found Frostburg State and she loves her semester spent here. This is her story:
Disney Latino “High School Musical” Actress Embraces American Experience at Frostburg State University
Frostburg State University exchange student Sofia Agüero Petros wanted to see how everyday Americans live.
The Argentinian eschewed the hubbub of schools in New York and Boston because life there wasn’t too different from Buenos Aires.
“Choose a small town because you can make a lot of friends easily and quickly,” is the advice she offered other exchange students. “You can know the real culture. When I went to New York and Chicago, it was not so different from Argentina, but here it’s so different.”
Besides, if Agüero Petros’ dreams come true, she’ll likely spend the rest of her life acting and singing in major cities anyway.
She has quite the head start compared to her peers. At 18 years old, she was a finalist on a reality competition show, “Disney High School Musical: La Selección (The Selection),” in Argentina. Disney Latino awarded her the role of Sofi, who in the American version is the band’s composer Kelsi Nielsen, played by Olesya Rulin.
That opportunity from 2007 to 2009 led her to star in “High School Musical: Sueños (Dreams)” and “High School Musical: El Desafío (The Challenge).” The soundtracks, released by Sony BMG, were a commercial success in Argentina with “Dreams” reaching No. 1 on the country’s weekly sales charts.
And yes, the fanaticism was just as fever-pitched in Argentina over “High School Musical,” as it was when Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens took America by storm. For three years, Agüero Petros and her co-stars would walk the streets being stopped by screaming, sobbing fans.
“At first it was like, ‘Oh wow! I can’t believe it; this was my dream!’” she said. “But at last, it became annoying because we could not go out anywhere.”
When her Disney commitment wrapped up, she concentrated on earning a degree. At her home institution, Blas Pascal University in Cordoba, Argentina, she’s studying audiovisual communications. Always wanting to come to America, she’s spending her final semester of college at FSU taking classes in advanced graphic design, advanced multimedia and voice and movement.
The 27-year-old is just as talented behind the scenes as she is in front of the camera, having designed her album cover for her debut six-song EP “Me Enseñaste” and produced slick-looking music videos for her songs.
She is also filming a music video at FSU for her song, “¿Donde Estas?” which is about her grandfather.
“When you start out, you don’t have anyone that can help you. You can do it yourself,” she said about combining her passions. “It helped me so much because I love to work professionally. Having this major, I could make all of these things professionally for my album.”
Agüero Petros is very involved on campus as part of the Social Marketing Team, FSU Dance Company, University Chorale and acapella group The Beltones.
“I always have to do a lot of things. Now I’m doing a lot of concerts and rehearsing. I think I’m not a restful person,” she said.
One of the reasons she chose FSU was that, while she could focus on her multimedia skills, she also had the chance to be involved in theatre and musicals, something that wasn’t possible at her home institution.
“I like the University Chorale. I sang once in a chorale but it was slow, and it was so relaxed,” she said. “This chorale is so professional. I’ve never been in a chorale like this.”
She also appreciates the diverse atmosphere at Frostburg and how anyone can pursue their dreams.
“Here, everyone is themselves,” she said. “They are who they are, and they don’t care. And that’s so cool because you don’t have to be someone.”
While she can live like a regular 20-something with relative anonymity here, she’s still working to further her career. She took advantage of Frostburg’s Mid-Atlantic location to travel to major cities to film video clips for Club Media Network in Argentina. She would show people back home where famous movie scenes were filmed, like a Chicago train station used for “Home Alone.”
The adventure of adjusting to a new culture here was eased, too, because her friend Maria Eliana Lopez Scarponi also decided to be an exchange student at FSU during the same semester.
“We are together all the time. It’s so good,” Agüero Petros said. “I feel like I’m at home.”
To achieve her dreams of starring in American roles, she worked on her English pronunciations and voice acting with FSU Associate Professor Nicole Mattis in the Department of Theatre & Dance.
Mattis describes Agüero Petros as a humble, honest and down-to-earth student who strives to become the best.
“Even though she’s had this successful career already in Argentina, she still wants to grow. She still wants to learn,” said Mattis. “She knows there are things she still wants to improve on. She has a wonderful sense of curiosity.”
Having international students in her voice and movement class “widens our perspective of the power of voice,” Mattis added.
“I think it forces students to deepen their understanding of voices as a way to communication and a way to express themselves, and to think about it culturally, too,” Mattis said. “The experience we have here in America might be very different in other countries.”
As her final exams and final performances will be out of the way, Agüero Petros plans to travel to New York City again to audition for roles and parts in hopes of landing a permanent job in music and entertainment in the U.S.
“I always wanted to live here,” Agüero Petros said. “It was my biggest dream.”
Agüero Petros found FSU through the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) at Blas Pascal University. Additionally, FSU offers assistance to South American and other international students through the FSU Center for International Education, whether students want to be part of a study abroad exchange program or earn a degree from FSU.
Victoria Gearhart, associate director of the Center for International Education, urges students to take advantage of ISEP as an affordable program. “Students at their university in Argentina – or other ISEP institutions – pay all their university tuition, room and board to their university and don’t pay anything when they come here.”
Also, FSU students can pay FSU tuition, room and board here and study abroad for a semester or year at an ISEP partner institution.
– by Charles Schelle