Modern music instructor an old soul on campus

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Music instructor Monica Ambalal is a fun and passionate person, whose self-proclaimed purpose in life is to give back to her community.

But when she’s not dedicating time to work, grading papers and one-on-one sessions with her students, she is living an adventurous life.

Ambalal is part of a seasonal rowing team, practices Muay Thai boxing and hops onto a longboard as much as possible.

Those are only a fraction of her activities.

TRAVEL BUG: Ambalal in front of a waterfall on one of her many trips. Ambalal loves to travel around the world. COURTESY PHOTO
TRAVEL BUG: Ambalal in front of a waterfall on one of her many trips. Ambalal loves to travel around the world. COURTESY PHOTO

She’s also a skilled cellist and enjoys her time playing in a string quartet called “Strung Out.” The quartet plays weddings, grand opening ceremonies and much more.

As far as longboarding goes, Ambalal said it is her favorite thing to do on a bright and sunny day when she doesn’t have papers to grade.

She is open to students joining her for a quick ride around the block if they’d like, but said students seldom choose to join her.

She’s also a bit of a trendsetter, wearing unique pieces, including attention-grabbing scarves, jewelry and shoes.

Ambalal was unaware of how much her fashion influenced the students at Delta College.

When asked how she felt about being labeled a “trendsetter” she giggled out of surprise and appreciation.

She said she favors vintage clothes from the sixties and pieces that cannot be found in Stockton.

Her main shopping trips take place in San Francisco and Sacramento.

“I don’t want to teach sloppy,” she laughs.

Another “cool factor” on campus is the appearance of tattoos, which Ambalal sports on her forearms.

She has a “tattoo guy” named Antonio, who recently added some detail to a treble clef above her wrist. Ambalal said she can’t help but love tattoos and piercings and would love to get more.

She’s also a travelling queen.

She has been everywhere from the well-known country of Morocco to the unknown French island of Corsica where she stayed in a convent.

Morocco was said to be “such a beautiful trip. The smells of Morocco are like a spice market.”

Italy was another trip to be remembered with adoration, seeing as she has family to visit there.

Ambalal is of Italian and African heritage.

Her mother brings in the Italian and her father carries the African nationality that makes Ambalal the worldly woman students know her to be.

Some students have commented on Ambalal’s “strict” teaching method and she responds with a graceful tone.

“I have a very abrasive personality to some people,” she said.

She is only firm when she needs to be, she added.

“I have to protect people from distractions. I used to be a lot worse,” she said.

Ambalal stressed how important teaching is in her life.

She was graciously offered this job when her own music professor retired from the position years ago. She was honored and stepped into the role that she once admired from the seats we sit in today.

“When I’m in the classroom, I feel like a completely different person. It’s like a fire inside me,” she said.