By Regina Stracqualursi

As a child, Marina Robles remembers boarding the ferry with her godparents and traveling from New Jersey into New York City to visit the Museum of Modern Art. It was trips like those, and experiencing the artistic culture of New York City, that sparked her passion for art.

And her passion has only grown since then. If you visit her apartment today, you’ll find her paintings and drawings plastered all over the walls. “It’s my form of expression,” Robles says.

Throughout her life, she has embraced every opportunity within the arts. In addition to painting, drawing, and sketching, she took up singing, acting, dancing, choreographing, and playing percussion — all before graduating from high school.

Therefore, it was surprising when Robles announced that she would be attending a technological research university like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “It was unexpected, even to my family,” she says. “But I just felt like I was at home as soon as I stepped onto campus.”

Now, Robles is in her junior year and pursing her bachelor’s degree in the Rensselaer School of Architecture and she believes her background as an artist enhances her abilities as a future architect. “You get to be so creative and think outside of the box,” she says. “Architecture is a combination of everything — you need the research, the history behind a site, the math and physics when it comes to the actual building, but then you also need creativity and artistic capability.”

While school is her main focus, Robles is also currently part of the RPI Players, a student-run theater group, as well as the RPI Cheer Team. This semester, she also auditioned for and became part of the Rensselaer Concert Choir. “The only word I could say following her [audition] was, ‘wow!’ She gave one of the finest auditions I have heard in my 20-year career as a conductor,” says Robert Whalen, lecturer of music and conducting and director of the Rensselaer Orchestra, Concert Choir, and Chamber Music Activities. “She has a powerful, expressive, and agile voice.”

As we celebrate the inauguration of Dr. Martin A. Schmidt ’81 as the 19th president of Rensselaer, Robles will sing the national anthem during the investiture ceremony, taking place on October 6 at 1:30 p.m. EDT (watch her performance live on YouTube). She will also sing the Rensselaer Alma Mater with the Concert Choir.

Though she is formally pursuing architecture as a career, Robles hopes she will one day perform on a Broadway stage. “I’ve always dreamed of going to Broadway, and I’ve always put it on the backburner, but I’m 100% going to go for it.”