Humberto Molero lives a double life.
He is a music business student at Wolfson Campus and a drummer for SanLuis, a Venezuelan-based band currently on a promotional tour in the United States and Latin America. Molero also has three Grammy awards under his belt.
The feat is even more impressive because Molero has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic disorder of the eyes that causes loss of vision through the degeneration of the retina. He was diagnosed with the disease when he was nine-years-old.
But he never let that stop his passion for music. As a kid in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Molero’s fondest memories involved listening to rock songs on the radio.
“I remember turning on the radio in the car, sitting back, and losing myself in the rhythm of the music,” Molero said. “From a young age, I was drawn to music and I just knew I had to keep chasing it.”
When he decided to pursue a career in music, he initially bounced around, trying different instruments until he discovered the drums when he was 12.
“I was trying to find the instrument that fit my life,” Molero said. “When you have a talent, sometimes you don’t really know what fits your passion. When I decided to start playing the drums, I felt an immediate connection to the drums. I could understand everything. The sound just fills my head and from that moment I thought to myself: ‘This is it. This is the instrument I was meant to play.’”
For Molero, his impairment never affected his ability to master the drums.
“I don’t think it was ever any different learning how to play. Once you memorize where each part of the drumset is, it’s permanent,” Molero said. “The drums are like an extension of my body. The moment the instructor first sat me down and explained to me how to position my body and play the instrument, I knew this would be my life.”
Once he chose the drums, he took lessons from countless private instructors. Molero was first taught basic rhythm from the YAMAHA Music Academy and from there worked his way up the music world.
He joined his first band accidentally at 16. His older sister, Maria Alcira, told him about a group of musicians whose drummer needed help learning songs. When Molero came over to teach him, the bandmates insisted he join them. That band’s name was Polbo Sonico.
From that moment, he began gaining notoriety. But it wasn’t until he joined the rock band Voz Veis in the early 2000s that he gained commercial success. Voz Veis was awarded three Latin Grammy Awards for Best Short-Form music video and Best Latin Children’s Album in 2008 and for Best Long Form Music Video in 2010.
In 2011, Voz Veis split up and Molero joined the newly-formed group, SanLuis.
Santiago Castillo, a former singer for VosVeis, and founder of SanLuis and Molero’s friend for more than 20 years, knew he had to bring Molero along with him.
“He brings with him so much creativity and talent that without him, the band seems to be missing a piece,” Castillo said.
In 2016, Molero moved to Miami to continue developing his talents as a musician. Though he received a bachelor’s degree in law from the Universidad del Zulia in 2001, Molero didn’t want to limit himself. He wanted to test the waters of music management and business, which brought him to Miami Dade College where he is studying music business and taking English classes at Wolfson Campus.
“Coming to the United States, there were a lot of challenges that I had to face. Learning English and being visually impaired, there are a lot of challenges that just make the obstacles difficult to get by,” Molero said. “There were times when I was really scared and overcome with emotion that I didn’t know what to do but the most important thing is knowing that at that moment, you have to keep fighting.”
This spring was his first semester at MDC. He faced a lot of adversity, adjusting to the workload and a new background. Working with tutors, the ACCESS Department and the World Languages Department helped Molero adjust.
At MDC, he grew close to Maria Verona Garcia, the World Languages Department chairperson at Wolfson Campus.
They met on the elevator on her first day where he brought up his love for music and their relationship blossomed. Since then, he visits the department almost daily, looking for assistance or just to chat.
“When he comes to visit, it’s the best day,” Verona said. “When he’s here, the day becomes more fun and real. He’s really amazing, having accomplished so much and overcome everything he has.”
After graduating, he hopes to earn a master’s degree and get a job in the industry.
During the summer, Molero will continue taking English for Academic Purposes classes and tour with SanLuis. Dates have not yet been announced.
“You’re always going to have obstacles in your life, but the hardest part can be staying confident that you’re going to get past them. It’s easy to view being visually impaired as a setback and it can really bring you down but when you overcome all of those challenges, it makes things feel so rewarding,” Molero said. “Being visually impaired has also helped me see the world from a different perspective and I think it’s amazing to share with people and help them understand that anything can be overcome.”