As musician Adin Boyer, who’s on the autism spectrum, got ready at his keyboard, a robotic female voice came over the speakers in College of the Canyons’ Performing Arts Center.
“I’m a sucky person, I really am. I truly love talking to you, I just get absolutely distracted from pretty much everything that isn’t right in front of me,” said the voice.
This was the prelude to Boyer’s musical performance at Yes I Can Unity Through Music and Education’s Career Skills Certificate recognition event on Saturday. Boyer was the event’s keynote speaker.
An alumnus of California Institute of the Arts, Boyer is a classically trained musician who advanced to the top 55 contestants on “American Idol” — receiving praise from Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Phillip Phillips along the way.
The prelude and the subsequent song’s lyrics were extremely personal. Boyer created much of his work as an expression of being overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic and from residual feelings of being bullied extensively throughout his school years.
Like his song, his speech was also raw and personal, but also meant to be inspiring.
“I’m not here to flex my credentials, the complete opposite of that. This is not at all about me, by any means, this is about you,” said Boyer. “It’s about each and every one of you all. You (should be) very, very proud of yourselves. I know you guys have that spark in you and I’m here to help you keep that momentum once you leave here and bring it to the next level.”
Boyer then detailed his experience growing up in Orange County, finding an education system that helped foster his artistic talents, learning how to network while navigating the social awkwardness that comes with autism and learning how to achieve his dreams while still being himself.
“Our main purpose is to prepare young individuals with disabilities, lift up their career skills and career skills training that they need in order to be successful,” said Brett Lieberman, executive director of Yes I Can. “We take a lot of pride in finding them jobs in the entertainment industry and feel as though you can find something that you’re really passionate about and turn that passion into a paycheck.”
Additional guest speakers included John Prabhu, co-founder of LA North Studios, and Jake Arvizu — a young man on the autism spectrum who recently landed a job after impressing management of the studios during an internship. Arvizu is a Yes I Can alumnus.
“I’m very happy to be here and I gotta say, it’s been a wild ride,” said Arvizu. “I’m very happy of where I ended up today. If it weren’t for Brett and his program, I wouldn’t know where I would be as of right now. They really helped me open the door to so many opportunities of what I can really explore.”
The approximately 40 students received certificates in Career and Lifestyle Exploration, Career Strategy, Emerging Leadership, Customer Relations and Fundamentals of Communication.