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Former College of DuPage Student Competes on ‘The Voice’

Micah Tryba

By Brian Kleemann

Micah Tryba came to College of DuPage hoping to prepare for a career in music education.

But the lifelong music lover discovered that she didn’t have a passion for teaching.

“I wanted music to be something that gives me joy rather than something that was work,” said the Wheaton resident. “When my dog passed away from cancer, a light switch went off in my head. I made an appointment with a COD advisor, who laid out what classes I needed to take to prepare for a career in veterinary medicine.”

After two years at College of DuPage, Tryba transferred to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and earned a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. She was accepted into the veterinary graduate program and was ready to begin when music returned to her life in a big way. And it was a random audition that changed everything.

“Last year, I was with my mom for a Mother’s Day visit to New York City, and we noticed that ‘The Voice’ was holding auditions,” she said. “My mom – who also sings – and I both decided to audition on the spur of the moment. So we went to the Javits Center, where more than 5,000 people were auditioning.

“I had tried out for ‘American Idol’ a few times but nothing happened. When I got a call back from ‘The Voice,’ I really wasn’t expecting it. So I extended my stay, and the next audition was at a recording studio in Times Square.”

With every round, Tryba kept thinking it would end and admitted she “ugly cried” when she was selected for the blind auditions. This meant singing in front of an audience, TV cameras and the four celebrity judges – one of whom she hoped would select her for the competition. Tryba chose to perform “I’m Every Woman,” made famous by both Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston.

“Growing up, I wanted to be Whitney Houston,” she said. “‘I’m Every Woman’ is a powerful song with a lot of energy. I knew it like the back of my hand, which was good because I expected to feel the pressure of the moment. There is some apprehension in taking on a Whitney Houston song because she is one of those untouchable artists, but ‘The Voice’ really encouraged me.”

Click here to watch Tryba’s blind audition on “The Voice.” 

“We rehearsed on stage two days before the taping, and that’s when it really hit me. I got super emotional, but I worked most of the shock and awe out of my system. Moments before the actual audition, I said a handful of prayers and then walked out. When (celebrity judge) Blake Shelton turned his chair around, it was insane. You want someone to do that, and I was telling myself in the back of my head, ‘Ignore him and keep singing.’ Then Gwen Stefani turned around and at the end I had to choose one of them to be my mentor. I knew every judge would have wonderful and different things to bring to the table, but I heard Blake is really invested with the people on his team. When I looked up at my family in the audience, they were all screaming ‘Blake! Blake! Blake!’”

Tryba did select Shelton. While the early rounds of the competition have been completed, NBC is just starting to air these episodes and Tryba cannot comment on her experiences or the outcome. If she makes it through to the final rounds, they will be televised live with a national audience selecting the winner.

She’s enjoying every moment of the journey, especially since music has been part of her life from an early age, when her parents put her in the choir at Blanchard Road Alliance Church in Wheaton. Both her mom and her mom’s twin sister are singers, and like them, Tryba was involved with chorus and musicals at Wheaton North High School.

“I have lots of memories cleaning house on Saturdays and my mom and I belting out songs by Whitney Houston, the Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow and Shania Twain,” she said. “I would mimic how my mom sang and what I heard on the radio. But I never thought of pursuing it seriously.”

Although Tryba knew college was non-negotiable, her four-year university plans fell through when her family went through a tough financial period. That’s when she turned to College of DuPage.

“COD was a great place to start my college education and to take my introductory science courses,” she said. “If I had been at a four-year school taking the intro classes for biology and chemistry in large classrooms, I wouldn’t have received personal attention from the faculty, plus I would have had too many distractions living on campus.”

Tryba did keep her hand in music while at school. At COD, she was a member of the Chamber Singers, while at the University of Illinois she was part of an a cappella group that performed at Times Square.

She sees her experience on “The Voice” as an opportunity to explore. While the University of Illinois is saving a seat for her in its veterinary program, she is open to the possibility of a music career.

“I’m not closing any doors,” she said. “If something comes of this, I’m ready to go for that ride. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. I’m just so thankful for what the past year has brought me, because I’ve met great people who have become lifelong friends.”

As for College of DuPage, Tryba knows she received a top-notch education.

“At first, I was like a lot of students who come to COD and feel like they are a little stuck, watching their friends go off to a four year-school. It’s a bummer and a little scary,” she said. “But I realized it’s an amazing place. I found myself and my focus at College of DuPage, and when I transferred I was ready to take on everything that comes with going to a four-year university.”

College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 28,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants nine associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.

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