The sounds of students singing fill the halls of the second floor in the UCF Biological Sciences building on a Wednesday night. Rehearsing the night away, the students in UCF's Glee Club are hard at work to prepare for their end-of-the-semester showcase.
Erika Hanley, Glee Club's vice president, calls out dance steps for the choreography she designed with a few fellow members while others sing along.
"We just want to perform. We want to make sure we have a good time, and we want to make sure other people have a good time," Hanley said.
To some members, Glee provides more than a creative outlet to grow their musical talents, it's a place to escape reality and build relationships. Whether someone is struggling to find a place to feel at ease at a new school or looking to get involved, Glee is there, giving students an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
The Glee Club allows anyone to join — regardless of if they're in the music or theatre program or not. Students of a variety of majors and backgrounds have united together over their love for song and community. In fact, many of the members are studying in majors outside of the music and theatre profession.
Hanley, a senior psychology and sociology double major, joined because she wanted to get involved with music and have an artistic outlet when she came to UCF.
"Staying in Glee, I was able to find a home away from home," Hanley said. "I know I have friends that I can trust and that I can definitely lean on that when I get with them."
During her freshman year at UCF, Hanley struggled with a death in the family. In a time where she needed family and friends to get her through everything, Glee was there to support her.
As a double major, she spends a lot of time on her thesis, and being in Glee has given her an opportunity to relax and release her stress.
Not everyone in Glee joined intentionally, though. David Borrego joined by accident, but it's completely changed his time at UCF.
Borrego, a senior human communications major, joined the club unintentionally when his friends signed him up for auditions and didn't tell him until they were walking in to the audition.
He was surprised but what his friends did, but seized the opportunity and took to the stage with his guitar.
"Glee has done a lot for me, even though I don’t think Glee really knows it. I had times where I was struggling in school, personal dilemmas with my family [and] my job, and Glee has always been a constant source of relief for me," Borrego said.
He said singing wipes all the worries off his mind.
"I could go in there with all the problems in the world, but once I get to that door, once I hear all those voices singing, everyone trying to do something as a unit, it kind of takes all of that stress away," he said.
Even though he didn't intend to join, the club has grown to be a large part of his life because of the friendships he formed and the outlet he gained to pursue his passion for music.
Aside from performances, Glee volunteers in the community and holds group social events. For Halloween, the group volunteered at the Central Florida Zoo and handed out candy to children. Around the holidays, the members all get together for a potluck and a gift exchange to grow their friendships beyond the walls of the Biological Sciences building.
"For that one-and-a–half-hour or two-hour dance practice or performance, I'm going to be smiling, I'm going to be doing something other than being preoccupied with my problems," Borrego said.
UCF's Glee Club has given students a creative outlet to express themselves and a support group to lean on. (Video by Marissa Norwood and Rosie Reitze)