Pace Magazine

Tabi Haly '06: Taking a Stance

January 19, 2023
tabi haly in an alley in nyc

Millions of people live in New York City, but few have done it better than Pace University’s own Tabi Haly ‘06. From the day Haly moved into her Pace downtown dorm room, she fell in love with the opportunities the city provided. In a metropolis like this, fortune favors the bold and if Haly is one thing, it’s bold. A singer-songwriter with a debut album under her belt, she’s performed at iconic venues like Mercury Lounge and Rockwood Music Hall. She’s dazzled audiences with her Mona Lisa smile and chic, blue-green evening gown during New York Fashion Week and was even highlighted in a Vogue article covering the show. She has even been featured by New York Times and still works as a software engineer. She has achieved, and continues to achieve, many successes, despite a major obstacle.

Before her first birthday, Haly was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare degenerative genetic disease that affects muscle movement and respiration. She’s never been able to walk, and her condition worsens as she ages, leaving her with very little mobility. However, she never let that slow her down.

Haly graduated Pace University summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. She loved her time at Pace University and built friendships that last to this day. Just like with New York, Haly found love at first sight with Pace.

"Everyone was so welcoming and friendly—they looked at me without looking down at me and it felt nice.”

“I call it the moment of truth—when you observe something and take a mental note that impacts how you think or feel about it. My moment of truth at Pace was so positive. I remember being stopped by students saying things like 'are you going to go here? you should go here, girl!' Everyone was so welcoming and friendly—they looked at me without looking down at me and it felt nice.”

While studying at Pace, Haly loved singing in the choir. At the end of her freshman year, she excitedly prepared for the group’s annual performance at the Schimmel Center. When she arrived at the first rehearsal and looked around, her heart sank. The choir leadership forgot to see if their selected stage was accessible for all members.

While her peers joyfully sang on stage, Haly was in the audience cheering them on. The next day, however, she put herself to work. She became an active advocate and wrote letters, imploring those in power to make the theater accessible so everyone could get their shot in the spotlight. Because of her effort, Schimmel Center became fully accessible.

Haly learned how to use her voice to advocate for herself. Her strength stemmed from necessity but has now grown into so much more. Haly’s second album, Stance, will explore her experience living with SMA but, her paramount goal is to inspire others to stand up for themselves.

“When I say ‘Stance,’ I mean standing up for yourself. I’m excited for people to hear it and listen to what I’ve been through the last few years because singing is what got me through [the] tough times. My goal is to have people hear my music and feel like they can stand up for themselves and feel better.”

Learn more about this trailblazing Pace alumna or to listen to her music.

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