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Former Romanian pop singer taking classes at OTC

Maricia Zaharuk is a long way from her native country of Romania but the 32-year-old feels very comfortable in her new location in Springfield and at OTC.

“I feel like I was born here. Here is where I belong. I like it here,” Zaharuk said.

Not only is Zaharuk trading countries but careers, too. The once-successful singer in a well-known Romanian band is at OTC preparing to become a nurse.

“It’s something I think I can do and be good at. I miss the music but I want to better myself by getting an education. I like the life I have now,” she said.

Zaharuk went to a Romanian school for music and recorded her first CD with a band led by Petrica Nicoara when she was 17.

The music is something Zaharuk said was similar to American country music but featured a saxophone and accordion. Nicoara wrote most of the bands songs and the group, according to Zaharuk, was very popular and the most popular band in the country.

During that time, the band traveled through Europe and then came to Anaheim, Calif., in 2000 to play to Romanian communities there and around the country.

After the U.S. tour, Zaharuk returned to Romanian but came back to California a short time later and decided to live in California. She had friends in the Ozarks who convinced her to move to Springfield seven years ago.

Zaharuk doesn’t sing any more but admits she misses the music.

“It’s better for myself to have an education. Ive heard a lot about Branson but Ive never gone to a show. Ive never tried to sing American songs but I like Carrie Underwood,” she said.

But for Zaharuk, now is the time to concentrate on her education, which she started at OTC this semester.

“I was a little worried at first since I dont have any Romanian friends who speak English. Studying is hard but I think Ill do well for the first semester,” she said.

“The teachers here are very good. They understand me and help me a lot in the classroom. I depend a lot on the OTC people.”


College Director of Communications

Phone: 417.447.2655


Steve Koehler

Coordinator of Media Relations

Phone: (417) 447-2666


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