Alumni couple growing the Boise hip-hop scene

She had a passion for dancing. He had a desire to pursue a career in hip-hop. Together, College of Idaho alumni Miranda Palacio ’13 and Andrew Heikkila ’12 formed the artist collective Earthlings Entertainment in 2013.

With the goal to “constantly challenge the status quo through artistic expression and creative inspiration,” Earthlings Entertainment is growing the underground hip-hop scene in Boise. But the collective of artists—which includes poets, writers, dancers and more—also aims to give back to the community.

“I think it’s super crucial to give back,” Palacio said. “Because this is such a beautiful city, we feel obligated to cultivate it and keep it growing.”

Such was the case with Earthling Entertainment’s Spirit of Hip Hop show at the Knitting Factory in December. Proceeds benefitted the Idaho Food Bank and the Idaho Youth Ranch’s Hays House. It was one of the biggest productions the group put on. It was also one of the only times Heikkila was nervous to take the stage—to ask Palacio to marry him.

“It was different than anything I’ve ever experienced,” Heikkila said. “When you go up there and are yourself and being personal, you’re a little more exposed.”

And, of course, Palacio said “yes.”

The newly engaged couple share a passion for the arts and performing, a flame that was ignited when they were young and bloomed once they came to the C of I.

It was Michael Jackson combined with an elementary school talent show that hooked Palacio on dancing. When the beats of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” boomed over the loud speaker, Palacio started to freestyle dance and fell in love with the stage.

After dancing nationally in high school, Palacio became burned out and turned her focus to academics and while attending the C of I—until another talent show came calling. During her junior year, Palacio and a friend decided to choreograph a dance for the C of I talent show.

“It was the first time I’d danced in two years, and it kind of just woke me back up,” Palacio said.

Since then, Palacio helped form Corevette, an all-female dance group consisting of Alex Mclaughlin, Marissa Grund and Emily Long. In addition to performing and touring festivals throughout the Northwest (including Boise’s own Treefort), the group performs dance workshops all around the Treasure Valley.

“I love meeting new people,” Palacio said. “I like making movement accessible to anybody who is new to it and really wants to find that freedom of expression in movement.”

Heikkila, who goes by the stage name Andy O., started listening to hip-hop in the sixth grade and dabbled in writing verses. As a C of I student, he cut his first album in the Langroise Center recording studio.

“It didn’t sound good at all, but I did it and felt good about that,” he said.

For Palacio and Heikkila, the C of I was a door that led them to each other and opened the possibilities of what they could do in the performing arts. Whether it was studying English and biology, or hosting events with Program Council, each experience crafted them into the people they are today—and gave them the confidence to follow their dreams.

“I think that’s the beauty of the C of I experience,” Palacio said. “C of I undoubtedly gave me all the tools I needed to pursue my passion. I would never have had the courage or the knowledge to pursue what I wanted to do without my C of I education.”

Photo credit: Jacob Sternberg

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit