LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico State University student had a successful audition and is now moving forward in the TV singing competition, American Idol. Dzaki Sukarno, 20, is a Las Cruces native and studies agricultural business and aerospace at NMSU. He is also part of the Airforce ROTC. During summer, Sukarno works on green chile farms.

“I worked at the green chile farms across Hatch, Deming, and Cruces. So, I basically walked across the fields, test the soil, the leaves, and make sure we get a good yield for the season,” Sukarno said. Now, he’s headed to Hollywood after getting a golden ticket on American Idol.

“I’m not a guy who cries at all. I don’t cry ever. They asked some really touchy stuff and I remember bursting out crying, like dang I actually made it,” said Sukarno. His family, including his dad who is usually traveling for work, was there when he received the ticket.

“I remember hiding it inside of my shirt and then I walked in there acting really sad, pretended I didn’t get it, and I pulled it out and they were super excited for me,” Sukarno said. “Him being there made it for me for sure. And that’s when I started crying again.”

Sukarno heard about the audition from a friend.”At first, I was kind of hesitant. I was like, there’s no chance of actually making it on the show,” Sukarno said. After multiple Zoom auditions with producers, he made it through to an audition in front of celebrity judges.

The adrenaline took over. “I remember my mind just going blank and it was surreal for sure,” he said. “It was really fun.”

The chile farmer has been singing all his life and started getting serious about it about two years ago. He’s gained popularity on the social media app TikTok after the pandemic stopped him from doing in-person gigs. As his American Idol journey continues, he’s getting guidance from young New Mexico singer, Chevel Shepherd, who won another singing competition, The Voice, in 2018.

“It’s nice having another person that’s gone through the same thing, in the same state, basically the same age,” Sukarno said. “she’s helped with everything. she’s given me confidence and kind of like showed me direction where I should go to towards music.” The two did an Instagram Live after part Sukarno’s audition aired Sunday night. The entire experience has him encouraging others to follow their dreams too.

“The worst that can happen is they say no or you fail, but you need failures in life in order to succeed. So just get those failures and keep pushing forward,” he said.