In 2003, Atla had the opportunity to sing with Jazz legend Jon Hendricks at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Hendricks invited Atla to study with him at the University of Toledo. She accepted the offer and studied with Hendricks for 1 year. She then transferred to the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School of Music and formed a trio with Matt DeChamplain (piano) and Adam Cote (bass). She studied with vocalists Shawnn Monteiro and Dena DeRose and worked under bassist Nat Reeves and trombonist Steve Davis. She completed her Bachelors Degree magna cum laude. She continued her education at the University of Toledo, where she received her Masters degree with a full scholarship. She worked as Jon Hendricks assistant and researched vocal jazz pedagogy as it relates to the performer. Atla currently teaches jazz voice at Western Connecticut State University, and teaches music at Capital Community College. She is currently working on a book about learning and performing Vocalese. She also authors a blog for aspiring Jazz Vocalists.