Ecuadorian-born Paula Cevallos ’20 traded the Andean foothills of Quito for the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains—and it was all thanks to a computer algorithm.
Paula recalls, “Do you know how Amazon has the ‘Users Also Bought’ section when you’re shopping? Well, the website I was using to apply to colleges had the same kind of thing, and the University of Redlands popped up. I saw that the School of Music application fee was only five dollars, so I figured I could risk it!”
After she applied, she found out her high school voice teacher had taken classes from U of R Professor Melissa Tosh at a conference. “I asked my voice teacher if she thought the University of Redlands would be a good fit for me, and she said, ‘Of course.’”
Now, 3,500 miles later, Paula is pursuing a vocal performance degree. “When I was growing up, my dad always sang and my aunt is an opera singer, so I always gravitated towards singing,” she says. “But my high school didn’t have a choral program, so I joined the band and played oboe and percussion.”
Coming to Redlands finally allowed Paula to develop her passion for singing. “Choral programs don’t really exist in Ecuador,” she says. “Until I came to Redlands I didn’t know that choirs had directors. The Chapel Singers, which is a very demanding ensemble, really put me into gear.”
Paula credits Chapel Singers Director Nicholle Andrews with pushing her to be the best performer she can be. “I see her for at least six hours a week—she has a lot of teachable moments in her classes and will go to extreme lengths to help her students,” Paula says. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what country you came from; she will put you to work.”
Paula notes that the community she has found at the University of Redlands has surpassed her expectations. “When I was applying to college, I wanted a place with a community that I could lean on for the tiniest things—like a ride to the airport,” she says. “At Redlands, I’ve found a tightknit community and personalized education. I know everyone’s name in the music program.”
Since enrolling at the University of Redlands, Paula has also gained confidence. “Being so far away from home and having to manage everything on my own for the first time has taught me … to trust myself more.”