For the Love of Music

Rider University President's Award recipient Justin Su'esu'e follows his dream.
Monday, May 12, 2014

Voice Performance major Justin Su’esu’e came to Westminster Choir College from California after putting aside his dreams for a career in music for four years, following the untimely deaths of his parents.  But the pull of music was too compelling, and he came to Princeton in 2011 to pursue his first love.

Once he set foot on campus, Justin quickly immersed himself in the community and emerged as a campus leader. As a Student Orientation Leader, he welcomed new students to campus and helped them adjust to their lives as college students. As president of Westminster’s Student Government Association, he proved to be an insightful, articulate and persuasive student leader.

Justin has also been active in community service. At Westminster he regularly joined the Phi Mu Alpha service fraternity to sing at the Princeton Care Center. He also served as captain of the Westminster SGA’s Relay for Life Team, which was the top fund-raising team in the annual event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Each summer, he returns to his hometown of Modesto, Ca., to work with the Youth Entertainment Stage Company, an outreach program for grades 7 through 12, where he mentors students and serves as an assistant choreographer and musical director.

He’s been named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and has received numerous awards, including the Student Government Association’s Scholarship Award, and the Phillip Campanella Memorial Scholarship. In recognition of his achievements and leadership, Justin received a 2014 Rider University President’s Award at Westminster’s Spring Convocation - and a standing ovation from his fellow students.

“My heart is overwhelmed with love and gratitude. It is such an honor to receive this award,” he says. “So much love for my WCC family!”

As a member of the Westminster Choir, Justin has been an effective and articulate ambassador at high school workshops during the ensemble’s concert tours.  He also made his operatic debut as a principle with Westminster Choir in a production of Umberto Giordano’s Mese Mariano at the 2013 Spoleto Festival USA.  With the Westminster Symphonic Choir, he has performed with some of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors. 

“These last few years I have been blessed to perform with the leading orchestras from around the world at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and The Kimmel Center numerous times,” he says.  “I'm amazed when I look back at all the fabulous opportunities Westminster Symphonic Choir has given me. Most of my favorite memories were in Philadelphia performing under the baton of Yannick Nezet-Seguin.”

Justin plans to continue his music studies and enter the master’s program in vocal performance at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music this fall.  His long-term goal is to sing and perform throughout the world.  “The stage is my home-away-from-home,” he says.

He also wants to open his own voice studio and teach at the university level. He hopes to create a performing group that will go into classrooms and teach students classical music through the visual and performing arts.

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