Enrique Barrera III | Vocal Performance ('15)
When he was 6 years old, Enrique Barrera watched his grandmother play hymns on the piano and asked her to teach him to play.
Esther Corrigeaux, who had always hoped one of her children would follow in her musical footsteps, was only too happy to oblige, teaching her grandson in Spanish.
“It just clicked in my head,” Enrique says of learning scales, notes and the other pieces that go into music. “It made a lot of sense.”
Music continues to make sense for Enrique, who is earning two degrees in the subject and will be one of the six hosts and hostesses of ACU’s Sing Song in February.
A member of the Big Purple, Enrique can play three instruments, but his passion is opera. He’s aware of how unusual that is.
“It’s odd to find people my age that aspire to pursue that as a career,” he said. “It’s a really small world.”
Enrique is the first member of his family to go to college; his parents emigrated from Mexico before they were married. They always stressed the importance of education, he said, and were determined that he, the oldest of three children, should be the first to get a higher education.
A friend from high school had come to ACU, and recommended it to Enrique, who had never even heard of Abilene, let alone its largest university.
“I saw the campus, and I loved it,” he said. “It’s a really beautiful campus, and we were taken aback by the Christian community. That was my first impression here – a quality campus with great Christ-centered people.”
Two obstacles remained: Enrique would need financial help to attend, and his parents were reluctant to let him leave home for a city hundreds of miles away.
In the end, taking care of the first problem helped with the second.
“The scholarships really got my parents’ attention,” he said.
Enrique auditioned before the Music Department faculty, and was approved for a vocal/choral scholarship. In all, he’s cobbled together seven grants and scholarships to offset a majority of his tuition.
“Thank you very much,” Enrique said of the donors who made his scholarships possible. “You make it possible for me to have an education and realize my dreams as a musician.”
Meanwhile, he continues his lifelong passion with music – playing piano since 6, singing in choir since eighth grade, singing opera since high school.
“I just realized there was nothing else I could possibly want to do other than music,” he said.
The world of opera is a difficult one in which to earn full-time work, so Enrique is earning a vocal education degree so he can teach, as well. Add on the beginning of Sing Song practice, and junior year is turning out to be a busy one.
It’s worth it, he said, especially when he returns home with videos of his performances for his grandmother to watch. He’s hopeful she will come to Abilene for his junior recital in the later in the fall.
“She seems really happy,” he said. “She’s definitely very proud.”