When he was in 5th grade, Eli had a desire to go to a school that would be more academically focused. A family friend went to Minnehaha and highly recommended it, so Eli did a shadow visit, and really liked it. There was one problem. The school charged tuition, and his family couldn’t afford to pay the whole amount. His family applied for the Heritage & Hope Scholarship, a donor-funded program which provides needs-based financial assistance to mission appropriate students. Eli’s family received the scholarship, and he started MA in 6th grade.
Home Away From Home
Eli came to Minnehaha because he wanted an environment that would challenge him. What he didn’t realize was that MA would provide him with a home. “I felt cared for by the students and faculty. I felt a great sense of community. I was excited to learn and excited to go to class. I feel lucky and blessed to have had that experience.”
As he got older, he got involved with many of the arts, like theatre, orchestra, and choir. He auditioned for the fall play his freshman year, and was lucky to be cast, as there were only a few freshmen cast. “That experience really changed my life, because I realized that theatre and performing was something I really loved and I found gratifying.” His biggest influence was Mrs. Hallberg, his band and orchestra teacher. “She helped cultivate a love of music in me and supported me in expanding my musical horizons by joining choir and taking voice lessons.”
His final orchestra and choir Christmas concert of his senior year found him ‘in the moment’ and really cherishing that experience. He reflected on how lucky he was to be around people he loved, and to be involved in all the things he loved to do. “I felt very cared for and was very happy at Minnehaha.”
During his time at MA, he was involved in three orchestras, two choirs, and in every main stage play and musical. “I don’t think I would have had that opportunity at any other High School. Those experiences shaped me into the person I am today and gave me the confidence and knowledge that I can make a career in doing what I love: music.”
Life Beyond MA
Today, Eli is at St. Olaf college, working on a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance. “That’s basically ‘code’ for music and opera,” says Eli. He especially loves opera and hopes to start his career as an opera singer. “Opera combines acting, music and singing. It was a natural progression of those interests for me.”
In 2017-18, Eli was a young artist with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. He was in a production with Stephen Swanson, ’63, the Head of Vocal Music at the University of Iowa. “His professionalism and depth of experience added so much to the production,” says Eli. In the past two summers, he has performed in operas with the Halifax Summer Opera Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada.
To The Students
What would Eli say his school experience would have been like if he had not come to MA? “I’m not sure where I would be in life right now. I don’t think I would be going to the college I’m going to, or pursuing the career I’m pursuing, because MA really opened opportunities for me in those ways that I do not think I would have had at other schools. The Heritage and Hope Scholarship enabled me to come to MA and have a phenomenal education and experience.”