PUC Sophomore Student Leads On and Off Stage, Encouraging Musical Community

By Ally Romanes on June 25, 2024

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Leila Beltran decided to attend Pacific Union College for two reasons: she heard the education department was one of the best in the Adventist school system, and she knew she thrived in a smaller community. With an interest in developing relationships and realizing she wouldn’t like to go to a college or university where everyone was just another face in a crowd, PUC was the community for Beltran to receive support and make meaningful connections.

Beltran will soon complete her sophomore year of liberal studies and earn a music associate's degree. Within this school year, she has made a tremendous impact in the music department by being the president of the music club and co-directing and co-producing PUC on Broadway and Shrek the Musical. With a love for musicals and hearing students' interest in putting on a show, Beltran dedicated time to making these productions happen and considerably accommodating her cast and crew to give the community enjoyable shows.

She didn’t always have a passion for musicals, aside from knowing the famous musicals Hamilton and Wicked, but not much beyond that. Movie soundtracks and music in general were something she enjoyed, but she couldn’t call herself a theater kid since she wasn’t around theater culture. That changed once she came to PUC.

When PUC performed Jericho Road last school year, it opened Beltran’s eyes to how exciting it was to perform onstage and take on an acting role. More importantly, this show gave her friends—which she says she wouldn’t have made otherwise. Another huge reason why musicals now have a fond place in her heart.

Growing up in San Diego, CA, Beltran was surrounded by music, hearing her mother sing and play piano. She started playing piano in kindergarten and can also play the oboe. With music a part of her life, she sang and played piano for her home church.

At PUC, Beltran has the pleasure of singing for both campus choirs—the Chorale and Vox Pro Musica. “In VPM, it’s so fun to sing with friends,” expressed Beltran. “The chaotic energy that comes with a rehearsal at night with a bunch of music nerds as well as people who like to cause chaos is something I look forward to.” In chorale, she was asked to sing second soprano, which has been challenging for her.

She thanks Assistant Music Professor Ronnie Zanella for picking great music in the one year he’s been teaching at PUC. “She is a very talented musician,” said Zanella. “She is a natural leader for her classmates in anything music-related.”

Beltran’s leadership extends even beyond musicals onstage. As this year’s Music Club president, she creates a space for students to bond over music. She’s also created performance opportunities for anyone to join, no matter their major. The club has performed student-run concerts, songwriting open mics, and hosted concert trips. Her hope for the club is to become a community for everyone to be themselves and enjoy music together.

One of the biggest lessons she’s learned at PUC is advocating for herself. With how she helps lead campus musicals and the music club, it’s students like Beltran who advocate for others to showcase their musical talents, get out of their comfort zone, and the importance of music on campus and beyond.