Rewriting the story

Posted at 8:39 AM, Dec 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-12 08:39:17-05

Whether playing the trombone at home alone or with an entire symphony, music speaks to Paul Rivera like nothing else. He feels music on a visceral level, within his very being.

From overcoming dyslexia and understanding his synesthesia to performing with some of Los Angeles’ top studio musicians, Rivera has worked hard to be where he is.

Currently, he is a master’s student studying music performance in Michigan State’s College of Music. He could have chosen anywhere for his graduate education: Berlin, Germany or California, Washington or the East Coast.

“As an artist, you’re always waiting for the bottom to drop out, like failure is just around the corner,” Rivera says. “But I feel like my two feet are on the ground for the very first time and it feels good.”

Upon discovering he had been awarded the University Enrichment Fellowship — one of a select few given by the Graduate School each year to qualified candidates — Rivera felt “shock, disbelief.”

Rivera shares that initially the news seemed too good to be true, and quickly his disbelief turned to gratitude.

Since coming to MSU, Rivera has felt supported, mentored and welcomed. One faculty member even brings his dog chew toys. Rivera says the relationships he has built here feel like extended family.

Being a hard-working, determined leader, Rivera exemplifies what it means to be a Spartan.

“This thing is work, but it’s working,” Rivera says with a smile. “There are people, talented people, all over the world looking for exactly what is going on here [at MSU]. I’m so glad to be part of this unique place.”

Rivera has a deep love for film and aspires to work as a studio producer.

Learn more about the importance of supporting talented graduate students like Paul through fellowships.