By Loren Rhoades, Assistant Features Editor
“I want them to not take the land of America for granted,” Jude Balthazar said.
Balthazar is a senior vocal music major from Haiti who spent six years working towards studying music in America.
It all started when he was introduced to associate professor of music, Dr. Louima Lilite in the summer of 2009 at a music camp in Haiti.
“Since being introduced to him it’s been completely different,” Balthazar said. “I don’t think it’s someone I could let go of, for what I am learning and how I am growing.”
Balthazar was studying computer science at the time but wanted to come to the United States, so he asked Lilite if he could help him find a scholarship to come study at OBU or Biola University in California.
Lilite could help, but only with scholarships in the field of music. Thus, starting Balthazar’s career in vocal music.
“I never had a music dream, but one thing I always felt was that I always wanted to be on stage,” Balthazar said.
Before coming to the U.S. Balthazar had to first better his English.
While working on his English proficiency, he was invited to study music at a university in Trinidad and Tobago in 2013.
There he received an artist diploma in music performances.
Once he finished the program in Trinidad and Tobago in 2016, he began the process of applying to OBU.
Dr. Lilite said it was a miracle from God that finally brought Balthazar to the university.
“Loads of prayers were lifted up to God on his behalf,” Lilite said. “Donations were giv-en from all over the place until there was enough funding for the US consulate to grant him a student visa.”
Balthazar said once he arrived everything was completely different than he anticipated, specifically the academic system.
With English being his second language, not everything was easy for him to grasp.
Especially because the English he studied in Trinidad is not the same as it is here.
“Being here I have been in a situation where I have had to learn differently and grow differently,” he said.
Although difficult at first, Balthazar has used the opportunity of being at OBU to his advantage. Lilite said he constantly listens and seeks to take to heart what is taught to him here.
“His singing has blossomed and continues to bless many,” Lilite said. “He spots needs and seeks to meet them. He is much more mature and flexible now than when we first met. In this case, I am grateful to see OBU’s mission at work — true life transformation has occurred in him.”
Balthazar said being at OBU and in the U.S. has taught him that there is a better way to do things, and not only in the aspect of academics and respecting others, but also with his voice.
“I have learned to control myself, I have learned to manage myself and I have learned to let God use me to be a better me,” he said.
Lilite said that Balthazar has impacted his life in many ways and that teaching him has taught him things as well.
“To be able to mold a voice like Jude’s is a tremendous gift from God,” Lilite said. “I am humbled by the numerous ways God shows me His grace and faithfulness as I teach Jude. I grow more knowledgeable of the craft of voice teaching because of my work with him.”
Balthazar is grateful for what he has learned from Lilite and OBU. He wants people to understand that it was not a short journey that got him her, and that they should be thankful for the opportunities that are available to them.
“The reason why I’m here studying music is because I cannot do it how I wanted in my own country,” Balthazar said. “If I could do it how I wanted in my country, I would stay home and be with my family, but in order to get this you need to lose that.”