Name: Sullie Ojala-Helmbolt
Academic path: Graduated in 2017 with a degree in vocal performance at the University of Minnesota School of Music.
How it all started: Ojala-Helmbolt joined a choir in the third grade and has been singing ever since. “One of my high school choir teachers inspired me to the point where music was the only thing that could fulfill me,” he says.
Outside of classes: “Freshman and sophomore years were filled with classes in diction and opera workshops, which is how I got into the opera program,” says Ojala-Helmbolt, a baritone. He was involved in a University Opera Theatre performance every semester.
How scholarships made a difference: A scholarship established by beloved Twin Cities singer and announcer Arnold Walker in memory of his wife, actress and soprano soloist Helen Rice Walker, helped make Ojala-Helmbolt’s studies possible. When Arnold Walker died in 2016, the family asked Ojala-Helmbolt, the first recipient of the Helen Rice and Arnold Walker Scholarship, to sing at his memorial service. “It was a real honor,” he says. “Arnold and Helen were musical luminaries, including being founding members of the Minnesota Opera. I will always be grateful for their support.”
What's next: Sullie Ojala-Helmbolt plans to find work singing, then pursue graduate studies in music.
- Scholarship recipient Contessa Boorman has studied in France, done improv comedy, and chronicled food-truck culture.
- A fellowship in Africa drives a U student to confront world hunger.
- Noah Exum is grateful for scholarships that allowed him to pursue his passion for interior design.
- Music relieves stress and brings people together, says communications major Henry Suong.