Class of 2002 Profile





Margie Yu
Public Affairs Spec.
(323) 343-3047


of Events

Class of 2002
Vanessa Sheldon: Harpist is Youngest
Graduate Student at 17

Harpist Vanessa Sheldon, 17, Cal State L.A.’s youngest 2002 master’s degree candidate, completed her undergraduate studies in music last year (in three years), her master’s degree in one year, and has received a teaching assistantship in a world-renowned harp program.

In September 1998, academically and musically talented Vanessa Sheldon (Rancho Palos Verdes resident) entered Cal State L.A. as a thirteen-year-old undergraduate. Excelling in a “unit-intensive” music program, Vanessa graduated in June 2001— less than three years later—with a bachelor of music degree and acceptance in three music masters programs: USC, University of Arizona and Cal State L.A.

Choosing to continue at Cal State L.A., Vanessa has again achieved the extraordinary, earning her master of music degree in one year, with a perfect 4.0 GPA. She was awarded her graduate degree in Cal State L.A.’s 55th Commencement exercises on Saturday, June 15, having only just recently turned seventeen.

A top student who was already attending high school at twelve, Vanessa was able to enter Cal State L.A. through the University’s Early Entrance Program (EEP) that enables gifted youngsters to participate fully in college life. She calls EEP one of the “most wonderful experiences of my life...and lots of fun, too.”

In her first year at Cal State L.A., Vanessa received the General Education (GE) Honors Program “Entering Freshman” Scholarship, the Early Entrance Program Freshman of the Year Award, and the Outstanding Freshman Award from Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society—the largest academic honor society in the nation open to students in all academic disciplines. By May 2001 she had been selected as the chapter's runner-up for the honor society’s top graduate fellowship award. In the short time she has been a graduate student, Vanessa was selected as a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar, a significant CSU fellowship.

Vanessa has been a professional concert harpist for the last five years, has performed in ensembles and at numerous social events throughout Southern California, and has taught the concert and Celtic harp since 1997. She performs extensively with the Cal State L.A. New Music Ensemble, is a member of the Venice Youth Pops Orchestra, the South Bay Youth Orchestra, the American Harp Society and the Los Angeles Harp Society, and has appeared as guest soloist with the Whittier String Ensemble, the La Mirada Symphony, and the American Harp Society Honorary Recital at UCLA.

Last year, she was invited to play at the Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education at UC Santa Cruz. She has performed for residents at nursing homes throughout the Los Angeles area, and is active in a variety of other community services.

Vanessa’s goal has been set for years—she intends to be a professional harpist and teacher. This fall, she will be entering the University of Arizona’s School of Music and Dance, where she will be working toward a D.M.A. (Doctorate of Musical Arts) in Harp Performance.

The University of Arizona harp program—one of the largest and most successful in the United States—includes HarpFusion, the largest touring harp ensemble in the world, performing in the U.S. and internationally. Vanessa will be teaching assistant to noted harpist Carrol McLaughlin, professor of harp, director of the university’s harp studio and of HarpFusion, and coordinator of the string area in the School of Music and Dance. Vanessa was also awarded an additional scholarship from the university’s music department.


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