Though she is too young to vote and still is not allowed to drive, Promise Paulden is already embarking on her second year of studies at Virginia Wesleyan. Paulden, born in 1996, enrolled at the college when she was just 15 years old.
“I chose Virginia Wesleyan because this is the place I know I am supposed to be,” said Paulden. “I feel that all of my prayers were answered coming here. I am very grateful for the fact that they accepted me not looking at my age, but at my academic achievements. And the music program here is amazing.”
Homeschooled since the fifth grade, Paulden has consistently been two years ahead of her peers academically and considers her early transition into college a natural one.
“I felt like I needed to take the opportunity as it was handed to me, and not put college off until the future,” said Paulden, a sophomore with plans to major in music. “God wanted me to be here.”
From seeing Paulden around campus and in the classroom, most students would not expect her to be just 17 years old. Walking with a bow neatly secured in her hair and a backpack brimming with books, Paulden emanates the confidence and maturity of any other college student. However, there is one noteworthy difference for this Newport News commuter—she still only has a learner’s permit.
“We are working on it! One of my main goals this winter is to get my license,” said Paulden. “My parents drive me to classes. It’s a big sacrifice and I am really appreciative.”
Paulden, an only child, acknowledges the support of her parents as part of her success. They prompted her to be homeschooled before coming to college, and have encouraged her throughout her education.
The biggest adjustment to college life has been the workload, said Paulden. The majority of her classes are in the music department, and this has been a change from the broader subjects she studied while homeschooled. Paulden has been playing the violin since she was three years old.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into!” said Paulden with a laugh. Paulden noted that being graded on something she is so used to doing has made it more serious.
When asked what her favorite course has been so far, Paulden had trouble deciding on just one course.
“My ‘World of Music’ class was the first music class that I took here, and they always say you remember your first!” said Paulden, referring to a course taught by Jordan-Anders. “That class was amazing. It opens the world of music to you. It really sparked my interest into wanting to study music from [all around] the world.”
Paulden is passionate about music and hopes to further her musical education after graduation, possibly through international travel and graduate school. She has a special interest in how music works in different societies, and also in understanding various musical styles and cultures.
“Her violin playing is really excellent, particularly for someone her age,” said Jordan-Anders. “She performed in another student’s senior piano recital last year, playing Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ sonata. She played beautifully, sensitively and with maturity that belies her young age.”
With plans to graduate in the spring of 2016, Paulden’s next step is declaring her major in music. She hopes to focus on sacred music studies, and if all goes according to her plan, she will be just 19 years old when she walks across the stage at commencement. Until then, Promise is living day-to-day like most other college students, enjoying her time both in and out of the classroom.
“It is a joy to have Promise in the music department,” said Jordan-Anders. “She always has a smile on her face and brings a sparkle to every room she enters.”