• Maureen Rendon

First-year student Maureen Rendon ’21 started playing the piano as a toddler growing up in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. In middle school she continued to develop her talent after moving across the border to Laredo. Her older sister Sandra played the violin and studied under Yu-Mei Huang, a music professor at Texas A&M International University. Yu-Mei Huang also taught piano, so Maureen studied under her as well.

Before long, Maureen and her sister began performing together at cultural events, festivals and with the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra. In the eighth grade, Yu-Mei Huang encouraged her to enter the American Protégé International Competition, where she was selected as a finalist and invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. All this before she was even 15 years old!

Maureen’s love for the piano is evident when she plays. She feels at peace, and confesses that she rarely gets nervous before a recital. “Playing is an outlet. When I’m at the piano I can escape from everything else. I don’t have to worry about homework or tests or whatever else is on my mind.” She often practices on the Steinway in the Caldwell Carvey Foyer of the Alma Thomas Fine Arts Building. Sometimes she loses track of time. She jokes, ”My friends will tell me I look tired and should get some sleep, but I don’t want to stop playing!”

The Fine Arts Building is her favorite place on campus. She feels at home there, and loves to study for her other classes with the faint sound of a piano, violin or cello in the background (she also plays the cello as a secondary instrument). “Everyone is so nice. The students are friendly, and the professors take the time to really get to know you. They not only care about your academic success, but they’re genuinely interested in you as a person. I realize that’s not the case everywhere. I’m so glad I came to Southwestern.”

The feeling is mutual. Kiyoshi Tamagawa, professor of music and Maureen’s primary piano instructor, describes Maureen as “an intelligent person and a sensitive musician. Due to her multinational background she has had experiences beyond those of many entering Southwestern students. She is a fine addition to the campus community and I look forward to continuing to work with her!”

Maureen believes that music has the ability to bring people together. She has a strong desire to help and unite others, which is the reason double majoring was so important to her.

This past summer, Maureen worked as an intern for Congressman Cuellar in the Laredo District Office. The experience further ignited her passion for international studies and government. Living and working in a border town, she’s seen firsthand how immigration issues can impact and tear apart families. She was exposed to heartbreaking violence, drug cartels, gun shootings, and more. She has a deep love for her mother country, and wants to help others have the chance to pursue opportunities and succeed.

Ultimately Maureen would love to travel and participate in mission trips. She’d like to study abroad during college, possibly in Spain or Argentina. She’s also interested in government, so an internship in Washington, D.C. is a strong possibility, too. In fact, it seems the sky’s the limit for Maureen. Whatever lies ahead for her, we have no doubt that she’ll use her talents to unite others.