Finding Family in Opera

Growing up the youngest of six children, Mailee Halpin spent a lot of time alongside her mother and a piano. “My mom is a really fabulous singer,” she says. “From the time I was really little, I would do everything I could to mimic her voice and try to become as good as she was.”

Throughout her childhood, Mailee performed in several different community theater productions. Even though neither of her parents graduated from college, Mailee decided to pursue a career in music after she graduated from high school. “I auditioned at a college close to my home and got accepted into the program,” she says, “But ultimately I didn’t feel happy there.”

Mailee decided to look into UVU. “I was looking for more of a family feel instead of a competitive environment, and I’ve found that at UVU,” she says. “All the students are rooting for each other to succeed. Never once have I felt competitiveness get in the way of being kind and supportive.”

Coming to UVU as a transfer student, Mailee was disappointed she missed the auditions to be a part of the opera program’s production of Die Fledermaus. So she was surprised when she received a call from UVU’s director of opera asking if she’d be interested in joining the production. “After auditioning, they offered me the role of Adele,” she says. “I was so shocked. They believed in me — a transfer student. I felt like I had finally found a place where I fit, and it was so rewarding.”

“I always viewed college as a place to become a doctor or lawyer,” Mailee says. “I never considered it as a way to pursue something I was passionate about.” Now that she is graduated, Mailee plans to combine both teaching and performing into her career. “Community theater is where I fell in love with singing and acting as a kid,” she says. “I want to open my own studio focused on teaching acting through song — helping young actors learn to express true emotion through music.”