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Courtesy of Jillian Kardell
Courtesy of Jillian Kardell

What does second-year Anteater Jillian Kardell have in common with Frank Ocean, The Black Keys and Jack White? Like them, she was a nominee at this year’s 55th annual Grammy Awards. Kardell is a member of Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea, whose album, “Oye” was nominated for best regional Mexican or Tejano album this year.

Having played the violin since the third grade, Kardell auditioned for and was accepted into the group in June 2011. This is the group’s fifth Grammy nomination, and in 2009 they were the first all-female mariachi ensemble to be nominated for, and win, a Grammy. This year, the thrilling news came to the Divas while performing at a concert.

“I had my phone on my stand and I kept refreshing the page because they were going to announce nominations that night. The concert just stopped. We were so excited,” Kardell said.

“I passed my phone over and the director went up to the front of the stage and announced it. It was really exciting … it’s still just as exciting. It doesn’t die out when you hear, you know, that you were able to create a product and that it was able to reach such a prestige.”

February 10 was a day full of thrills for the Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea. The group entered the Grammy’s at noon and was immediately thrown onto the red carpet where they participated in interviews and took pictures. Their surroundings were adorned with live performances, other nominees and award announcements. The Divas had the privilege of meeting other groups from a mixture of genres, and after all the fun and commotion they took their seats in the Staples Center.

Out of all the artists that day, one in particular stood out to Kardell.

“I am a huge fan of Adele, and I freaked out. I didn’t actually get to meet her, but, you know, just seeing her walk by was enough for me,” she said.

It must be noted that the allure and esteem of the Grammy’s are not components of a typical day for the Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea. Kardell is ultimately driven in her musical pursuits by her love for the craft.

“I love my job because every day’s different … there’s something new, something fresh. You don’t walk in and play the same things over and over. Our director tries to put out a new CD every year, so there’s always new repertoire. It never gets boring. It’s so much fun and it’s really great knowing that part of your job is just to make other people happy … you just see all these little life moments happen,” she said.

Even though they did not win this year, Kardell is happy to have been part of such a revered experience. The ensemble is currently focused on their ninth album, which they have already begun recording and will be released within the next year.

In terms of UCI, Kardell is just as focused on her career as an Anteater, as she is on her music. She is currently undecided/undeclared but plans to declare an earth system science major and join UCI’s Cal Teach program. In the future, Kardell would like to become a science teacher.

The joy she takes away from playing violin in her musical ensemble is very similar to the variety Kardell enjoys as a UCI student.

“Things can change in an instant. There’s new quarters, new classmates, new friends, new roommates. It’s just the, I guess, the college experience. You get to meet a lot of people, you get to network, you get to explore different fields. I never knew that I wanted to be an earth science major until I came here and took an earth science class. You find out a lot about yourself as well. You discover what kind of habits you have now that you’re thrown out on your own and people aren’t putting you on their schedule. You get to kind of figure out what you like, what you don’t. You can kind of figure out what kind of lifestyle you want to move into.”

Whether you see this article as an interesting tidbit of UCI trivia, and inspiration or a testament to the fact that we attend a diverse and prestigious university, one thing is clear: it’s not every 20-year-old who can say they are a Grammy-nominated musician. You too can have dreams. You too can work hard. You too can achieve the beautiful scenarios you create in your mind. I love you. ZOT!

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