Wednesday, February 28, 2018

From Paris to Cuyamaca College, With Love

Wulfran Trenet was a successful composer working in Paris when he learned about Cuyamaca College, moved halfway across the world and enrolled at the Rancho San Diego campus to study the sciences. His life hasn’t been the same since.

After completing his studies at Cuyamaca, Trenet earned a chemical engineering degree from UC San Diego and is now applying to graduate school with hopes of being accepted to Johns Hopkins University. In the meantime, he’s 
Wulfran Trenet
back at Cuyamaca as a tutor working with students studying chemistry, engineering and physics.

“This college means so much to me, and I was missing it even when I was at UCSD,” Trenet said. “I love this campus, I love the location, I love the instructors. So I came back to pass on the knowledge that I learned here. I wanted to pay back what I had received.”

Trenet, 47, had never heard about Cuyamaca College while growing up in Paris and embarking on a successful career as a composer – he’s recorded more than 400 tracks in all – for a company that provides music for television shows, fashion events, movies and more.
The nephew of famed French singer and songwriter Charles Trenet, Trenet said he began to take an interest in neuroscience when his father was battling depression. “When you think about it, music has a lot in common with neuroscience,” Trenet said. “First of all, music is very mathematical – the distance and time between the notes and silences, for example. And the combination of notes in making a chord is very similar in many ways to how atoms combine to make a compound or molecule.”

Trenet was looking to study the sciences when he met a young woman visiting Paris from San Diego. They kept in contact, and when he came to visit, he learned about Cuyamaca College. Ultimately, the couple moved near the Rancho San Diego campus, though Trenet was still spending much, if not most, of his time in France working on his music projects.

“In the end I decided to move here full time, and I started taking classes at Cuyamaca College, first Introduction to Psychology, Physiological Psychology, and then Chemistry 120 with Laurie LeBlanc,” Trenet said. “After I took that chemistry course, I couldn’t stop. That was it. I fell in love with chemistry.”

LeBlanc said Trenet stood out from the beginning.

“Wulfran was one of my best chemistry students ever,” LeBlanc said. “And his labs were fun to grade because his diagrams were works of art.”

Trenet completed the requirements needed to transfer to UC San Diego and earned his bachelor’s degree in 2015. It wasn’t easy. Trenet often returned to France for long stretches to work, and it took a few years to become fluent in English. His dream: return to Cuyamaca yet again after earning a postgraduate degree and teach at the college.

“This is an amazing campus,” Trenet said. “From the artistic point of view, it is very green, the smell of the trees, the hills, the colors. It’s like from a movie. From the educational aspect, the professors are amazingly professional who are extremely devoted and who care about their students to a level that you don’t see anywhere else.”

LeBlanc said she has no doubt Trenet would excel as a Cuyamaca College professor.

“He’s of the best tutors we've ever had because his academic background is so strong,” she said. “But best of all, he is friendly and welcoming to students who may be nervous about asking for help. They all love him.”