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Opera Sensation Ana María Martínez Headlines Commencement 2022

Grammy Award® winner Ana María Martínez
Grammy Award® winner Ana María Martínez

Such an unforgettable day. Students in their caps and gowns watched and listened intently to their once-in-a-lifetime program, which did not disappoint. The keynote speaker for the 2022 University of St. Thomas Commencement was opera sensation and commanding Grammy Award® winner Ana María Martínez. She is an internationally heralded singer of opera and one of the foremost sopranos of her time. Martínez’s concert and recording career is formidable. She has taken the stage at the most important opera houses and concert halls in the world. 

A New & Important Role for Martínez

But from the commencement stage on May 14, 2022, she would play a different yet vital role. The acclaimed performer would celebrate the achievements of, and help to launch, 531 undergraduate students and 444 graduate students. 

During her address, Martínez inspired graduates to pursue their dreams by sharing the priceless lessons she learned from her parents. The vocal artist’s father traveled to the United States from Cuba in 1960 and became a psychoanalyst. Her mother from Puerto Rico established a career stateside as an opera singer. 

A Spiritual Woman’s Advice 

Raised in a loving Catholic home and educated in the Catholic School system, she searches for deeper meaning in work, family and nature. The Houston resident and Houston Grand Opera Studio alumna is passionate about education. She has generously given her time to speak with and inspire students at various schools around the country. The Juilliard alumna believes that each individual is blessed with many gifts. It is her advice that it is the responsibility of the individual to identify the one gift through which they can reach their highest potential and devote their lives to doing so. Martínez believes that we are all a work in progress.

Acknowledging that a UST education produces well-rounded, multi-faceted individuals, she said, “These UST graduates are ready for a career and life.” 

Honorary Degree

Dr. Herbert P. Edmundson, Jr. ’69, M.D., Ph.D

University of St. Thomas presented an honorary doctorate to alumnus, Life Director and past Board Chair Dr. Herbert P. Edmundson, Jr. ’69, M.D., Ph.D. The recognition was for unwavering commitment to his alma mater.

Edmundson, a neurologist with a thriving practice at Memorial Neurological Association, has supported St. Thomas with his time, talent and philanthropic giving. He served on the Board from 1999 to 2020 and as chair from 2014 to 2019. Edmundson has been honored as a Life Director to the Board of Directors.

The honorary doctorate award is another way to celebrate the University’s dear friend. In 2018, UST’s Donald S. Nesti, CSSp Center for Faith & Culture, recognized Edmundson with its Faithful Citizenship Award. 

Class of 2022

Michaella Maniscalo ’22
Michaella Maniscalo ’22

Michaella Maniscalo ’22, student body president, honor student and former president of Celts for Life, took the stage as Commencement student speaker. Her presentation, “Celebrating Who We Were Made to Be,” reflected on St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s prayer. 

Maniscalo quoted and explained, “’Jesus, help me simplify my life by learning what you want me to be and becoming that person.’ Through education, friendship and mentorship at UST, graduates have been formed to discern who they were made to be.”

Sharing more about the accomplished Maniscalo, she graduated with a BBA in Economics and a minor in Philosophy. Furthermore, she was chosen as one of 16 students in the nation to receive the prestigious Röpke-Wojtyła fellowship.  

“I am incredibly grateful for the gift of my education from UST,” Maniscalo said. “From the moment I arrived at UST, I knew that my professors and classmates cared about my growth. I have been challenged in my classes, encouraged by my friends and given opportunities to serve the University through various leadership positions.” 

About the Author — Jamie Roark

AvatarJamie Roark is an experienced, Houston-based content creator & communications skills coach. Through her company, Simply Communicate USA, she especially enjoys helping Higher Education and healthcare organizations to tell stories that inform and influence.

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