Bailey Hryb, Managing Editor
Last month, Utica College President Laura Casamento released preliminary details for this year’s commencement ceremonies, which will be held partly in person compared to last year, where it was postponed and eventually canceled.
In the statement, one of the main points of discussion was the fact that the undergraduate ceremony would be broken up into multiple smaller ceremonies, consisting of roughly 75-100 attendees, to adhere to public gathering restrictions set in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A staple of many graduation ceremonies across the country is the singing of the National Anthem. Utica College is looking for a musically talented graduating senior to fill this spot for this year’s various commencement ceremonies.
The Student Living and College Engagement (SLCE) office is looking for a graduating member of the student body to be recorded singing the National Anthem to be played at the multiple commencement ceremonies that are scheduled for this coming May. The student must fulfill the number of credits needed to graduate in order to be eligible to audition.
“It’s very simple, [students] just have to schedule time with myself and Fran Lucia from the Commencement Committee to sing the National Anthem song as their audition song, and then the two of us choose a person,” said Assistant Director for Leadership Development Bethany VanBenschoten. “Auditions can be in person – we would find a safe six-foot space – or virtual.”
VanBenschoten detailed that, while there is not a set deadline for students to audition by, her office is looking to fill the spot by mid-April, giving students a couple of more weeks to set up an audition time.
“It is also likely that whoever is chosen will also be singing the UC Alma Mater song, but we will provide sheet music and videos of others singing it so they can practice correctly,” she continued. “The chosen singer does not have to plan on being in person at commencement. Also, the one singer will be recorded and the video and sound will be shared at the other commencement ceremonies.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly affected the way that the commencement ceremonies will be conducted this year, but that is not deterring students from auditioning. Having the choice to audition in-person or online has made it easier for students near and far to test out their singing voice.
“Well, what made me try out was that I grew up singing and I always enjoyed singing the National Anthem,” said Santhyyea Pich, a senior majoring in history. “I’ve sung in crowds before, but I never got a chance to sing for a graduating class and there should be a time for everything right? It would be amazing to be chosen to sing the National Anthem and I would be proud to sing for the school’s commencement – it would be like making history.”
Pich, who has already completed her audition, was excited to even be able to audition and wishes the best of luck to others who are set to try out as well.
“My advice for anyone who is ready to try out would be don’t be nervous because everyone is pretty much rooting for you to do well,” Pich said. “The audience will be small and they have done it for many years. Remember your lines and just go for it. Sing your heart out is what they told me and that’s just what I did.”
Interested students are asked to contact the SLCE office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up an audition, which can be held either in-person or virtually. For more information regarding auditions, as well as lingering questions about the process, students are asked to contact Bethany VanBenschoten (email@example.com), or Fran Lucia (firstname.lastname@example.org).