On Sunday, December 4th, AMU alumna Regina Russo will sing the national anthem before the NFL matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Denver Broncos in in her hometown of Jacksonville, FL. Tune in to watch Regina sing before the game at 12:45 EST.
Regina graduated from Ave Maria University in 2016 with a major in Music and a minor in Theology. She says the opportunity to sing for an NFL game just fell into her lap. “It honestly was so random,” she remarks, looking back on how it transpired. Over the summer, Regina and fellow AMU alumnus Roman Samuels (’13) released a cover of the song “Latch” by Disclosure. The video was a success, quickly being shared by friends, and then friends of friends. “One thing led to another,” she explains, “and it ended up in the hands of an agent, who then contacted me via Facebook.” The agent had connections with the Jaguars staff, and asked if she’d be interested in performing for a game. “I of course said YES!” she exclaims. Things moved forward from there, culminating in Regina’s performance of the national anthem at this Sunday’s Jaguars vs. Broncos game.
Regina currently teaches second grade at Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, FL. She always was interested in teaching, but ever since starting this year, she has fallen in love with the job—so much so, that she is looking into pursuing a graduate degree in Reading Education. “Watching the light bulb flicker and turn on as someone begins to understand how to read and write has brought me more joy than I thought possible,” she shares.
While she was a student at Ave Maria University, Regina balanced a quantity of extracurricular activities. A musician and performer at heart, she sang with the AMU Choir for all four years. She was also a cast member of and musical director for AMU’s acting troupe, Shakespeare in Performance. Regina was a founding member of the Women’s Lacrosse team, and she was part of the women’s household, the Sisterhood of Mary Magdalene. With such a wealth of campus involvement, it’s no wonder that Regina won the 2016 St. Thomas Aquinas Award for Balance and Eutrapelia.
Since graduating, Regina has continued her interest and involvement in a diverse array of activities. Besides teaching second grade at Donahue Academy, she teaches piano, flute and voice at Groove Culture Music School in Naples, FL. She is assistant coach for the AMU Cheerleading team, and she continues to develop her musical talent as a freelance musician. At the moment, Regina is working on recording her first CD. “This album has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and I am thrilled to finally have this dream come true.” The album will feature six original songs, and is set to be released in April 2017.
As her performance on Sunday approaches, Regina has learned to calm her nerves. “I was very nervous for a while,” she says. “Thinking about the prospect of singing for 70,000+ is daunting and overwhelming.” But her grandmother gave her a word of advice that has helped her prepare for the big day. She said to Regina: “God says that His grace is sufficient for us. He gives us the grace to serve Him at exactly the moment that we need it. When you open your mouth to sing, God’s grace will be present. Don’t worry now about the grace He has not yet given, because it is not yet time!” Those powerful words of trust in the Lord have kept Regina from being overrun with nerves in the days leading up to her performance. “Though I’m sure there’s going to be a pit in my stomach as I walk onto that field!” she jokes in an aside.
Looking back on her time at AMU, Regina says that she was given different eyes with which to view the world. “I see the world so much differently now … I see with clarity and with a heart wide open to the possibilities that God has in store for me. I see with hope and with hands ready to shape a better world. I see with love and a gentle rejection of mediocrity in anything I do. I (try to) see the best in every person, even when he or she is showing me his worst. I see that there is Truth even in the smallest things or occurrences in life and that God is everywhere – if I have the eyes to spot him.”
As a graduate of the Theology program, she is particularly grateful for what she learned from AMU Theology professors Dr. Michael Dauphinais and Dr. Michael Waldstein. “There was not a single day that I didn’t look forward to going to their class and there was not a single day that I didn’t walk out of class pondering some deep facet of the metaphysical universe or the human being as an altogether unique manifestation of the love of God,” she says. “Both of these men, in completely unique ways…literally just radiate the love and the truth of God in a visible way.” Regina recalls being astounded by the wealth of knowledge that these professors held and shared with their students. They helped shape her vision of the world into what it is today.
Looking forward, Regina is hopeful for a life filled with the pursuit of all her passions. But she also has a realistic picture. “What I’ve come to realize,” she explains, “is that life changes all the time and the path we walk constantly shifts.” She wants to do it all—have a life filled to the brim with family and love and music and adventure—but most importantly, she says, “I’ll be thankful for whatever I get to do.”
Don’t forget to catch Regina’s performance of the national anthem on Sunday, December 4th, before the Jaguars vs. Broncos game!