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Student Commencement Speaker Shares How the Arts Help Us 'Go On'

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Lisa Rogali

This year, graduating College of Arts and Architecture students heard from one of their own at their May 7 commencement ceremony. Lisa Rogali, an award-winning soprano who received a bachelor’s degree in music education, gave the commencement address, speaking about how the arts help us "go on." Approximately 215 undergraduates received their degrees during the ceremony, where Caleb Yoder served as college marshal.

According to Scott Wing, associate dean for academic affairs and outreach, the commencement speaker committee interviewed five graduating students who had been nominated by faculty. “Lisa Rogali elegantly communicated her personal transformation by her education at Penn State and impressed us with a story worth telling to a much larger audience,” he said. “In discussing the primary ideas she wanted to express, Lisa presented a clear strategy of tying the curative power of singing she has experienced individually with a larger mission of art: to help us, as artists, heal others.” 

Rogali, who will attend the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music to pursue a master’s degree in voice and opera performance, has been an active performer in both opera and musical theatre settings while at Penn State. Some of her Penn State Opera Theatre credits include Elle in La voix humaine, Musetta in La bohème, Blanche de la force in Dialogues of the Carmelites, and Dorabella in Cosi! She has also sung leading roles in Leonard Bernstein’s MASS, produced for the College of Arts and Architecture’s fiftieth anniversary in 2013, and in Stephen Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little for the School of Theatre. This past summer, she performed the roles of Cosette in Les Misérables and Louise in Gypsy in the State College area. This June, she will portray the infamous Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady with State College’s FUSE Productions.

Rogali, a voice student of associate professor Jennifer Trost, has also gained recognition in national and regional competitions. Most recently, she received the Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Pittsburgh. She was named a winner twice at the fall student auditions sponsored by the Allegheny Mountain Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Next, she will compete as a semi-finalist in both the Classical Singer Competition in Boston and the National Competition for Voice in Sarasota.

Rogali was recently named the 2016 recipient of Penn State’s John W. Oswald Award in the creative and performing arts category. Other Penn State awards and scholarships include the School of Music’s Willa C. Taylor Scholarship and Marjorie Jane Brewster Scholarship, which pays for the first year of graduate music study; the College of Arts and Architecture’s Creative Achievement Award and Golumbic Scholarship; and Jury Recognition and Jury Honors. She was a member of the Penn State Concert Choir, as well as a soloist with the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra, the Penn State Philharmonic Orchestra, Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, and more. “I look forward to pursuing my musical endeavors and couldn’t be more thankful for all Penn State has given me,” Rogali said.

Commencement photo gallery