An alumna who has gained worldwide fame as an opera singer and a trailblazing Hispanic advocate and journalist will receive honorary doctorates this spring from Cal State Fullerton and serve as keynote speakers for the University’s Commencement 2016 ceremonies May 21 and 22.
Famed soprano Deborah Voigt will serve as keynote speaker Saturday, May 21; Univision anchor María Elena Salinas will keynote the Sunday, May 22, ceremonies. More than 60,000 are expected on campus that weekend for Commencement 2016.
Voigt’s name is synonymous with opera. While a student at Cal State Fullerton, she focused on classical training and opera. Her meteoric rise as an operatic soprano has led to positive reviews from opera critics and fans from around the world. She has delivered definitive performances of iconic operatic roles ranging from Salome to Isolde, and has performed in world-class venues regularly. In the process, she has won numerous awards, honors and recognition throughout the world.
Besides boasting an extensive discography, she appears regularly as both performer and host in the Metropolitan Opera’s “Live in HD” series, which is transmitted live to movie theaters around the world. In 2015, one of Voigt’s most personal projects come to fruition, with HarperCollins’ publication of “Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva.”
Voigt graciously gives of her time, treasure and talent to her alma mater. She has conducted master classes for students, sang at the opening of the Clayes Performing Arts Center, as well as at the dedication ceremony for the School of Music. At the later gala, she announced an endowment in the name of her Cal State Fullerton vocal music professor and mentor, Jane Paul Hummel.
María Elena Salinas
María Elena Salinas anchors Univision’s national newscast “Noticiero Univision” and the weekly primetime newsmagazine “Aquí y Ahora” (Here and Now). Called the “Voice of Hispanic America” by The New York Times, Salinas is one of the most recognized journalists in the United States. Her reputation as a serious, objective and highly trustworthy journalist has garnered her universal respect and allowed her to secure numerous high-profile interviews with prominent global figures, including every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, as well as Latin American heads of state, rebel leaders and influential newsmakers. She has covered natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and the tornados that swept through Oklahoma in 2013, the White House and the war torn streets of Baghdad.
Salinas has received many prestigious recognitions for her distinguished career in broadcast journalism, including: the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the Peabody Award, a Gracies Award for Outstanding Anchor, five national and one regional Emmy Awards, a Walter Cronkite award, an Edward R. Murrow Award, a King of Spain Journalism award, the “Intrepid Award” from NOW, and the 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award in Hispanic Television by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable magazines.
Salinas’ namesake scholarship has been awarded since 2000 to Hispanic journalism students interested in pursuing a career in Spanish-language media. She is also one of the founding members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and sits on the boards of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Among her achievements, she is also a published author. Her memoir titled “Yo soy la hija de mi padre: una vida sin secretos” (“I Am My Father’s Daughter: A Life Without Secrets”) received critical acclaim and made the bestseller lists for Spanish-language books.
The commencement ceremonies begin at 8 a.m. each day on the Cal State Fullerton campus at 800 N. State College Blvd. The University ceremonies with the keynote speakers are open to the public and held outdoors on the athletics fields.