The Catholic University of America

Meet our Student Ambassadors

Our Student Ambassadors are a unique group of outstanding students who help prospective students and their families gain valuable insight into life in the School of Music at The Catholic University of America. They are here to share their love of CUA and the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, share their personal experiences, and answer any questions you may have from the student perspective.

If you have any questions, please email and indicate which ambassador you feel would be the best contact for you. Someone will be in touch soon!

Alexandra LaMastra

Major: Piano Performance
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2018
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

About Me: I am from a western suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, very close to Valley Forge. I have been playing piano for the past 10 years and have always been an avid music lover. Before coming to CUA, I was homeschooled and was able to learn and enjoy playing both piano and violin. I am so very grateful to be able to be a part of the CUA community by being involved in campus ministry, the honors program and the music school! I plan on graduating with a BM degree in Piano Performance and continue my studies through the doctorate level. Eventually, I hope to have a career performing and teaching at the college level. 

Why I Love CUA: So far, my experience at CUA of being able to combine my faith, music and overall education has exceeded my hopes and expectations. I felt at home as soon as I stepped on campus mostly because of the strong sense of community. I've found both the professors and students to be unbelievably supportive – they never cease to inspire me! Through the music school, I have discovered a very special community of people who are both talented and passionate about what they do and believe. I have been able to learn about and get to know so many different people both inside and outside my major who have led me to a much greater appreciation of music than I ever thought I could have!  I love the CUA campus, the friendly environment, and the many opportunities to get involved.  I can't say enough about how happy I am with my choice, especially with the music program - I absolutely love it here and I can't wait to see what the future holds.

Fun Facts: My favorite composer is Franz Liszt and I love all things Dante and Tolkien! When not practicing, I enjoy traveling (one of my dreams is to visit all 7 continents), movies, classical music, the beach, reading, writing and spending time with friends and family. I also enjoy participating in the homeless food runs and the 9PM Sunday Mass at St. Vinny's. If you have any questions about the audition process or about what it is like at CUA in general, feel free to ask me because I love to talk about it!  


Emma Cooley

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2018
Hometown: Ellicott City, MD  

About me: I am from Ellicott City, Maryland (20 minutes from Baltimore), which is 45 minutes away from campus. I have studied dance since the age of three. I was "bit" by the musical theatre "bug" when I was in the third grade as a part of a production of "Annie." I haven't been able to stop dancing, singing, and acting ever since. I chose to study musical theatre and chase after my dreams because I could not imagine doing anything else! It is what I love to do, and I want to make a career out of it.

Why I chose CUA: I chose CUA because their musical theatre program is unique. I get to work on becoming a musician on top of dancing, acting, and singing, which I think is important for the professional world. For example, if I got a callback for a show and was handed music that I needed to prepare within a few hours, I would need to be able to sight read it and play it in order to learn the notes. Because CUA's program requires all students to complete a series of courses in music theory and become proficient in piano, I would be prepared with the necessary skills.

Why I love CUA: I love CUA because there is a great sense of community throughout the music school. Not only do I belong to a great musical theatre family, but I belong to a great music school family. It is nice that everyone gets to meet people outside of their major since everyone takes music theory and is a part of an ensemble in the school of music. Also, there are many opportunities to be involved in the school's productions, whether it is being a part of the cast, crew, or orchestra. From my experience of being in "Carousel," I grew close to my fellow cast members, along with others from the music school on crew and in the orchestra since we were spending a lot of time together during rehearsals. It creates a close community where everyone feels involved and included.

Other campus activities: I am a company member of Pure Alignment, the student-run dance company on campus.

Fun facts: I love Starbucks. You can probably find me there every morning before class (I reached the gold rewards status because of it... oops). I love tap dance. I could do it all day long! Pierogies are my favorite food, but my favorite kind of food is German food. During high school, I was a part of the Madrigals choir, and we wore Renaissance outfits during all of our performances. We even went caroling in them! I also attended the Rockette Summer Intensive for three years before coming to CUA.


Kenneth Lautz

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2018
Hometown: Bantam, CT

About me: I'm a Musical Theatre major from Bantam, CT. I fell in love with musical theatre, and music in general, during my freshman year of high school. From then on, I knew that I wanted to go into music because it became my passion and my love.

Why I chose CUA: I ultimately chose CUA because they have a phenomenal music program and even at my audition, I felt a very familial environment. Since coming to CUA, I have definitely become a part of a family, and I can say that my life would be empty without them. The MT department has become a great home away from home and I would not trade the friends that I have made for anything.  

Other activities: Outside of the MT department and the Music School, I am in Redline, one of the a cappella groups on campus. I am also in the University's Honors program, and I work in the Costume Shop.



Cara Jestes

Major: Voice Performance
Year: Freshman, Class of 2019
Hometown: Palm Coast, FL

About me: I am from a small town in Florida called Palm Coast and have been performing since I was in second grade. On top of loving to sing, I also love to swim and was a member of my high school's Varsity Swim Team for four years! I am a major classical music junkie and am pursuin a degree in Vocal Performance.

Why you love CUA: I toured many schools but none made me feel as at home as I did at CUA. The campus is absolutey beautiful and the location in DC makes it easy to take a "tourism day" and wander the Smithsonians. I also fell in love with CU because the music school is absolutely phenomenal. Everyone is so warm and inviting and I already find my fellow music students to be one big family!

Fun Facts: I absolutely love French Toast and the color purple! I also love to snowboard and do Polar Bear swims! In addition to my love for Opera, I also love Musicals and performed in them every year of high school.


Wyatt Dylan Thompson

Major: Vocal Performance
Year: Freshman, Class of 2019
Hometown: Lincoln University, PA

About Me: I am from Lincoln University, PA, approximately 45 minutes from Wilmingon, Delaware. I started my artistic journey as a visual artist, working in ceramics and mixed media. I now work with visual design and large scale acrylics. Through working with performance art, I discovered a deeper love for music via my high school choral director. I have now plunged into my musical commitments for a mere 2-3 years. Within this time, I have enjoyed my fair shair of musical theatre and opera, spot-light and ensemble roles, as well as on-stage and behing the scenes. After learning to love all aspects of performance, I finally settled on my major- Vocal Perforance. Even still, my musical curiosity continues to grow in conducting, theory, and teaching. Though I do not know what is to come after CUA, I plan to pursue music at a doctoral level, be it performance of something else.

Why I chose music: I chosed music because it is a direct line to the soul and our eternal being. Music connects us all, in the present and the past. Music, sound, and communication has grown with us through thousands of years and will continue to evolve. I believe our job as musicians is to always create something new, and/or reimagine the pasy. By doing so, we learn a little something more about the music, and about ourselves. Music is my way to always grow.

Why I chose CUA: The easy answer is, "Why not?", but for a short response all I can say is that it's just right; not too hot, not too cold. CUA is a loving, caring, and accepting communicty. I have not met one person I wouldn't say hello to again. No matter your major, no etter your year, and no matter your beliefs, everyone is an equal and everyone is treated as a professional, especially in the School of Music. Paraphrasing a conversation with a proessor, we discussed that the students are students in the classroom and performers n stage, though we are at different skill levels, we are treated and expected to as as professionals, in both our art and the way in which we carry ourselves. Although this may seem like a lot of pressure, it opens a door for teacher-student relationships in which we are not just student and teacher, but colleagues and atrists.

Other activities: When not in the School of Music, I enjoy running (cross-country and track), reading, and meditating. My love for silent worship/meditation comes from my religious roots; I was raised Quaker (and no, not the oates, although they are tasty)!

Victoria Corona

Major: Music Education (General-Choral)
Year: Senior, Class of 2016 (transfer)
Hometown:  Derwood, MD

About me: My name is Victoria Corona. I am a transfer student at The Catholic University of America. I am a Music Education Major with a concentration in Choral Music.

Why music: Since elementary school, I have been involved in music. It wasn't until middle school that I found a true passion. That was due to an amazing middle school choral teacher.

Why I chose CUA: I choose CUA for a number of reasons. The main one being the family significance the Basilica and the school had to my family, but also the beautiful campus.

Why I love CUA: I love CUA, and more specifically the school of music, for the students and staff. I have found numerous friends here as well as interesting professors.

Fun Facts: I sang with the National Philharmonic Chorale at Strathmore for three seasons; I love to salsa dance! And I speak Spanish fluently.

Carson Collins

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Freshman, Class of 2019
Hometown: Edwardsburg, MI

About me: I'm from a village in Michigan called Edwardsburg. It's called a village because it's too small to be considered a town. I have been involved with music and musical theater for the past eight years. Choosing to go into music was a relatively easy decision for me because I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life.

Why I love CUA: I auditioned for CUA online and after my acceptance came, I visited the school and immediately fell in love with the atmosphere that the campus provides.

Why I chose CUA:I chose CUA because it gives a conservatory style program while still allowing us to pursue other avenues if we wish to do so.

My favorite thing about CUA: The best thing about CUA is definitely the people. We are truly one big family in the music school. It is always reassuring to know that if I ever needed help, I would be able to go to anyone to find it.

Fun facts: I once accidentally set off all the alarms in the Eiffel Tower.


Rebecca Nisco

Major: Composition (piano principle)
Year: Freshman, Class of 2019
Hometown: Wilton, CT

About Me: I am from a small town in Connecticut called Wilton and have been playing piano for 13 years. Music has always been a part of my life and I have never imagined pursuing anything different. I am always inspired by my surroundings and the people that I love. In fact, that is one of the main reasons I decided to pursue composition. I have been composing since I was ten years old and I could not imagine my life without having an outlet like composing. It helps me get through anything! Besides piano and composition, I have been singing and playing violin for ten years. Although music is a major part of my life, I also love to cook, read, and hang out with my family, friends, and my adorable tabby cat, Chelsea.

Why I chose music: I have been inspired by many people in my life. It is my dream to give inspiration and confidence to others. My music teachers instilled a confidence in me that I never knew I had with music- they helped me to realize that my passion can be used for so much more than myself. My parents hae been my biggest supporters on my musical journey. They always made sure that my siblings and I were cultured- we were always in New York City, going to museums, seeing orchestras, and going to the occasional ballet. My parents have given me the greatest education I could ever ask for. It is their lessons that have given me an awareness of the world to feed my inspiration for my music. I believe music can truly heal people- it brings us together. My goal in life is to bring inspiration to others and give the same opportunities I have been given, and I believe that is possible through music.

Why I chose CUA: From the first time I stepped foot on campus, I fell in love with CUA. I loed that it was a big campus in an even bigger city. I love DC, and there are so many amazing opportunities here! When I went to the music school, I fell in love with the nurturing environment  and how welcoming everyone was, including the teachers. The faculty here are absoutely amazing. They are so knowedgeable of their field and truly want the best for all of their students! I have learned so much from them already. When visiting, I never experienced a more welcoming and kind student body- they were all so nice and willing to help.

Fun Facts: My great, great uncles carved the Lincoln Memorial, and I LOVE Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy (I am a Netflix junkie).


Elizabeth Andrew

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2018
Hometown: Holland, MI

Why I chose/love CUA: Right from the beginning CUA caught my eye. I am constantly surrounded by people who inspire me to be a better person, and a better performer. From the faculty to the student body, CUA is one large and loving community that everyone feels welcomed into the moment they walk on campus. On top of all that, the musical theatre training that I am receiving at this school is preparing me for the life I want to lead. I am being trained by professionals who are out in the community working as well. It is as if I am at a small conservatory with room to explore other classes if I so desire! 

Fun Fact: Even though musical theatre is my passion and I love dancing, singing and dressing up, I am also a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. So don't let anyone tell you that theatre kids aren't tough! I am also a HUGE fan of naps. If there was a napping Olympics, you could bet your bottom dollar I would take gold!?


Chris Gleason

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Freshmen, Class of 2019
Hometown: Wyomissing, PA

About me: I live in Wyomissing, PA, about two and a half hours away from CUA. I started doing theatre sophomore year of high school and now I can't think of doing anything else as a career.

Why I chose CUA: I chose CUA because of the strong sense of community and the fantastic program. During the audition process I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. In the midst of all the stress and anxiety, CUA made me feel welcome. 

Why I love CUA: I love everything I'm involved in here and everyone is extremely talented. The faculty is great too! Also, we live in DC! There is a huge amount of opportunities for theatre here.

Fun Facts: I was born in Grand Juntion, Colorado and have three sisters named Erica, Elaina, and Grace

Meredith Eib

Major: Musical Theater
Year: Junior, Class of 2017
Hometown: Kingston, New Hampshire

About Me:  Originally from the Seacoast of New Hampshire (about an hour north of Boston), I’m loving my experiences in DC and studying what I love at CUA!  I’ve had a wide range of performing experiences from singing at televised NASCAR races, to performing “The Prayer” with singer Josh Groban, to being a local titleholder for the Miss America Organization.  In addition to performance, I love to play the piano, celebrate my faith and volunteer for service projects in our community.  In the summer, I work for a repertory theater in New Hampshire, directing and creating children’s theater and teaching various workshops on the different aspects of music and theater performance.  After my time here at CUA, I hope to spend some time doing long-term service and work towards a graduate degree so that I can teach at the secondary school level; ideally building a music and theater program at a school that doesn’t have one. 

Why I chose CUA: I chose CUA because it was the only school that met my wide range of interests. I feel like I am getting incredible training musically, I am part of a community, I am able to take classes outside of my major, be actively involved with my faith and serve the community in a wide range of ways. I only toured here for two hours on a cold, rainy February day during my junior year but when making the college decision, it was the only school that was sticking on my mind and heart. 

Why I love CUA: So far, I love CUA because I am able to work with incredibly talented people every day who constantly push me and inspire me to improve my own art yet I am also with people who are incredible examples of faith and what it means to be a good friend. I am constantly in awe of the wide range of amazing people and experiences I have here at CUA.

Fun facts: In addition to spending approximately 30 hours a week in the classroom as an MT major, I have fallen in love with the many communities and on campus groups at CUA.  I was a member of CUA’s Freshman Retreat Team, I spend my Wednesday nights with the mentally handicapped at Bethlehem House and am a current buddy through CUA’s Best Buddies chapter, I love to visit the elderly at Little Sisters of the Poor, and share my faith with my dorm’s Renew Group.  I am a certified campus ambassador for Catholic Relief Services and love working for social justice causes on campus.  I also love to cantor at Sunday Mass!  

Alexandra De Bard

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2018
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY

About me: My name is Alexandra De Bard and I am a Freshman Musical Theatre major! I LOVE CUA!

Why I chose CUA: I have always loved doing Musical Theatre and when I was looking for a place to grow in my craft, I knew immediately that CUA was the place to do just that. Everyone is so supportive and close, and the faculty here is unlike any other. CUA also offers so many opportunities to explore other campus activities outside your major. 

Other activities: I am a member of Redline Acappella!

John Finbar Kantor

Major: Bachelor of Arts in Music, Double Major in Economics
Year: Sophomore Class of 2018
Hometown: Scarsdale, NY

About Me: I am a A student persuing a double major in Economics. I am from Scarsdale, NY (right above NYC). I am the second oldest of seven children, and everyone in my amily plays an instrument. I chose to study music because it has always been a large part of my life. I wanted to continue something that I enjoyed.

Why I chose CUA: I chose to study at CUA because of its Catholic identity, and also for its location in our nation's capitol. Going to school in D.C. is one of the best parts about CUA. There is always something going on, or a new adventure to stumple upon.

Other activities: In addition to my involvement in the School of Music, I am a member of the CUA Men's Ultimate Frisbee team an I have been described, by my friends, as a "personal role model for adventures". In addition to classical violin, I play traditional Irish fiddle and have competed internationally.

Fun Facts: I own a wooden pheasant named Jose, I helped a friend destory a folding chair in the name of art, and, for Spring break, my friend and I took a 15-hour car trip to Georgia in the pursuit of whitewater kayaking.



Leanna Pizzo

Major: Music Education (General-Choral)
Year: Senior, Class of 2016
Hometown: Brookfield, CT

Why music education: I chose to study music education because some of the most influential people in my life have been my music teachers. I want to inspire students like my music teachers have always inspired me.  

What I love about CUA: Being in the music school has challenged me to becoming a better musician while also helping me grow as a person. At CUA there is opportunity for everyone both on and off campus; always something going on and always something to do!  

Other activities: Outside of the music school I am on the rugby team and work in the Centennial Village residence hall Office. 


Audrey Enright

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Sophomore, Class of 2018
Hometown: St. Louis, MO 

About Me: I am from St. Louis, Missouri and am a freshman at CUA getting my Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre. Since the age of three, I have loved singing and dancing—specifically performing on our family room coffee table. I began doing musicals in sixth grade and have never stopped since. Besides theatre, I have been playing piano since age seven and am an endorphin junky. I love to run and go to yoga when I have free time.  

Why I Chose CUA: I fell in love immediately with the conservatory style of CUA's program. I love how almost all of my classes are centered around music or dance, yet I can still have the option to try classes outside of my major. I also really love how I can pursue a musical degree but still get to experience the typical college life. But, the main reason I chose it was the sense of family you get the moment you walk on campus. Within a week of going here, I already had found my place and felt like I fully belonged to this wonderful family away from home.

Morgan Kelleher

Major: Musical Theatre
Year: Freshman, Class of 2019
Hometown: Mountainside, NJ 

About Me: I’m from Mountainside, NJ (which is about a half hour from New York City) and I went to a performing arts high school where I majored in Theatre, so I’m lucky to have been very exposed to the arts. Performing, especially singing and acting, is my passion, which is why I’m pursuing a degree in Musical Theatre — I couldn’t picture my life without it!  

Why I Chose/Love CUA: I was drawn to CUA mainly (besides its top-notch music program) because of the amazing students and faculty — everyone truly supports and cares about each other, which makes being here feel like home away from home. Also, there are so many fantastic opportunities that going to CUA and being in DC offers you!

Fun Facts: I competitively Irish Step danced for 13 years, and rapelled off the side of a castle in Assisi, Italy!