UNMC alum lends her voice to virtual ceremonies

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | May 12, 2020

Image with caption: Cacey Vavra performing the national anthem during this year's virtual commencement ceremonies.

Cacey Vavra performing the national anthem during this year's virtual commencement ceremonies.

We were first going to write that Cacey Vavra has sung the national anthem at two UNMC commencement ceremonies. But, that's not technically true.

She's now sung the national anthem at eight UNMC commencement ceremonies.

Vavra, who is an alumnus of the UNMC College of Allied Health Professions radiography program, and is completing its radiation therapy program in August, gave an acapella performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" for this year's spring 2020 virtual ceremonies. Her singing was streamed for each of UNMC's six colleges, plus graduate studies.

She also performed the national anthem as a graduating student at last year's "live" commencement at Baxter Arena.

This year, "It was a little different," she said. "I was less nervous the second time." (Technically, the second through eighth time.)

"Thousands of people weren't right in front of me."

Instead, like so many of the commencement and convocation speakers, she gave a special, social-distanced performance using the technology available at the Davis Global Center.

"I've never recorded in a recording studio before," she said. "I really liked working with T.J. (Nuckolls, at iEXCEL) and his crew."

Though she could probably now put "official regular UNMC commencement national anthem performer" on her CV, she hasn't done much public singing since high school choir and theater.

But, last year, she jumped at the chance to try out to sing the anthem at UNMC's commencement.

"I've always wanted to sing for an event like that, or at a football game. I thought, this was my shot, I might as well try.

"I ended up finding out I was the only one that auditioned," she said with a laugh.

But when she knocked it out of the park, organizers of this year's virtual ceremonies knew it was a no-brainer to ask her back.

Vavra also has served Nebraska as a member of the Army National Guard for more than five years. "I'm in aviation operations," she said. "I help the helicopter pilots in my unit plan their missions, and keep a record of their flight hours. It's a lot of paperwork."

And quite a few helicopter rides.

She's proud to be serving in the medical imaging and therapeutic sciences.

"I like being with patients," she said. "I wanted to help people. I get to be a face to them that's full of hope, and I get to help them with hard times in their life."


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Fran Higgins
May 12, 2020 at 9:26 AM

Yay, Cacey! Thank you for your performance and your service, and best wishes as you embark on your career!

Tom O’Connor
May 12, 2020 at 9:06 AM

Very cool! Kudos to Cacey!

Robin Taylor
May 12, 2020 at 7:46 AM

Is there a link to Casey Vavra's National Anthem's performance? I would guess I'm not the only who would love to hear it.