Alumna's Bold Voice Brings New Opportunities
“You’re still alive; you’re still here for a reason.”
For Kechi Okwuchi ’15, those words have been a motivating force, propelling her to live boldly and achieve dreams she didn’t know were attainable.
That dream was becoming a finalist on America’s Got Talent: The Champions and earning a golden buzzer from the iconic judge, Simon Cowel.
A Life Changing Plane Ride
At 16, Okwuchi went through one of the most traumatic experiences of her life, a plane crash on her way home for the Christmas break. She was one of 2 survivors from a plane holding approximately 107 people, but her plans to attend the London School of Economics would have to be put on hold.
Okwuchi spent a year in South Africa receiving emergency medical treatment for burns on most of her body before she was brought to Shriners Hospital in Galveston in 2007, where she completed her treatment.
“Coming to America was never in my plans,” Okwuchi said. “I had reasons to go to London. I have family there and the LSA is a prestigious school.”
After deciding to stay in America, she began attending UST where she excelled in economics and was an active participant in Cameron School of Business events.
“Kechi is the kind of student every professor hopes to have in their class—her work ethic is magnificent,” said Dr. Roger Morefield, associate professor of economics. “She’s been through a lot, but her attitude is just so positive, and she’s an ideal student and a good representation of UST’s dedication to building leaders of faith and character.”
The Pursuit of Music
Growing up in a musical family, Okwuchi and her mother would sing together all the time, meant that music was always in her life. Okwuchi always imagined herself onstage but chose the academic route, telling herself that music will not always be sustainable.
Additionally, her voice went through significant changes after the accident.
She began to gain confidence after her father bought her a karaoke machine and would sing at the house all the time. Then, in 2017 she took a bold step and began singing at Church. The decision to pursue music professionally came soon after.
Then she received a call from ABC.
“The goal was not to win, the goal was to get exposure,” Okwuchi said. “I wanted to get feedback from people on the show.”
Okwuchi’s golden buzzer moment has skyrocketed her career—she released her first single, “Don’t You Dare” in 2018, travels as an inspirational speaker and is a burn survivor advocate for multiple burn survivor organizations.
“Nothing extraordinary happens from being comfortable. People need to choose the fear and understand that the best things happen when you jump!”