UST Mardi Gras Gala "Carnival" Raises Over $1.4M for Scholarships
The 69th annual University of St. Thomas “Carnival” Mardi Gras Scholarship Gala kicked off with a festive, rousing Second Line—an opening procession that snaked through the crowd of revelers in true Mardi Gras fashion. Students and supporters waved white UST towels while spinning colorful parasols as they processed into the packed ballroom to the high-spirited sounds of The Bunk Johnson Brazz Band who played “When the Saints Come Marching In.”
The gala, which each year ushers in the Lenten Season, was held on Sat., March 2, 2019, at the Hilton Americas-Houston. Supporters of the event purchased tickets and served as sponsors in addition to record-setting bidding on exciting Paddles-Up and auction items. Their generosity resulted in contributions of over $1.4M for student scholarships.
Live auction items included “Big Fun in the Big Easy,” a luxury trip for four by private plane to New Orleans and “Magna Opera Domini,” a catered dinner for 20 with Most Reverend Stephen J. Lopes, Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
Mardi Gras Honorees
The gala paid tribute to generous UST benefactors Lois and Carl Davis for their extraordinary advocacy and support of University of St. Thomas and its students.
“Carl and Lois share their gifts, great and small, with organizations whose missions have Christ at their core. We treasure their belief in our mission, and we are pleased to recognize the Davises tonight in a way that inspires all of us to follow their example,” Ludwick said.
Event Chairs & Mardi Gras King and Queen
Event Chairs Michele Malloy and Raye White along with Mardi Gras Student King Richie Nguyenphat, B.A. Biology and Queen Erin Vallagomesa, BBA/MBA, Marketing greeted more than 600 guests at an evening of celebration, giving, music, dancing and Mardi Gras festivities. Chosen each year by their fellow students, the Mardi Gras King and Queen epitomize UST’s core values of goodness, discipline knowledge and community.
Honorary Event Chairs were Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and Most Reverend Steven J. Lopes, Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
University of St. Thomas President Richard Ludwick and First Lady Melynda Ludwick gave special remarks.
Steve Smith, former news anchor at KHOU Channel 11, served as the Master of Ceremonies.
Mardi Gras Merriment & New Orleans Inspired Dinner
The gala featured classic Mardi Gras merriment complete with a scrumptious New Orleans- inspired dinner including alligator bites on winter organic salad greens, barbeque shrimp with remoulade cream sauce served over cheese grits, paired with braised beef short-rib, collard greens and roasted yam cube. Guests enjoyed a special signature cocktail “Carnival Cosmo” and New Orleans bread pudding with Bourbon butter sauce.
The band Infinite Groove had guests dancing until after midnight.
Today, the University enrolls more than 3,300 students with an undergraduate population of 1,600. Since the Basilian Fathers founded the University 1947, their mission to make the University accessible and affordable to all who choose it, has been upheld. For more than 73 years, UST has been graduating students into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more – throughout Houston and across the globe. Our student body reflects the rich diversity of the city itself, and we welcome undergraduate and graduate students of all faiths.