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Olga Saad’s powerful voice has graced opera houses and theaters across the globe. She’s traveled from Rome to Austria, and Montana to New York.

No doubt, many would say that Saad’s is a renowned voice of distinction. But all that success grew from fierce discipline and determination practiced at Friends University’s Riney Fine Arts Center.

Saad, a 2004 vocal performance graduate, said much of that discipline was driven by Dr. David Weber.

“He was the one who really helped to shape my voice,” Saad said. “If it wasn’t for him demanding excellence of me, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours in the practice room.”

Saad met Dr. Weber while performing in a summer arts group called Summer Stars in Wichita. She played the part of Sandy in “Grease.”

“He came out and heard me, and we started talking about Friends,” she said.

When she arrived on campus, she said she felt very welcomed.

“I wasn’t lost in a crowd,” she said.

Not only was Saad committed to her education, she said her teachers were, too.

“What I got out of Friends was dedicated instruction,” Saad said. “The teachers were very dedicated to teaching to my needs. And that’s what I needed coming out of high school – someone who could direct me. I loved the campus and the environment. I still do.”

Saad admits her teachers were quite strict, but she says it’s one of the vocal performance program’s greatest assets.

“Music theory classes were very intense,” she said. “The teachers were committed to our education. It was great to have strict teachers who made sure we didn’t miss out on important information. When I got to graduate school, I really felt comfortable with everything they threw at me.”

After graduating from Friends University, Saad went on to earn her master’s in voice performance from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. She now lives in Chicago pursuing her career as an opera singer. She performs with the Chamber Opera in Chicago, teaches private voice lessons, and teaches outreach programs for Lyric Opera Chicago and Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College. Her performance resume includes roles in “The Marriage of Figaro” with the Rome Festival in Italy; “Elixir of Love” with Bowen Park Opera in Illinois; and “Romeo and Juliet,” “La Traviata” and “Turindot” as a young artist with Wichita Grand Opera in 2006.

Even with all that success under her belt, Olga is still not satisfied.

“I’m hoping to start working on my doctor of music here in Chicago in the next year or two,” Saad said.

“I had so many opportunities to perform at Friends. That’s what really set me up for my career,” she said.