University of New Mexico student Theresa Schmitz started singing at a very early age – shortly after she could walk and talk. From there singing has always been a part of her life the Albuquerque-native recalled. She competed in her first official talent contest in the fourth grade. She didn't win, but it didn't discourage her. The next time she was able to compete was in the seventh grade. She won that time and has been a hit ever since. Schmitz competes next at the Santa Ana Star Search talent contest this Saturday, Feb. 5. Fellow students, faculty and staff can help Schmitz' cause by voting for her online during the week of Feb. 5-8 following her preliminary round Saturday.

"I started singing early in my life," said Schmitz. "According to my parents, I began singing shortly after I could walk and talk. I was part of a Spanish church where music and singing were a big part of the ministry."

Last year, Schmitz won the UNM's campuswide Lobos Got Talent contest on the judges scorecards singing the Joss Stone version of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful' last November. She'll be performing 'My All' by Mariah Carey when she takes the stage to compete in the Santa Ana Star Search talent contest on Saturday.

Schmitz, a senior who will earn her Bachelor of Science degree this fall in Biology with aspirations of becoming a physician's assistant, has never had any formal vocal lessons or training. Her talent to sing came naturally and not really because of any influences. It was a gift she wanted to share.

"I always wanted to sing in a choir, and honestly, I feel like it's my calling," said Schmitz, who is currently part of the music ministry that sings in the choir at Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque. "I've always learned to sing from what I've heard. It's (singing) a gift that God gave me."

While she's had no training, there are things she'd still like to learn about the art of singing. "Things you'd learn in a class like reading music," she said.

Schmitz entered the Santa Ana Star Search contest last December by submitting an audition tape. She heard back from Santa Ana last month inviting her back for a second "live" audition. She was successful in that audition and is now one of 27 preliminary contestants competing for a grand prize that includes and opportunity to work with a talent agent in Las Vegas, Nevada, $10,000 and tickets to the finals of American Idol.

While the $10,000 will help her further her academic dreams and tickets to American Idol and a chance to see famous people like actress and singer Jennifer Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, she's excited about the chance to represent the University of New Mexico and helping to promote the university in a positive way.

The next step in the contest will be live performances by the 27 preliminary contestants, who will be broken down into three groups of nine that will perform on three separate dates, Feb. 5, Feb. 12 and Feb. 26, at Santa Ana Star Center. Tickets are on sale for $5 and can be purchased at the casino, which is the cheapest way (no service charge) or at the website, Santa Ana. Streaming live footage of the competition will also be available on their website for those who want to watch but are unable to attend the show.

By visiting, Santa Ana Star Search, anyone, whether they see the show or not, can vote for Schmitz. Online votes are one of three categories that will be used to determine a winner. The other two categories include judges scorecards and the live performance. The contestants who emerge victorious will compete in the finals on Saturday, March 12.

To listen to Schmitz' videos, visit: Some Kind of Wonderful by Theresa Schmitz and also;=related.

"The University of New Mexico is a great school for all the different programs it offers," said Schmitz. "It has one of the top law and medical schools in the U.S. I think, by competing, it's a good way to get the word out about UNM. I would greatly appreciate any support in this competition to help me achieve something I have strived for, for many years and will gladly represent the University of New Mexico. And hopefully, one day I will be able to tell many this is where I come from."

Additional information about the Santa Ana Star Search can also be found on Facebook at, Facebook ~ Santa Ana Star Search and also Santa Ana Star Search.