FLINT, Michigan -- Anne-Marie Atanga, a 2021 graduate from Genesee Early College, made her mark in Flint and is preparing for an even brighter future.
The valedictorian caught the attention of many while giving her graduation speech
, in which she graced the crowd with her angelic voice and a hopeful and encouraging message to her 20 fellow graduates. Atanga started singing at the age of three and got into vocal lessons by the age of 10 at the suggestion of her mother, Bernadette Atanga.
“I started singing when I was little,” Atanga said. “My mom thought it would be a good idea to put me in vocal lessons, that way I don't injure my voice, which I think was a really smart choice because if you don't sing carefully, you can lose your voice.”
This led to Atanga getting introduced into more classical styles of music. What started out as a dream of being a pop star on Disney Channel slowly shifted into a dream of becoming an opera singer with the help of her vocal teacher.
While Atanga has proven herself as a singer, she also excelled in academics during her time at GEC. She earned a high school GPA of 3.824 and a college GPA of 3.91, was the vice president of the National Honor Society, and was a member of the University of Michigan-Flint debate team, among many other accomplishments.
Her talents helped get her into the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor where she will study in both the neuroscience and vocal performance programs.
Even while planning for her future, she keeps her roots in mind, acknowledging that the Flint community has taught her many things. Her mother moved to Flint from Italy for a residency at Hurley Medical Center, and the family decided to stay here.
“Most people go to big cities, but she said she loved the program and the nice tight-knit community—we really have so much going on,” Atanga said. “I just think it's amazing that we have so many talented young people who are pursuing their dreams inside of the community to help it grow and get bigger. Just the spirit of moving forward no matter what happens ... I think you can only get that by living in a city like Flint.”
With family all around the world, the Atangas have made Flint their own home, but they still have a great relationship with their loved ones everywhere.
“My family is a huge part of my life, even though we don't get to see each other in person as much as people who live together,” Atanga said. “I think my family is kind of big ... but I really feel connected to them no matter where they are all over the world, and the ability to just share life lessons together and keep growing together as a family.”
Atanga’s goals in music go beyond just her own aspirations, though. She is working to make opera and classical music more accessible through her use of social media. Atanga posts her recitals on YouTube in the spirit of this idea, getting young people the chance to experience classical music for free.
“I definitely want to keep up the YouTube channel
because I really think social media is really the most accessible way for people to get access to opera,” she said. “Before social media you had to physically go to a concert, and these concerts can be really expensive and if you can't afford it, then you're missing out on that opportunity.”
For more information about Atanga, subscribe to her YouTube channel ‘Dear Anne-Marie,’ or follow her on Instagram or TikTok.
Enjoy this story? Sign up
for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.