The former Cougar was selected as one of the semifinalists on the popular television talent show. After nailing a performance of Andrea Bocelli's "Time to Say Goodbye," she earned a standing ovation from the celebrity judges - David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan - and enough fan votes to send her to the competition's next round.
"You took my breath away," Osbourne said during the telecast. "It was so perfect...the performance...the way you look. You are a star."
Padilla is now among the final 20 contestants on "America's Got Talent." The show airs 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays on NBC. Here next appearance is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 8.
Following her performance, Padilla said that she hopes to inspire her daughter. A cancer survivor, Padilla never gave up her dreams of singing. She once feared that the exhaustive rounds of chemotherapy would take their toll on her voice. Ultimately, she emerged triumphant and earned a master's degree in vocal performance from UH's Moores School of Music (MSM) in 2004.
"I want my daughter to follow her dreams," she said during the telecast. "I want to set an example for her to always follow her dreams."
At MSM, she performed in several Moores Opera Center productions including the lead in Mozart's "La finta giardiniera" and a role in the Moores Opera Center's commercial recording of Dominick Argento's "Casanova's Homecoming."
"It's really gratifying for a classically trained singer to receive such acclaim on network television," said David White, director of the Moores School of Music. "I'm so proud of Barbara Padilla. She came to the Moores School from Mexico thanks to our highly recognized opera program. We all wish her the best as she continues to compete on ‘America's Got Talent. Without question, Barbara does possess exceptional talent, and she's now able to share it with millions and millions of people!"
As a UH student, Padilla took also top honors at the National Association of Teachers Singing competition in the advanced adults category in 2001. She also delivered a rendition of the national anthem before a sold-out crowd at a U.S.-Mexico soccer game in Reliant Stadium.
To learn more about Padilla, visit her Web site www.barbarapadilla.com.
For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at www.uh.edu/newsroom.