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Perseverance is key

Alum's book about resilience and overcoming odds wins a Catholic Press Association Book Award

August 30, 2019

Regina Pontes ’97 had already overcome seemingly insurmountable odds by surviving several bouts with cancer, a brain cyst and meningitis when she found herself, once again, lying in a hospital bed. This time, she had had a stroke. She woke up in the middle of the night and heard a voice say, “Lessons learned.”

“I knew then that I was supposed to write my story,” she said, believing it to be the voice of God. “I began an outline, and eight years later I finished my book.”

Pontes’s self-published book, “Perseverance is Key!,” won a 2019 Catholic Press Association Book Award.

Pontes has experienced more illness and loss than most, including the mysterious death of her twin brother. But most devastating was losing her singing voice to throat cancer.

“I could sing before I could speak,” she says. Studying liturgical music at the Mount under Christian Walker was a highlight of her education. She majored in religious studies, but always sang, and especially loved cantering during Mass. One of her favorite memoires was leading 15,000 in song at the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles.

“I always had my identity wrapped up in my voice,” she says.  “I defined my being by how I related to God’s work, and God’s work was singing. But in writing the book I’ve made a 360 turn in my belief about my value.”

Pontes now lives each day with the hope that faith can overcome tremendous odds.

“The theme in the book is to believe in yourself and the perseverance and strength of the Creator,” she says. “It’s a message God wanted out there and I was happy to facilitate.”

The response to her writing has been overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve found that reading my story has motivated people to starting to reconnecting with the Creator and to look outside of themselves,” she says.

While battling illness has left her paralyzed on her left side and bedridden, this has not stopped her from dreaming about what’s next. She’s currently working on creating a podcast she’s calling “The Will Within.”

“The book started a conversation, and I want to continue that conversation,” she says. “I hope to talk with people who also have a story to tell, and have them share their hope, perseverance and inspiration.”

Ponte’s book is available on Amazon.

To hear a recording of Regina rehearsing in the Mount Saint Mary’s Chapel for an Evening Prayer Service, visit


You can also listen to Deep River, sung by the MSMU Choir with Regina singing lead: