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NEWS | Nov. 22, 2013

'Texas-sized' talent: Singing star makes 'Rising Star' finals

By Staff Sgt. Ashley Hawkins 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After winning the Operation Rising Star competition at Fort Eustis Nov. 1, Sarah Hopkins was chosen to represent Joint Base Langley-Eustis as one of the top 12 competitors in the contest's national live finals at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.

Hopkins will compete for two weeks beginning Nov. 30, said Sherri Noland, 733rd Force Support Division marketing chief.

Operation Rising Star, hosted by the U.S. Army, is an annual singing competition similar to television shows such as "American Idol" and "The Voice," in which 50 percent of the voting comes from audience response, and the other half is based on the decision of a panel of judges.

Beginning Dec. 8, each competition will be available for the general public to view and vote for their favorite performer online at The semi-finals will be available Dec. 10 and 12, and the winner will be revealed Dec. 14.

Hopkins, the daughter of U.S. Army Reserve Master Sgt. Carroll Hopkins, 3rd Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division area leader, won first-place in Fort Eustis' installation-level competition. She said she is "very excited and grateful about being selected," and feels "it's quite an honor."

She recalled barely being able to contain her excitement when she received notification of her selection on her mobile phone while out shopping. "I was in when I got the e-mail [on my phone]," she said. "I was so happy I started dancing and calling people. My best friend Kate dropped what she was doing and came to congratulate me."

Since that day, Hopkins said she has been touching up on her skills by singing as much as she can while balancing homework and studying. The 20-year-old is currently enrolled in the liberal arts program at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, but she won't let that prevent her from chasing the ORS title.

"The competition does interfere with school, but the trip actually falls during my final weeks of classes and final exams," said Hopkins. "My teachers are working with me so I can finish the majority of my work before I go, then finish the rest after I return."