Describing the experience as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Suffolk University student Alexandria “Allie” Hershman sang the national anthem before a recent game between the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies at TD Banknorth Garden.

“It’s hard to believe, especially when you think how very few people get the chance to step on the Celtics home court and sing before thousands of people,” said the 19-year-old sophomore majoring in Public Relations. “It was nerve-wracking at first, but once I started singing, everything flowed naturally.”

"Suffolk-Celtics Idol" competition

Hershman’s being in the spotlight was the result of her winning the first “Suffolk-Celtics Idol” competition, conducted in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations and the Performing Arts Office. There were 10 students selected for the competition that went two rounds in the cafe at 73 Tremont St.

In the end, the panel of faculty, staff and student judges chose Hershman.

“I was shocked when they told me that I won,” she said. “Before I knew it, I was getting e-mails and texts from friends congratulating me.”

Alumni Night highlight

Hershman’s performance was scheduled to take place on the same evening as “Suffolk Alumni Night at the Celtics,” a popular annual event that brings Suffolk alumni, students, and staff together to meet and cheer on the home team.

And once word got out that Hershman would be singing before a Celtics game, fellow undergraduates showed their loyalty by purchasing discounted tickets through the Office of Student Leadership & Involvement.

Adding to the tremendous support of the Suffolk family, Hershman’s mother and two sisters drove up from Connecticut to see her perform on the big stage.

“My father was on a business trip, so my mom called him on her cell phone so he could listen to me sing,” said Hershman.

Hershman has been singing since she was 12, mostly in talent shows and at her church. She doesn’t know if a singing career is in her future, but she is releasing a CD this summer. “We’ll see where it goes from there,” she said.