Father-Son Duo Begin Collegiate Journey Together as First-Year Islanders

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In the midst of adversity, first-year Islanders and father-son duo John and Jonathon Conyers ‘25 are creating a new purpose in their lives following a tragic family loss.

Norma Conyers, soul mate/wife to John and loving mother to Johnathon, passed away from cancer just weeks before the start of the fall 2021 semester. In an effort to live out his wife’s dream for their son’s bright academic future, John says it was then, and is now, his top priority to ensure both he and Jonathon carry on in her honor. The pair have found solace and peace in each other’s success as students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

“Norma was always very passionate about Jonathon receiving a good education,” John said about the matriarch of their family. “She wanted more than anything to set him up for success, doing anything it took to make sure he had the tools he needed. She knew he had a gift and wanted him to have the opportunity to grow.”

Jonathon, an 18-year-old music education major, violinist, and Lichtenstein scholar, says he and his father are pushing each other to not just do their best, but to honor the memory of his mother by supporting one another in the journey ahead.


I am not willing to accept giving up now, after all my mom did for 18 years was to make sure I didn’t. Now it is my turn to make sure what she did and what she taught me in our time together paid off – and I truly believe that is the biggest tribute that I can give to her.

Jonathon Conyers '25

“After my mom passed, I really wanted my dad to do something to make this time easier, so I asked my dad to come to school with me,” Jonathon said. “I’ve been really impressed with his late-night study sessions, and right now we’ve got some healthy competition going on to see who can get the highest GPA by graduation.”

Taking it one day at a time, the Conyers men are finding their new normal here at the Island University thanks to a few notable members of the Islander family, including Oscar Reyna, TAMU-CC Executive Director of Admissions.

According to John, Reyna was the first of many helping hands that aided him in the transition from proud Islander parent to thriving Islander student.

“Stories like this are why we do what we do,” Reyna said. “It takes a special person to take on the role that John has, a sole provider at home, family support for his son, and now a college student himself. I knew the day I met him he was a man of great character, and I hope he knows this campus community will always be here to support him.” 

Dr. Jose Flores, TAMU-CC Professor of Music, has also been a beacon of encouragement for the Conyers’ family.

“I’ve known Jonathon since he was in middle school,” Flores said. “He was always very talented. He has a passion for music that reminds me of myself at his age.”

Flores says Jonathon’s passion and discipline have all the makings of a professional musician.

“I truly think he could become a professional violinist – the talent is there,” Flores said. “I would be happy to mentor him throughout his career, but no matter his chosen path, I know he will make his family and myself proud. He has a strong heart.”

Jonathon says he is thankful for the role Flores has played in his life, including encouraging him to continue his love of music and push for the success his mother dreamt of.

Norma and Jonathon Conyers

Norma Conyers smiles alongside Jonathon Conyers during a family gathering.

“When my mom passed away, Dr. Flores was there for me,” Jonathon said. “He sat right next to me at the funeral and supported me and my father the whole time. I can’t ever express how grateful I am for his mentorship and hope to be that for my own students in the future.” 

John, who is a media studies major and business owner, says his ultimate goal is to walk alongside his son on graduation day.

“That day, all three of us will walk that stage,” John said. “While his mother might not be here with us physically, she walks with us every day in our hearts, and she’ll walk with us that day too.”

As their first semester at the Island University winds down, the father-son duo says while the road ahead won’t be easy, it’s one they will walk together. Both men say, even through loss, they feel supported by their family this holiday season.

“With Thanksgiving coming up, we expect our friends and family to continue to be supportive as they have always been,” John said. “Jonathon and I will host our family’s Thanksgiving dinner at our home with an empty chair at the head of our table. This, of course, breaks our hearts, but I will give thanks for the 35 great years I was blessed to have my wife. Norma always guided our family and continues to inspire us today.”

Jonathon says while moving on is never easy, giving up on his educational goals is not an option.

“Life brings a lot of challenges our way, but I believe that how we respond to these challenges makes us who we are,” Jonathon said. “I am not willing to accept giving up now, after all my mom did for 18 years was to make sure I didn’t. Now it is my turn to make sure what she did and what she taught me in our time together paid off – and I truly believe that is the biggest tribute that I can give to her.”