Music Education is a Life Passion for Outstanding Islander Graduate Dustin Hernandez ‘22

Outstanding Islander Graduate – Dustin Hernandez – Spring 2022

Dustin Hernandez is the spring 2022 Outstanding Islander Graduate for the College of Liberal Arts (CLA), a designation sponsored by Academic Affairs. Hernandez made the most of his time at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He performed with the university’s Trumpet Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band, Islander Brass Quintet +1, Mariachi de la Isla, and the Symphonic Winds Brass Ensemble. On May 21, he received a Bachelor of Music with a teacher certification. The spring 2022 ceremony was the largest in university’s 75-year history with 1,286 Islander graduates earning degrees.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As a music major at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Dustin Hernandez ’22 discovered that he had much more in common with his university mentor Dr. Mary Thornton than the trumpet. Both experienced the loss of their respective father at a young age – a trauma that over time helped Thornton and Hernandez to forge a unique bond.

“I think that there’s this idea in the back of your mind that you always wish that your dad could hear you play now,” Thornton, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Professor of Music and Department Chair, said. “And I think we both know that in our heart of hearts, they can.”

Hernandez has made the most of his time at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. He has performed with the university’s Trumpet Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Band, Islander Brass Quintet +1, Mariachi de la Isla, and the Symphonic Winds Brass Ensemble. Additionally, Hernandez also performed many solo pieces as a member of Thornton’s trumpet studio.

For his outstanding academic achievements and passion for music education, Hernandez was selected as Spring 2022 Outstanding Islander Graduate for the TAMU-CC College of Liberal Arts. Hernandez is one of more than 1,285 Islanders who will earn their degree during the May 21 commencement ceremony – the largest in the university’s 75-year history. The honor of Outstanding Islander Graduate is sponsored by Academic Affairs.

Hernandez is an inaugural Islander Chamber Music Scholarship Program recipient, a highly competitive scholarship program that provides students with $10,000 per academic year. As members of the program, students perform at university and community functions, and maintain academic excellence. Hernandez also was part of an outreach program at Hamlin Middle School in Corpus Christi in connection with the scholarship program, which rotates schools in CCISD every two years. Through this, he was pleased to be able to give back to beginning music students and leave an impact on them.

“All the scholarship opportunities that I’ve received have allowed me to study without barriers,” Hernandez said. “Scholarships have allowed me to explore music, invest in musical resources, and obtain my own equipment.”

A Corpus Christi native who graduated from Tuloso-Midway High School in 2017, Hernandez became familiar with the high standards of the TAMU-CC music department through summer camps and private lessons during high school.

“The Island University is a wonderful place in our backyard,” Hernandez said. “The faculty is outstanding, and I felt welcome from the first time that I interacted with them.”

Thornton has been Hernandez’s biggest role model at the Island University.

“Dr. Thornton has always been willing to discuss music, pedagogy, educational pursuits, developments, and goals with me,” Hernandez said. “Her time and commitment to students are what drives my success. I aspire to be as effective and impactful as she is.”

This admiration goes both ways. Dr. Thornton believes that Hernandez will impact every student he comes across during his time as an educator.

“Dustin is the kind of student who pushes you to become a better teacher,” Thornton said. “He works hard and is determined to make everyone feel like they belong. He has been a wonderful person to watch grow and mature, and it has been a pleasure to work with him.”

Along the way, Hernandez also gained work experience in music at South Texas Music Mart where he worked as sales representative for the four years he studied at TAMU-CC.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has given Hernandez numerous opportunities as well as plenty of fond memories, including the opportunity to conduct a composition during a Symphonic Winds concert, which is led by Dr. Brian Shelton, TAMU-CC Associate Professor of Music and Director of Bands.

“Getting the chance to learn from Dr. Shelton and conduct the highest ensemble at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was such an honor,” Hernandez said. “I was so ecstatic when I heard the final chord resonating in the Performing Arts Center. I felt like all of my time and effort in the department had culminated in earning this prestigious opportunity.”

Hernandez, who is earning a Bachelor of Music with a teacher certification, says his immediate Islander Impact will be to inspire future generations of musicians as a teacher.

“I want to be the one that ignites a fiery passion for contest, fun, collaboration, expression, and most importantly, joy,” Hernandez said.

A long-term goal for Hernandez is to earn a Doctor of Musical Arts to become a field supervisor for future music educators.

“All of my objectives return to education,” Hernandez said. “Music is a discipline that holds many life lessons within it. Music comes from a place that is beyond just reading the black printed on a page. Music comes from an internal place that combines cognitive, kinesthetic, emotional, and personal information. My goal is to provide a means of achieving that for all of my students.”