College of Humanities and the Arts
Why did you choose your major?
Music is an incredibly challenging and competitive profession to pursue. It
requires an incessant drive and determination to constantly improve, whilst never
losing sight of the fact that everything you’re doing is first and foremost for the
love of it. I knew from an early age that I wanted to pursue music. The joy I feel
when playing and performing with other people is unlike anything else I have
experienced. I’ve been very fortunate to have supportive people throughout my
life who have helped me a great deal. I want to give back to the community the
gifts that I have been given as well as leave behind a stronger and more
comprehensive series of music education opportunities for future students.
There’s never been a doubt in my mind that this is what I want do.
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
I strive to do my best in everything that I take on; there’s nothing that I tackle
halfheartedly. These academic years are critical to building a successful teaching
and performance career, so I want to spend each and every minute soaking up as much knowledge as I can. It warms my heart to know that this hard work is
paying off. Especially since I came from a small town, being recognized for my
achievements in such a large institution is truly gratifying.
Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life?
I wouldn’t be where I am without the love and support of my family. I’m thankful
for my parents, who have done so much to support my goals in music; for my
siblings, who set such high standards for themselves, leading me to eventually
hold those standards for myself; for my grandparents, whose hard work,
resiliency, and courage throughout life is unparalleled. They’ve made me the
person that I am today. I love them with all my heart.
Tell us about an SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.
The faculty in the School of Music and Dance are absolutely phenomenal. Never
before have I been in an environment so incredibly full of talent, knowledge, and
sincerity. In particular, I’m grateful to my clarinet and saxophone instructors: Dr.
Janet Averett and Dr. Aaron Lington. Their continual guidance and support means the world to me. I look forward to the opportunity to work with them each week and always walk out of my lessons having learned so much in such a short time. It’s astounding. Thank you both for everything that you’ve done.
Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.
Once again, I think of the faculty of the School of Music and Dance. It’s truly a
gift to get to work with so many inspiring educators. I’m immensely grateful to
each and every one of them. The daily impact that they have on me is astonishing. Day after day, course after course, professor after professor, I continue to feel inspired and happy to be here. That feeling is simply wonderful.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
Take the time that you need to find what you love. It’s an investment — it’s worth
it. You’ll find yourself learning so much more effortlessly than if you were
studying something that doesn’t invigorate you on a daily basis. Getting up early
in the morning will still be difficult, but you’ll never question why you’re doing
What makes you a Spartan?
During my time at San Jose State, I’ve become a more collaborative, creative, andbconfident individual. SJSU has taught me how to much more effectively connect with and inspire people, both as an educator and performer. These skills will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to give back to this community that has given me so much. I’m proud to attend San Jose State. I’m proud to be a Spartan.
Nominated by Fred Cohen
Director, Music and Dance
"The reason Rene stands out is because he is looking broadly at his role as a musician and beyond his own horizon. He is good at what the school asks of him and naturally excels at what professors expect of him, but that is only the start. Rene brings an intuition for identifying problems and the dedication and passion so see things through to improvement, such as working with Dr. Hollinger to improve the student orientation process so that students don't get stuck in school for an extra year. Great musicians see the bigger picture and are problem solvers, and it's what allows Rene to keep a long view on his career and development."