The classroom is where Aric Serrano shines — not just academically, but as a teacher.
Aric Serrano stands before the Pecos High School music class in Pecos, Texas. The Eastern New Mexico University graduating senior was a student teacher this semester in Pecos through ENMU's teacher education program.
Through the teacher education program at Eastern New Mexico University, Serrano has been a student teacher in Pecos, Texas, since January working with music students.
The 22-year-old graduating senior has always been involved in the music world starting from his upbringing in Mankato, Minn., but has been inspired as a leader from the priests in the parishes he has been a member of.
"I've lived in different parshises," Serrano said. "The priests were people I've always admired because they're leaders."
Combining his love for music and respect for his religious leaders, Serrano will study for his priesthood after graduation and plans to work in Catholic school music programs.
Serrano said he and ENMU music professor John Olsen are kindred spirits not just because of their love for music, but because Olsen once planned to study for his priesthood as well.
Olsen thinks highly of Serrano and his ambitions, and within the two years Serrano has studied piano with him, Olsen has been impressed with his growth and character.
"He was wonderful to work with and a very sensitive and bright boy," Olsen said. "I was very impressed because I have also at one point in my life studied for the priesthood. I'd think he'd be an outstanding teacher and priest."
Serrano says he's most happiest when playing music and helping people.
He's transitioned through quite a few instruments, starting with piano lessons in fifth grade, trumpet in the sixth, and his specialty instrument is the euphonium.
At ENMU, Serrano continued to thrive in music joining the many bands that ENMU has to offer from the jazz band, to the marching band and the wind symphony. His favorite was the steel drum ensemble.
His biggest accomplishment though has been working with 80 to 90 students in Pecos.
The first few weeks he got to observe the class and assist the cooperating teacher, and eventually the took over.
"When I would walk in the classroom I would always look forward to improving upon the day before and we were making good progress in the short amount of time I was here," Serrano said.
Serrano works with middle school and high school students, helping them learn how to read music and create the characteristic tone of their instrument.
"I feel the beginning brass sixth-graders have come a long way," Serrano said. "With middle school students, you have to be much more proactive in rehearsals. Beginners take much more attention."
Serrano said his biggest challenge was knowing the proper technique for all the instruments and teaching that technique to the students but he was willing to accept that challenge because he's dedicated to serving others.
Serrano is excited for the future in teaching through this experience and excited to pursue his priesthood.
Olsen believes that Serrano will be successful in whatever he does after graduation.
"He has a very altruistic personality," Olsen said. "I feel privileged as a professor to have known him and we're always pleased to have a student of his caliber in the music department."