Music or math — that was the question for Ricardo "Rico" Delgado of Brownsville as he entered the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College in 2008.
Now a San Benito High School teacher, he feels he received the best of both worlds, being able to study math and also being accepted into the prestigious Master Chorale.
"I was very fortunate to have been in the Master Chorale and to study under Chorale Director Dianne Brumley," Delgado said. "She really showed me that she believed in me by giving me a leadership position as one of the bass section leaders, even though I wasn't a music major."
Now in his second year of teaching math at San Benito High School, Delgado says he carries what he learned from Brumley with him into the classroom every day.
"I try to keep her in mind every time I am struggling — and not only when I'm struggling, but that's when she comes to mind the most," he said. "I try to think of her positivity and her spirit and her drive, and I just try to embody that and channel it toward my students."
Although he thought he had sung his last note with the Master Chorale when he graduated in December 2010, Delgado will return to the stage of The Arts Center, along with current chorale vocalists and chorale alumni to sing at Brumley's farewell performance at 3 p.m. on April 14 in The Arts Center.
"This last concert that signifies her retirement from UTB will be a tearjerker for most of us," he said. "We shared some great times with Mrs. Brumley, and being back under her direction will bring back fond memories."
Among those memories is the Chorale's trip to Italy during Spring Break of 2009, where the students sang during high mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican as well as in several cities throughout the country.
Italy gave Delgado a taste of traveling in Europe, and he plans to visit Spain during the last month of the summer.
The first two months of his summer, however, will be devoted to study, attending classes at Harvard University.
Along with eight other math teachers from Region One Education Service Center GEAR UP schools, Delgado is in his first year of a three-year program with Harvard University through the Texas Graduate Center, a component of the Texas Valley Communities Foundation.
"I am a role model for my three nephews and two nieces as well as all my students," he said. "This program will help me prepare my San Benito High School students for college-level coursework and their future careers by utilizing instruction of the highest quality."
Upon completion, Delgado will have earned a Master of Liberal Arts in Mathematics for Teaching, and will be qualified to teach dual enrollment mathematics classes.
Aside from summer classes at Harvard, the program requires online coursework throughout the school year.
Delgado said the program is demanding and designed with high expectations, but he feels it will be worth it in the long run. Furthermore, he said he learned about living up to lofty expectations from Brumley.
"I place high expectations upon my students," he said. "I want my students to do well; I want them to know that no matter where they're coming from or what their home life is, there is a promising future ahead of them. I try to stay positive and be my students' cheerleader, just like Mrs. Brumley was for me."
At the April 14 concert, the Master Chorale Alumni Chorus will join current Master Chorale students during the second half of the performance. For ticket information, call 882-7025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.