Spring Break was in full swing, but Dr. Daniel Hunter-Holly was still in his office helping students. Music clearly plays a major role in the life of the associate professor of music and voice in the UTRGV School of Music, Department of Fine Arts.

The associate professor has been recognized by the National Association of Teachers of Singing as one of seven 2018 Emerging Leaders. Winners receive a $750 grant to assist with their attendance at the NATS 55th National Conference, June 22-26, 2018, in Las Vegas.

Hunter-Holly, who in 2015 was awarded The University of Texas Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, said he had no idea early on that music would be his career.

“I went to college without having a major in mind,” he recalls. “I spent two years trying other majors and eventually realized I was only in music classes.”

Allen Henderson, executive director of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, said Hunter-Holly’s award is all about his excellence and commitment to the art.

“Daniel’s selection is indicative of the high quality of his service so far, and we look forward to recognizing him at our national conference,” Henderson said.

The award is only given to the Texoma region every few years, and honorees must have less than 10 years of full-time teaching experience. Hunter-Holly will be two months shy of 10 years when he gets the award this summer.

“This was perfect timing,” he said. “I'm excited.”

Hunter-Holly's almost-decade of teaching has been in Brownsville at UTRGV and its legacy institution UTB-TSC.

“It’s totally grown on me,” he said of the Valley. “I really enjoy the students here, primarily. And as I've been here now almost 10 years, I've really grown to love the community as well.”

While his name will be on the award, Hunter-Holly said recognition for professors also benefits students.

“I think that, for the students, that extra level of recognition kind of helps them realize the excellence of education that they're getting throughout the university,” he said. “It’s not all the awards being won by bigger and better places far away. They’re happening here. too."