Herman Chavez can tell intricate stories without uttering a single word.
When the music reverberates from his cello, there’s no mistaking what the Rocky Mountain High School senior is saying.
“Music is a form of communication,” he said. “You can say ‘I love you,’ or ‘I feel sad,’ but that’s not something you can show as tangibly as you can in music.”
Throughout his high school career, Herman has worked to tell his own story and empower those around them to do the same.
He has spent countless hours volunteering as a peer counselor, helping students have difficult conversations about mental health, healthy relationships and consent, and he’s used his own struggles and experiences to guide him as he strives to make his high school a welcoming place for all students.
“One of the hardest things I’ve had to do is come to terms with my identity and then, after that, communicate my identity to other people,” he said. “My Latino heritage is incredibly important to me, and also I’m gay. Those two things work together in very different ways that have made it difficult for me to understand myself and also communicate that with other people.”
Next year, Herman will be heading off to Colorado State University, where he’ll pursue a double major in music and education. He hopes his studies there will help him empower students with music when he walks through high school halls once again as a teacher.
“I want to be able to inspire kids to do what they want in life,” he said. “I want to help them achieve things they never thought were possible, and I think by being a high school teacher, I can make individual impacts with kids every year.”