UF professor José Valentino Ruiz sat patiently in his seat at the MGM Grand Las Vegas earlier this month.
When a presenter at the Latin Grammys called the name of the album he worked on, Ruiz said all he could think about was the hard work that went into making this moment a reality.
The 31-year-old, whose stage name is José Valentino, was the flutist and recording engineer on the album “Todo Pasa,” winner of Best Spanish Language Christian Album at the 20th Annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Nov. 14.
“I recalled all of the episodic memories of the work that I put into my craft, networking, collaborating, refining my skill set,” Ruiz said. “It was coming full circle, and I finally felt like I arrived at one of my greatest goals.”
Ruiz said he collaborated on this album with his close friend and mentor, Juan Delgado. The pair, who have known each other for five years, worked together long-distance for a year to record and put Delgado’s album together.
“You want to try to get nominated, and after you've done that, you want to see if you can win,” Ruiz said. “But it's all for fun, you know. At the end of the day, it doesn't determine the value of the actual album itself or the impact that it can have.”
Ruiz is no stranger to the spotlight. He was nominated for two other Latin Grammys, won an Emmy, won a Global Music Award and holds the record for the most DownBeat Student Music Awards, the highest award for jazz and commercial music education, he said.
In addition to singing and playing instruments, Ruiz composes, produces, writes film scores and makes commercial jingles.
Ruiz continues to teach "Intro to Music Technology" and "Strategic Entrepreneurship Development for the Arts” because he said he cares for his students and wants to be a role model for them.
“I teach because I recognize that I had incredible teachers and I would not be where I'm at today without them,” Ruiz said. “I love helping people realize their innate potential. I like to teach because I love seeing people become set free from any inhibition and self doubt.”
Andrea Garcia, a 23-year-old UF vocal performances senior, is taking Ruiz’s entrepreneurship class. She said Ruiz is a great professor because he encourages individuality and creates a safe learning environment for students to freely express themselves.
“He has taught me that with determination and wholesome desire, it is possible to achieve our dreams,” Garcia said.
When Garcia heard Ruiz won a Grammy, she felt excited and was proud to be one of his students.
“To be taught by someone of his reputation is truly inspiring,” Garcia said. “It makes me feel like I am on the right track to achieving my own dreams.”