Today@Sam Article

Commencement Spotlight: Dustin Gaona

May 6, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

“Commencement Spotlight” is a series focused on highlighting SHSU graduates who have made remarkable strides in their lives to reach commencement day. These stories from Bearkats graduating this month, who have demonstrated a “can-do” spirit through challenges and service, remind us of the many ways Sam Houston State University is preparing students for meaningful lives of achievement. Visit today@sam/commencementspotlight to find the list of stories highlighted so far.


Dustin Gaona
Lake Jackson, Texas
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice  

dustin verticalAfter completing 47 hours of core curriculum through Brazosport College, Dustin Gaona continued his educational journey at SHSU in 2019 and just two years later, he is happy to be graduating. While his studies at SHSU may have been brief, he certainly made an impact with the campus community, earning the ‘Outstanding Freshman Leader’ Sammy Award last year.

What challenges did you face to complete your degree?
DG: The biggest challenge was finding the drive to push through all the activities and jobs I had. In the short two years it took to complete my bachelors, I became a Texas high school sports official for volleyball basketball and softball. Additionally, I worked part-time for intramural sports on campus. I did this all while taking an 18-hour course load. In my last semester, I served as an intern for the Montgomery County Constable Precinct 2 office. There, I would work 40-hour work weeks while continuing as a high school official and working for the college.         

What service projects have you taken part in during your time at SHSU?
DG: I served as a volunteer for the Walker County Sheriff’s office as a citizen on patrol for the two years I attended SHSU.  In my last year, I also served as a past peer mentor for the 2020 Freshman Leadership Program.   

How did you earn the ‘Outstanding Freshman Leader’ Sammy Award?
DG: I believe that through my service in the Freshmen Leadership Program and part time campus work through the intramural sports department, I was recognized for this distinguished award. In intramural sports, our department played a huge role in student engagement with our university. In our department, we leave no one behind! If you wish to participate in our sports, we will find you a spot on a team. In Freshmen Leadership, I dedicated hours of service to the Huntsville community, and I do not just view those hours as mandatory. Service is part of my entire life goal and anytime I get a chance to serve my community I’m all in. 

dustin profile

What future career goals do you have?
DG: I will serve as a patrol officer for the City of Lake Jackson, following the Police Academy this year. I plan to serve the City of Lake Jackson and residents of Brazoria County for as long as I can. It is my hope that I can lead a department one day later down the line. However, my objective in the meantime is to serve my community with honor and integrity.       

What will you miss most about your time as an SHSU student?
DG: I will miss my crew at the intramural sports department the most. I have never worked with a better crew in all of my jobs. They have had my back since day one, and I wish them nothing but the upmost success in life.  

See more Commencement Spotlight features. 

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