Alex Dunaway - Chemistry Student and SMU Band Member

  • Name: Alex Dunaway

  • Education: Junior Chemistry and Music Major at Southern Methodist University Hometown: San Antonio, TX
  • Target Audience: Elementary School, Middle School, and High School

Do you love music and science? Do you think you have to choose just one? Well, you don't. Alex Dunaway, a junior Chemistry and Music major, shows that you can excel at both if you maintain a balance! He found that the key to this balance is time management, and he learned to master that skill!

Why did you choose your major? Did you always know this is what you wanted to do?
I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences, but I didn’t know what it would be. I was taking pre-med courses, and I discussed with the Faculty-in-Residence in Boaz, he recommended declaring a major in chemistry, and I looked into it and loved it. I love the chemistry department here, and I know the faculty well, and it gets me out of the music bubble sometimes. I was really into playing my trombone high school for the 4 years – it was all I did because it was what I wanted to do all the time, and I didn’t want to stop playing in college, and I loved doing it. I also didn’t want to do music for a living because wanted something stable. Music isn’t something super serious for me anymore – I don't want it as a job, but I am serious enough to get better and enjoy it.


What is your main role in band?
I did marching band in high school for 4 years, and I enjoyed it, and I loved the sense of communityIt ate into my time in the fall, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything because the friends I’ve made there are so much better and realer than any of the other friends I've made here; it's such a diverse group. I love the band in that aspect, and we play some pretty cool music from time to time. This year, I’m the section leader for the trombones, so I remind people to show up to rehearsal and to bring their uniforms. 

What does your average day look like? (Class, practice, games, etc.)
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I wake up at 7 for my 8 AM classand I get homework done during breaks then go and practice for a little bit. I have rehearsals Wednesdays and Fridays from 3PM to 8 PM. Tuesdays and Thursdays I have class from 8 AM to 2 PM, and I have rehearsal from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Also on Thursdays, I have band from 7 PM to 10 PM, and I do homework after that. 

Do you apply what you learn in the classroom on the field?

For chemistry, I don't because there's not really any application. For music, yes, for obvious reasons and because I know not everyone’s a music major. I try not to be ultra picky. People are going to sound different, but I try to hold everyone up to a minimum to know the notes and the right style.  

What's your biggest sacrifice trying to do it all (school, sports, family, etc.)?
I have to sacrifice boulevarding, because I don’t really get to do that.  I don’t get to experience some school events like a regular student, but that also has perks because I don’t have to wait in line for basketball ticketsI don’t have a lot of free time, and I can't expect to be done with my days until at least 7 PM because of classes and rehearsals. The biggest thing I've had to sacrifice though, is sleep. 

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I’ll be in medical school or stationed somewhere in Europe in the Airforce

Do you have any suggestions for how kids can balance STEM interests and music interests? Any courses you can recommend students to take before college?
Know that it’s not easy. Really having a good time management strategy is crucial. I don’t do planners, but I use reminders on my phone and prioritize. If you have something due tomorrow and a project due Friday, worry about what’s due first. Find little moments to work on stuff.

What was your favorite class growing up?
I’ve always been really into math – that’s why I gravitated towards chemistry instead of biology. Math’s always straightforward. And I see numbers differently than people – I associate numbers with personalities and identities. I was never the kid who hated math. 

Are you a first generation college student?
My mom went to college for a semester. My dad went to night school and got an Associate'Degree, but he never finished his Bachelor's. Both my sisters went to college and dropped out. I'm not the first one to go to college, but I will be the first one to get a Bachelor's degree.

When did you start your playing your instrument?
My first instrument was piano when I was in 3rd grade in a class setting. I did that for a year. In 5th grade, I played violin for a year. 6th grade is when I started playing the trombone, and that’s what I play now. 

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