Rudy Reynoso ('14) was in the same room as Beyoncé and Jay-Z. He caught a glimpse of astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. And he almost ran into comedian Sarah Silverman.
Reynoso won the grand prize -- a trip to the 2018 Grammy Awards in New York City -- thanks to a contest held by his employer, Hilton Hotels. He described the ceremony as seeing 30 "mini-concerts." Bruno Mars' and Cardi B's performance of "Finesse" was his favorite.
"Just being in that arena, there was overwhelming and humbling," he says.
After the awards ceremony, he attended an after-party at the Marriott Marquis, where there were four stories full of entertainment. He saw a Nile Rodgers concert and chatted with Recording Academy President Neil Portnow.
Reynoso won the trip by entering the 2017 Hilton Rock Star contest, in which employees' original musical performances or renditions were judged based on musicality, performance and originality. Reynoso, who is a sales and catering manager at the Denison Hilton Garden Inn, rewrote "Guns and Ships" from the musical Hamilton to focus on the life of the hotel chain's founder, Conrad Hilton. He was one of four winners out of 200 video entries from around the world.
He took his brother, Eddy, a UNT media arts major, to the Grammys. His other brother, Daniel, also attends UNT. When he was a student, Reynoso, a communications studies major, was the first Latino president for the Student Government Association, a student regent, a brother of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, an Emerald Eagle Scholar, and the president and beatboxer for the a cappella group The Green Tones.
During the trip, he also performed magic tricks in Times Square, visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum and saw the musical Kinky Boots.
"It was beyond incredible to say the least," he says.