Success Story


Back to Success Stories
<< Return to Current Success Stories

Transfer Student Finds Leadership on the UST Basketball Court

Erich Schoeffler never thought he would graduate from college. After casually taking courses at a community college, it took earning discipline in the United States Marine Corps and finding the right educational environment for Schoeffler to fully commit himself to a college education.

Schoeffler  transferred to University of St. Thomas in May 2010, to find an academic setting that redefines his educational goals,  keeps him motivated, caters to his needs as a veteran and provides  leadership opportunities. He is currently pursuing a degree in history and also serves as the assistant coach for the UST Celts Men’s Basketball Team. Schoeffler plans to graduate from UST in the fall of 2011 and hopes to teach and coach high school basketball.

Schoeffler briefly attended San Jacinto College before joining the Marine Corps.  He served in three tours of combat and had the honor of being a member of President Obama’s security detail for the 2008 Presidential Inauguration.  After leaving the Marine Corps, he returned to San Jacinto College, became a personal trainer and earned certificates in performance enhancement and corrective exercise from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. 

“When I got out of high school, I just assumed I would work at a plant somewhere,” Schoeffler said. “Joining the Marine Corps gave me discipline, but it wasn’t until I came to St. Thomas that I learned academic discipline. When I was on a big campus, I felt lost in the shuffle of things, and it was difficult to find much motivation. Before I transferred to UST, I just wanted to hurry up and finish classes. Now I love being on campus. I’m not here to pass classes; I’m here to actually learn. The professors instill that desire in us. They will not only answer your question in class, but they will invite you to come to their office after class to discuss your questions in more detail.”

Schoeffler was ready to transfer to a four-year university when the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill was revised to cover tuition at private universities.  Schoeffler said he started looking around at private universities in the Houston area and he was initially attracted to St. Thomas because UST President Dr. Robert Ivany is a retired United States Army Major General. Schoeffler praised both UST’s transfer admissions staff as well as the Office of Veteran Services.

 “I really didn’t want to go to another big school where I come to class, listen, leave and go home without knowing anyone on campus or knowing your professors,” he said. “I read about General Ivany, and I thought a place that has a man like that in leadership of the university has to be great with veterans. The first time I talked to the director of Veteran Services, I knew this is where I wanted to go.

“UST’s transfer admissions counselor, Cathy Ruhnke, was the first person I met at UST, and she made me feel at home the moment I got here,” he said. “Cathy sat down with me, talked about my interests and how  my courses would transfer, and took me on a tour of the campus. I remember thinking if everyone at the university is as nice as she is, I’m golden. And so far, everyone has been just as friendly.”

Outside of the classroom, Schoeffler has found his niche on the basketball court. His involvement with the team began when Todd Smith, UST Athletic Director and Men’s Basketball Coach, invited him to work out and play with the team during summer open gym sessions. Schoeffler’s leadership skills, experience in personal training and desire for a future coaching career made him perfectly suited to be an assistant coach.

“One of the things I miss about being in the Marine Corps is constantly being part of a group,” Schoeffler said. “Helping out with the basketball  team fulfills that. I like that sense of leadership, helping the workouts for the team, and having the players come to me for advice. St. Thomas creates opportunities for me to be a leader, and I would never be in the leadership role that I have right now if I was at any other school than St. Thomas. I am grateful for it.”

For more information about transferring to UST, attend a Transfer Open House at 9 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 26 or schedule a personal meeting with the transfer admissions staff.

Learn more about opportunities for veterans at UST.

Learn more about the Celts Men’s Basketball team.