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USTís King & Queen Demonstrate Service, Leadership

The University of St. Thomas’ 2012 Mardi Gras King and Queen not only have a passion to help others, they have an ambition to do it on a big scale. And given their already sterling records of service and leadership, John Ruff and Rosemary Tran have demonstrated they have what it takes to make a difference.

Each year the University selects two students who best exemplify the school’s commitment to educating leaders of faith and character and the royal couple are recognized at UST’s annual Mardi Gras Gala. At this Fat Tuesday bash the King and Queen not only express the gratitude of the entire student body to scholarship donors but showcase the core Basilian values of goodness, discipline and knowledge that UST cultivates each day in thousands of students.

2012 Mardi Gras King and QueenJohn Ruff is a senior political science major from Minnesota with deep ties to UST. His mother is a devoted Celt alum and her marriage to John’s father was celebrated by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB. Ruff met his fiancé at UST and the two will marry in June at the Chapel of St. Basil.

He has played goalkeeper on UST men’s soccer team for four years and was named an NAIA Champion of Character and an NAIA Academic All-American.  During the 2011 legislative session he received a paid fellowship to serve on the staff of the Texas House of Representatives. As a policy analyst on the Committee of Public Health, Ruff worked 80-hour weeks drafting legislative briefs, meeting with interest groups and getting a crash-course in politics. 

Seeing first-hand how public policy can impact so many peoples’ lives helped convince him to pursue a career in public service. After graduating, Ruff will spend two years in Teach for America as a social studies teacher at an underprivileged school in Houston. Then, he plans to attend law school and eventually pursue a career in politics, perhaps running for office himself.  

As a small, tight-knit school in the heart of a big city, UST offers the best of both worlds, Ruff said. And the school’s emphasis on good character and strong values has left an indelible mark, he added.

As the recipient of a Cullen Endowed Scholarship and an Out-of-State Catholicity Scholarship, Ruff appreciates the generosity that made his experience possible.

“Without these scholarships I wouldn’t be at St. Thomas, I wouldn’t have met my future wife and I wouldn’t be in a position to help others down the road,” Ruff said. “More than anything I want to help those in need in much the same way these scholarships helped me.”

2012 Mardi Gras King and QueenRosemary Tran is a senior biology major from Houston and will graduate in May with a minor in theology as well. Her busy schedule is packed with school, campus activities, work and volunteering at her parish. Tran serves as a UST Presidential Ambassador  and is an officer with the Health Occupations Students of America and the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society groups on campus and competes on the Tennis Club. She also works part-time at UST’s Jerabeck Gym and at the Annunciation Orthodox School library.

At her home parish of St. Justin Martyr, she coordinates the Vietnamese youth choir, teaches 9th grade CCE, helps with the children’s liturgy and is a Confirmation retreat leader. On top of all that, she has squeezed in volunteer assignments at the neonatal unit at the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, as a medical clinic assistant at Healthcare for the Homeless, and a medical mission trip to El Salvador last summer.

The well-rounded experience offered by St. Thomas helped her thrive academically and spiritually, Tran said.

“For me, the University of St. Thomas was a solution to the dilemma of having everything I value close at hand – my faith, my family and my home,” Tran said.

And as a recipient of the V.J. Guinan Presidential full-tuition scholarship, Tran knows she has a special responsibility to be a blessing for others.  Although still unsure of what path her career in health sciences will take, she unabashedly aspires to save the world, or at least some of it.

“Wherever life takes us after St. Thomas, we all strive to embody the values we learned and to keep growing in faith, knowledge and understanding,” Tran said. “I want to be one of those leaders of faith and character that the University will be proud to call one of its own.”