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University of St. Thomas Houston students on the Academic MallUniversity of St. Thomas students and alumni are successful in their fields of study and careers. Highlighting their great work, both academic and professional shows how the University is educating leaders of faith and characters. Read our Success Stories below.


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Nov 28, 2018  Drama Grad Ashley Parra’s Bright Light Shines on UST
University of St. Thomas - Houston Drama graduate Ashley Parra thumbnail

Earning a college education means taking brave steps to find your path. But sometimes we find our courageous path by accident. That’s what happened to Ashley Parra when she transferred to the University of St. Thomas. “The Drama department was so welcoming,” she said, “that I soon had a new major, entirely by accident.”

Nov 27, 2018  Alumni Participate in 2018 Oilman Texas Triathlon
University of St. Thomas – Houston Alumni Board and Board of Directors members Aaron Stryk, Justin Smith and Shelley Grahmann at the 2018 Oilman Texas Triathlon thumbnail

Aaron Stryk ’01 and Justin Smith ’03, president and vice president of the UST Alumni Board, respectively, and UST Board of Directors member Shelley Grahmann ’02 participated as a relay team in the 2018 Oilman Texas Triathlon. “I loved having the opportunity to compete with my fellow alums,” Stryk said. “I love cycling, and getting the chance to be a part of a relay team with my friends has been incredible!”

Nov 15, 2018  Bold Vision Drives Theology Major to Transform a Continent
University of St. Thomas – Houston Theology major Alex Yemeck thumbnail

Houstonian Alex Yemeck, a 37-year-old part-time student of Theology and founder of a charitable organization for orphans and survivors of abuse, is advocating boldly for a bright point of light across the Atlantic Ocean. Alex is a devout Catholic and part of the African migration to the U.S. and elsewhere. He wakes up and falls asleep every day excited about improving a budding orphanage in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the city where he grew up.

Nov 13, 2018  Alumna Finds New Beginning
Erika Sanchez

University of St. Thomas alumna Erika Sanchez ’18 uses a setback to find success and, ultimately, reconciles with the past.

Nov 08, 2018  Walters Receives John and Drucie Chase Young Builders Award
Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters, University of St. Thomas - Houston School of Education Assistant Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs thumbnail

Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters, University of St. Thomas School of Education Assistant Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, will receive the “John and Drucie Chase Young Builders” Award at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Gala on November 17.  The gala, which raises funds for future scholarships, also honors Neil and Maria Bush.

Nov 07, 2018  Expansive International Studies Degree Opens Surprising Job Door for Graduate
Eduardo Flores Zazueta

It’s a mistake to pigeonhole International Studies majors as destined to be diplomats or mediators in government or nonprofit. International Studies offers options. Four months before his December 2018 graduation ceremony at UST, International Studies (IS) major Eduardo Flores-Zazueta already had secured his part-time position as a research analyst at a private financial institution, Amerisource Business Capital.

Nov 07, 2018  Celts Make RRAC History
University of St. Thomas - Houston volleyball player celebrates

With the NCAA Division III exploratory membership underway, the University of St. Thomas Athletics program is showcasing its talent with victory after victory in the 2018 Red River Athletic Conference Regular Season Championships.

Oct 30, 2018  For Veteran Student, UST Bolsters Confidence & Goals
University of St. Thomas - Houston veteran student Kimberly Villegas thumbnail

Kimberly Villegas has always had a big vision of success. Inspired by her father and brother who are both mechanical engineers, she saw the Army as a way to learn about technology while discovering her potential in the world. When looking for the right college, Kimberly was impressed by the help she received from UST’s Office of Admissions. “When I went to UST’s three-day orientation, I met the most amazing people,” she said. “The faculty and staff here, especially Trisha Ruiz, have been so patient. She really knows how to get things done.” 

Oct 24, 2018  New 3D Printers Take Innovation at UST into the Next Dimension
3D Printer at University of St. Thomas - Houston

3D printers are revolutionizing classrooms around the country. With its endless creative possibilities, 3D printing encourages students to participate in hands-on learning experiences. As a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the University of St. Thomas received the Department of Education’s HSI STEM Grant to increase the retention rate of low-income or Hispanic students. With the money provided by the grant, STEM programs can explore different strategies to enhance the learning experience among students. 

Oct 23, 2018  Starlight on a Clear Desert Night – Luis Varela Rekindles His Passion for Discovery
University of St. Thomas - Houston Computer Science major Luis Varela thumbnail

Finding your way through life can be challenging for the best of us. After graduating from high school in 1996, Luis Varela's 12-year military career was a challenging and exciting adventure. He often found solace in staring at the stars on clear desert nights in the middle of nowhere, far from lights and civilization. During those nights under the desert stars, Luis decided to complete his education. He credits UST’s Veteran Services for giving him vital continuing support during his studies in computer science.

Oct 05, 2018  UST Welcomes Trisha Ruiz, New Director of Forthcoming Veteran Success Center
University of St. Thomas - Houston director of Veteran Success Center Trisha Ruiz, thumbnail

“If you build it, they will come.” Trisha Ruiz, new director of the forthcoming Veteran Success Center, summarizes her vision with this statement. After six years of military service as a police officer and staff sergeant, followed by seven years of experience developing veteran services programs for Texas universities, Trisha knows first-hand what veteran students need.

Aug 29, 2018  Alumna Wins 2018 "My Oreo Creation" Contest and Epic Prize
University of St. Thomas - Houston communication grad wins 2018

The votes are in and UST alumna Eden Folwell is the winner of the 2018 “My Oreo Creation” cookie-designing contest! Folwell’s Cherry Cola Oreos were selected as one of the top three finalists back in April when the new flavors debuted. After a rigorous tasting and voting period, Oreo fans from around the globe declared Eden’s flavor the winner on August 8, and she is now $500,000 richer.

Aug 27, 2018  UST Welcomes Biggest Undergrad Class in 71-Year History
Arthur Ortiz, University of St. Thomas - Houston VP of Enrollment Management thumbnail

The University of St. Thomas is delighted to welcome the biggest incoming undergraduate class in our 71-year history! Adorning the University crest, our motto Crescamus in Christo (May We Grow in Christ) reminds us constantly of our intention to grow and serve more students and members of the community.

Aug 27, 2018  Women’s Soccer Team Receives RRAC Championship Rings
University of St. Thomas - Houston Women's Soccer RRAC Championship Rings thumbnail

The University of St. Thomas Women’s Soccer Team gathered together on August 19 for their Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) Championship Rings Presentation, the first ring ceremony in the Athletic Department’s 12-year history. The team won the 2017 RRAC Tournament Championship and qualified for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Tournament, placing them as one of the Top 32 teams in the nation. 

Aug 13, 2018  Dr. Brian Malechuk Named TCASE Distinguished Director of the Year
Dr. Brian Malechuk, University of St. Thomas - Houston thumbnail image

We’re pleased to announce that the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education (TCASE) recently named Dr. Brian Malechuk as the 2018 Distinguished Director of the Year for the State of Texas! “I’ve had an excellent experience at UST,” Dr. Malechuk said. “The programs here are way ahead of the game in making sure students are successful.”

Jul 11, 2018  History Grad Whitney Nell Stewart Prepares to Lead into the Future
University of St. Thomas - Houston History grad Whitney Nell Stewart - thumbnail

When Whitney Nell Stewart was in high school, she often walked around the UST campus, admiring Philip Johnson’s elegant Modernist buildings. Besides the memories of her many walks around campus, Whitney liked the cultural and spiritual diversity she found at UST. “The curriculum allowed me to study multiple theologies and faith traditions,” she said. “It was a real eye-opener and gave me a better understanding of how faith contributes toward activism and social justice.”

Jun 14, 2018  Andy Warhol Captures Bold History at UST
Andy Warhol speaking at the University of St. Thomas - Houston

Fifty years ago, Andy Warhol first stepped onto the University of St. Thomas campus with a mission. Laboring with faculty, he was to collaborate with other contemporary artists on a religious art exhibition for the Catholic chapel at the 1968 World’s Fair in San Antonio. This partnership began in 1964 when Dominique de Menil, the chair of the Art History Department, commissioned Warhol to make a film that reflected his religious sentiments. That was a daring move, given the fact that his art had only been known for its irreverence toward tradition and quirky (but sometimes brutal) banality. Dominique heard rumors there was more to Warhol than his critics were printing.

Jun 11, 2018  Judy Overton Earns MLA, Discovers New Passion
University of St. Thomas – Houston Master of Liberal Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies graduate Judy Overton, thumbnail image

In 2004, life was good for Judy Overton and her husband Tom. But when Tom was diagnosed with renal cancer, for a moment their world stopped. After a brave three-year fight against the disease, Tom passed away in 2007, leaving a large void in Judy’s life. By rediscovering old passions and uncovering new ones, Judy has earned her MLA in Interdisciplinary Studies and found a new message for families facing cancer.

Jun 04, 2018  School of Education and Human Services Honors Students
Dr. Richard Ludwick and attendee at School of Education and Human Services annual celebration

The School of Education and Human Services held their Annual Recognition Celebration to honor its best and brightest students with scholarships and awards on Thursday, May 17, 2018, on the University of St. Thomas campus. 

May 07, 2018  UST 2018 Grad Success Stories – Grads Clear Hurdles to Triumph
Johnathon Vermaelen, University of St. Thomas - Houston criminology grad

The University of St. Thomas is a vibrant, diverse community of people who understand that the best way to lead is to lift others. The atmosphere of servant leadership at UST gives our students a unique drive to be bold and accomplish great things. This year’s graduate success stories are inspiration for anyone striving to reach full their potential, even in the face of serious obstacles.

May 07, 2018  Soccer Player from Nigeria Discovers Passion for Coaching
University of St. Thomas - Houston finance grad Kelvin

Kelvin “Manny” Iloba, his siblings and mother were at home in Manchester, England, 10 years ago when it was stormed by more than a dozen immigration officers. The family’s appeal for political asylum from Nigeria had been denied, and Manny only had time to grab a few soccer medals before they were arrested. Through the winding road of pursuing a better life for himself and his family, Manny’s passion for soccer was the constant that carried him through.

May 07, 2018  Servant Leader Bonnie Brock Weathers the Storm
University of St. Thomas - Houston Master of Educational Leadership grad Bonnie Brock

In late August 2017, Bonnie Brock was entering her last year of the Master of Educational Leadership program at the University of St. Thomas, looking forward to graduating the following spring. But in one day, Hurricane Harvey dumped a season’s worth of rain on Port Arthur, flooding the entire city under six feet of water. Overnight, Bonnie was faced with a whole new set of priorities far more important than graduating on time. 

May 07, 2018  Johnathon Vermaelen Aspires to Career in Civil Rights Law
University of St. Thomas - Houston criminology grad Johnathon Vermaelen

“Education is essential for just about anything you want to do in life,” said Johnathon Vermaelen, who will be the first UST student to graduate with a double major in Criminology, Law and Society and Political Science. It’s because education is so important that Johnathon has persevered toward his goal of earning a bachelor’s degree, in spite of the challenges that come with being on the autism spectrum. 

May 07, 2018  Alana Tristan’s Inspired Journey to Community Service
Alana Tristan, University of St. Thomas - Houston psychology grad

When she walks on stage to receive her B.A. in Psychology, you won’t be able to tell by looking at Alana Tristan that she’s disabled in any way. Alana was born with spina bifida. After years of therapy and struggle, she has overcome her physical disability and is inspired to help others realize their full potential as well.

Apr 24, 2018  Get Clinical Experience to Become a Professional Counselor
University of St. Thomas - Houston Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Cohort, Spring 2018

Students who undertake the Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program at UST see a great need in the world for meaningful, holistic counseling support. Mental health issues affect millions of people, sometimes with dire consequences. Diana Obulaney, Ruba Afifi and Katie Ranton, three CMHC students nearing graduation, each felt a strong call to learn professional counseling skills so they could serve the needs of society.

Apr 20, 2018  Five UST Voice Majors Hit High Notes in Singing Competition
University of St. Thomas - Houston singing competition winners

Seven singers from the UST Music department competed on April 7, 2018, in the Houston chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition on the UH campus, and five placed in the final round.

Apr 13, 2018  Forthcoming Innovation Hub Will Offer Hotbed of Opportunities
Houston Major Sylvester Turner

UST will support and participate in the forthcoming innovation hub in Houston’s Midtown Innovation District, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced. The innovation hub will give students, faculty, researchers, alumni and entrepreneurs a space for research and development, career training and collaboration across disciplines, fostering the growth of early-stage startups.

Apr 10, 2018  Liberal Arts Grad Lands Distinguished Federal Clerkship
University of St. Thomas – Houston Liberal Arts grad Alexandra Grafton thumbnail

UST graduate Alexandra Grafton has been chosen to serve as clerk to Judge Carolyn King of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Competition for this federal judicial clerkship was intense, with hundreds of well-qualified applicants from highly ranked law schools vying for the honor.

Mar 12, 2018  Biology Alumnus Thrives in Graduate School at Yale
University of St. Thomas - Houston biology alumnus Christopher Anderson

UST Biology grad Christopher Anderson shares his successes so far, following his graduation in June 2015. Now in his second year of graduate school at Yale University, he’s excited to delve further into studying the biological and biomedical sciences.

Mar 02, 2018  International Student Experience – The One Who Looks... Finds
Renata Garcia, international student and finance major at the University of St. Thomas - Houston

El que mira encuentra. The one who looks... finds. Renata Garcia remembers her grandfather reassuring her with these words anytime she was in doubt. “You just need to look for opportunities,” Renata said. “If you focus and work hard, the world can be yours.”

Feb 19, 2018  UST Sets New Records at Mock Trial Regional Tournament
Mock Trial Award Winners Outstanding Attorney Anita Creech and Outstanding Witness Carlos Gutierrez - University of St. Thomas Houston

The University of St. Thomas set impressive new 7-1 and 4-4 records at the Mock Trial Regional Tournament at UT Dallas from February 16­-18, and the "A" Team will advance to the Opening Round Championships in Memphis, Tennessee from March 23-25.

Feb 09, 2018  Become a Defender of the Common Good
University of St. Thomas - Houston aster of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling grad Rie Kojima Angeli

Mental health counselors offer invaluable, often life-saving support to individuals struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, abuse trauma and many other mental health issues. UST's Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) program takes direct aim at healing these societal wounds, uplifting people to overcome heavy burdens.

Jan 23, 2018  Award Sends Chemistry Professor to Leadership Workshop
University of St. Thomas - Houston Chemistry and Physics Assistant Professor Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth

One of only 15 applicants selected from across the nation, University of St. Thomas Assistant Professor Dr. Javoris Hollingsworth received a Leadership Development Award from the Younger Chemists Committee (YCC) of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Jan 23, 2018  Your Future Is Calling – Answer and Advance
University of St. Thomas - Houston alumni video still

We all want to live a great life of meaning and purpose. How can you focus your efforts to ensure you excel in your career while making a positive contribution to society? Watch this video to learn how UST graduates have unlocked their power.