Outstanding education students persevere to earn degrees
Discipline and perseverance pave the way to success, say two University of Houston-Victoria students who recently were recognized for their academic excellence by the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development.
“Don’t talk about it. Be about it,” said Patrick Zapien, a first-generation college student set to receive his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology later this month. “That’s been my motto for myself for a long time. It’s helped me push myself.”
Shawn Gilman, also graduating this month, concurred.
“The key to success is working hard,” Gilman said, noting the importance of a supportive family, too.
Gilman, a Katy resident, was named the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development Fall 2021 Outstanding Graduate Student. Zapien of Houston was chosen as the Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the school.
“Patrick and Shawn are just two of our dedicated students who are ready to make their mark in the world,” said Rachel Martinez, interim dean of the school. “They each worked hard to earn their degrees, and we wish them all the best in their careers.”
Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold three fall graduation ceremonies on Dec. 11 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane, in Katy. The ceremony for graduates of the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development will be at 10 a.m., followed by the School of Arts & Sciences at 1 p.m. and the School of Business Administration at 4 p.m. A live-streaming broadcast of the ceremonies will be available at www.uhv.edu/graduation.
Gilman will graduate with a Master of Education in adult and higher education on the discipline track with a specialization in teaching management, as well as a Strategic Master of Business Administration with a concentration in management. He then plans to apply to doctoral programs in management.
“Hopefully, my master’s degrees will make me more competitive for getting accepted to a Ph.D. program,” he said.
He learned about discipline during his former career as a U.S. Air Force medic, which inspired him to get the advanced education he would need to teach at the college level.
“In the military, as you progress, you start teaching more, and I really enjoyed it,” Gilman said. “As you go up in rank, a lot of what you do centers around leadership and management, which I enjoyed, too. So when I retired from the military, I set a goal to become a university professor.”
The biggest challenge has been balancing the heavy course loads of two graduate programs, he said. But with the discipline he learned in the military and the support he has had from his wife, he was able to succeed in completing both degrees in two years.
“We have a toddler, so my wife has been great with taking care of him and making sure that I have time to study,” he said, adding that his wife is also working on dual master’s degrees.
Zapien also is paired with a supportive and ambitious wife. She helped him overcome the challenge of getting through school as a mature student paying his own way by encouraging him to stop working so he could finish school while they lived on her teacher’s salary, he said.
“I didn’t have any help getting through college until I met my wife. Having that support where I hadn’t had it before was huge,” he said, noting he is eager and ready to return the favor as she enters medical school.
After graduating, Zapien plans to teach at the high school level and become a coach. He already shows the mindset needed to encourage students and teams.
The key to getting through school all comes back to perseverance, he said, adding, “Just keep going, no matter what.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.
Staci Semrad, Special to UHV