Outstanding business students excel in studies

For University of Houston-Victoria student Cole Guthrie, getting his undergraduate degree was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Cole Guthrie

The beginning of his college education started when he tried to get a haircut but realized his usual place was closed for the day. Instead of going home, he saw that registration for college courses was going on and decided to enroll.

“School was a way for me to re-invent myself,” Guthrie said. “If you see school from the perspective of embracing the knowledge that your professors spent most of their lives learning about to teach you, it makes it easier to be successful because you appreciate that knowledge.”

Guthrie, a Victoria resident, recently was named the Fall 2020 Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the UHV School of Business Administration. Jaclyn Ramirez of Needville was named the Fall 2020 Outstanding Graduate Student for the school.

Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UHV has postponed its 2020 graduation ceremonies.

Guthrie, who moved in 2010 to Victoria from California, started his educational journey that year at Victoria College while also working full time at Sam’s Club. After completing a year of college, Guthrie put his education on hold and began working at both Sam’s Club and for UPS. He worked those jobs for a couple of years before becoming a full-time UPS driver. However, a leg injury and complications with the injury made him reevaluate his career and future. He decided it was time to go back to school.

“I wasn’t worried about going back to school because at that point, I had spent years working, and I was able to transfer my work ethic into my schoolwork,” he said. “I take work and my schoolwork seriously. To me, knowledge is more valuable than anything else. I am there for a goal.”

Danny Chiang

Guthrie became interested in accounting during his time at VC. In 2018, Guthrie transferred to UHV to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and became a full-time student. Guthrie said learning about accounting came easily to him, and he appreciated when business faculty members, including associate professor Danny Chiang, made learning fun.

“Cole showed strong motivation to absorb tax knowledge,” Chiang said. “He frequently raised questions in class, and I could tell from his questions that he really knew the materials. He could be a great tax accountant in the future if he chooses.”

Working as a CPA would be a change of pace for Guthrie, who had become accustomed to working physical jobs. Since becoming a full-time student, he has spent his time outside of the classroom studying and preparing for projects. Although some classes were more challenging than others, Guthrie knew that at the end of the day he was gaining knowledge. He kept that in mind on his most tiresome days.

And even though his undergraduate journey is coming to an end, Guthrie doesn’t see receiving a degree as an ending, but as a beginning. He thanked his family for encouraging him and the business school faculty members for all their help.

“For me, this is more of a milestone marker because this is the beginning of something new,” he said. “We all face challenges and have to find ways to overcome them. UHV was a way for me to overcome a challenge, and being a student gave me purpose again.”

Jaclyn Ramirez

Ramirez will graduate this month with a Strategic Master of Business Administration with a concentration in management. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration in 1999 from Texas A&M University at College Station. Ramirez is a native of Refugio and began taking graduate courses from UHV in 2011 when she lived in Victoria. She now works as a zone development manager for a pharmaceutical company and said the graduate degree has helped her develop her skills as a leader.

Although Ramirez has had a full-time job and raised a family during her time as a student, she has maintained outstanding grades, according to School of Business Administration faculty and staff.

“Jaclyn has maintained a 4.0 grade point average for several years,” said Rosie McCusker, manager of student recruitment and community outreach for the business school. “She is an excellent example of the driven and hard-working students we have at UHV.”

Rosie McCusker

Ramirez said she chose to get her MBA from UHV because all the graduate courses she needed were offered online. As someone who has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, Ramirez has had to travel and move for different work assignments. She needed a class schedule that worked around her life.

“There have been so many times through the years and before COVID, when I would be working on my homework on plane rides and studying for my classes in hotels during work trips,” Ramirez said. “Nights and the weekends were my school time, so I am very thankful that UHV had an online program.”

Between work and school, Ramirez had very little down time. When she first started graduate courses, her three children were in elementary school. Ramirez has had to lean on her children and her husband, J.R., for support so that she can spend weekends working on class projects and studying.

Her family has been understanding of her busy schedule and has kept Ramirez motivated throughout the years. She thanked her husband for all his help and her children for supporting her decision to earn her graduate degree.

“One day, my 14-year-old daughter told me out of the blue that I was her role model,” Ramirez said. “That meant a lot to me. She sees how hard I work, and even though I am a parent, it’s still a little shock and so nice to hear your children say something like that. I would not be here without the support of my family.”

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.

Amber Aldaco