College of Liberal Arts
and Social Sciences

The University of Houston
402 Agnes Arnold Hall
Houston, TX 77204-3000
Phone: 713-743-4002
Fax: 713-743-2990

News & Events

CLASS staff member graduates with a 4.0 GPA and political science degree

Information Technology Analyst Joseph Lazzaro earned his B.A. while working full time

Joseph Lazzaro places his tongue firmly in his cheek when he says he’s the “perfect dinner guest.”

Emily Post and other etiquette experts strongly advise against discussing religion or politics at work or the dinner table. Lazzaro, who graduated in December with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a minor in religious studies and a 4.0 grade point average, loves controversial subjects with his meals.

When he isn’t grappling with politics or religion, Lazzaro can be found at his full time job as an Information Technology Analyst in the School of Art. Since March 2005, Lazzaro has been responsible for the computer labs and tech support for the faculty, staff and students in one of the College’s most creative departments.

“I really fell into I.T.,” said Lazzaro. “I began working for an internet company right out of high school and have been in this line of work ever since.”

In the summer of 2006, after cajoling from his wife Jennifer, Lazzaro decided to begin pursuing his bachelor’s degree.

“She pressured me to start,” he said. “But then I was hooked. I loved the process…learning, research, reading, and writing.”

He applied to UH through the Adult Admission program, which allows applicants to enroll in a non-degree status without submitting transcripts or test scores.

“I initially thought that I would get my degree in I.T.,” said Lazzaro. “But I quickly realized I was having more fun in my political science classes. I.T. is predictable; I didn’t find it as intellectually stimulating as studying the big problems in life discussed in political science or religious studies.”

For the next six years, Lazzaro worked full time and balanced between two and four classes per semester. He took advantage of the staff tuition scholarship which gave him three hours off per week to take classes. He also took classes online and in the evenings.

“There was some stress at times,” said Lazzaro. “But because I was older, I think I had a different perspective. I took classes I was interested in and had a connection to. My courses never felt like work.”

Lazzaro is especially appreciative to Dr. Gregory Weiher, professor of political science, who served as a mentor to him during his undergraduate work.

“Students like Joseph are among the greatest rewards of teaching,” said Dr. Weiher. “I am fond of just about all of my students, but Joseph is one of those students with whom you have a real conversation about ideas, and about their consequences. You don’t really teach a student like Joseph.  In fact, you can’t stop him from learning.  It is a great pleasure to participate in that learning with him.”

Now that graduation is behind him, Lazzaro is taking his time to decide on the right graduate program for him. He is especially interested in understanding religion and how it affects political expectations.

“My areas of interest are a bit unusual,” admits Lazzaro. “So I want to find a program with great faculty that I want to work with.”

- By Monica Byars