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Goals, Hard Work – and Dinner with the UH Chancellor – Drive Perfect GPAs

Jessica Guillen, Carla Flores, Paxton Tsika and Meghan Galvan  From left: College of Education students Jessica Guillen, Carla Flores, Paxton Tsika and Meghan Galvan graduated on May 10, 2018, with perfect 4.0 GPAs.

Posted May 16, 2018 – The road to graduation is not always easy – balancing school, work and family. Yet with discipline, motivation and support, four students from the University of Houston College of Education recently graduated with perfect 4.0 GPAs.

Before leading the processional as banner bearers at commencement on May 9, the esteemed students shared their personal stories.

(Find photos from graduation on the College of Education’s Facebook page.)

Carla Flores: the planner

Carla Flores transferred to UH in 2015 from a local community college, shortly after she had moved from Honduras. From the get-go she was determined to graduate with a 4.0 as she had maintained perfect grades throughout her academic career. Her parents had taught her to work hard and meet deadlines.

“I’m all for no procrastination,” Flores said. “Mom and Dad always told me to do my things on time. They taught me, and I kept it very strong to my heart.”

When Flores moved to Houston, her dedication to her education increased, despite having to work full time to support herself. This self-discipline proved to be especially important as she juggled all her responsibilities. Outside of school, she worked 40 hours per week and had an internship during her last semester.

Flores, a graduate of the Human Development & Family Studies program, said she has three job offers but is hoping to escape the southern heat. She plans to travel to Canada to attend graduate school. She wants to study academic counseling, so she can help students who may not know about all the resources and routes to success in school.

Meghan Galvan: the enthusiast

When Meghan Galvan began UH as a freshman, she was terrified of failing out of college. Several people had told her how difficult college was, how different it was from high school. That fear drove her through her core classes – and she finished her first year with a 4.0. Through hard work and dedication, she realized, college would not defeat her.

Her sophomore year, Galvan traded in her fear of failing for a new reason to succeed in school: dinner with UH Chancellor Renu Khator. Galvan had seen a picture of prior 4.0 graduates dining with Khator and immediately set her sights on reaching that reward.

As Galvan finished her core classes, pursued her teaching major and completed a teaching internship at Blackshear Elementary in Third Ward, her family and friends continued to remind her of the goal she had set to graduate with a perfect GPA.

“It started out kind of as a joke, but if I was ever not feeling motivated, my family would remind me of dinner with Renu as my goal,” Galvan said.

Four years and lots of hard work later, Galvan’s dream of dining with Khator came true. On the Monday evening before graduation, Galvan joined the other students, along with College of Education Dean Bob McPherson, at Khator’s home for dinner.

This summer Galvan will work as an educator at the Children’s Museum of Houston before moving to Louisiana, where she has a job as a middle school science teacher.

Paxton Tsika: the competitor

Paxton Tsika began college with a mission: to be the best. She had graduated from high school as salutatorian with a GPA high above a 4.0 due to extra points for advanced classes. She wanted her grades just as high in college. After attending Wharton Junior College for two years, Tsika transferred to UH Sugar Land to study education.

“I like to think education is in my blood. Everyone in my family is a teacher or a coach,” she said. “I feel like if you’re going to go to get an education to work, your job should be meaningful. I can’t think of anything more meaningful than working with students every day.”

While completing her degree in teaching and learning, Tsika also worked part time at a preschool in Richmond. Post-graduation, she’s accepted a job as a third-grade math and science teacher. One day, she says, she hopes to continue her education and teach future teachers at the university level.

Jessica Guillen

Guillen, a Human Development & Family Studies major and psychology minor, was unavailable for comment.

–By Claire Andersen

–Photo by Kathy Patnaude

College of Education Spring 2018 graduates: statistics