November 9, 2018 | George Mattingly II
From solving math and science equations in high school to developing business operations
for NASA with her own company, Denise Navarro says her education has been a crucial
factor to her success and her life.
Navarro began at College of the Mainland but knew in order to go further in her education she would have to find a university that aligned with her career and academic goals. She found that place at University of Houston-Clear Lake.
“UHCL was the next logical step for me,” she said. “I knew it was close by and that it was a place where I could build my education and my career at the same time.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, Navarro went straight to work developing code and building software for government agencies and businesses. However, she soon realized that something was missing.
“I loved my work, but I realized I also loved working with people and making sure that the technology I was building would work for them. I wanted my career to be something that combined technology with working with people.”
Again, Navarro turned to UHCL to help elevate her career. This time, she shifted her focus to enter the MBA program in the College of Business.
“As a working mom with two kids, I already knew UHCL was so conveniently located,” she said. “UHCL allowed me flexibility to continue my education parallel to my career. The program was in line with the goals I had for my future, and my need to balance my work and school life with my family life.”
While in pursuit of her education, Navarro’s career was gaining momentum. She was working as a NASA contractor developing business infrastructure and operations for several different companies of various sizes, including the federal government, when she realized she could start a company of her own. She incorporated Logical Innovations in 1999 and the company became fully operation in 2006. The company offers a wide range of support services such as financial services, information technology, strategic communications, outreach, and program management to clients such as NASA, across the agency and country.
Soon, Navarro found herself working alongside her children, Michael and Erica. Both followed their mother’s example, transitioning from community college to UHCL to each earn two degrees and then to work at Logical Innovations. The company has grown to more than 250 employees with offices in Texas, California, Washington, D.C., Florida and New Mexico.
“I always say that your kids are watching you, so you have to practice what you preach,” Navarro said with a laugh. “They saw the path I took and decided it would work for them too. The university has been instrumental in making us who we are today with a solid education and excellent training.”
Knowing firsthand the impact of the UHCL education, Navarro is helping to put the dream of higher education within reach for students by giving back to student scholarships. In 2015, Logical Innovations, Inc. contributed $100,000 to create an endowment in UHCL’s Hawk Advantage Scholarship program. The award provides financial aid for freshmen through all four years of their undergraduate education.
“No one is self-made,” Navarro said. “I don’t know where I’d be without the strong support from family and friends. I know there are many students who have strong desire and ability to continue their education, but don’t have the means. So, we wanted to offer that support for them.”
Navarro is also doing her part to support STEM education at UHCL. She currently serves as a member of the industry advisory board for UHCL’s College of Science and Engineering to provide valuable insight on developing curriculum to meet the evolving needs of the STEM industry. Additionally, she has given another $25,000 to the college to support students pursuing degrees in STEM.
“No matter what path someone takes, a STEM education helps build a foundation to see things in a different way and learn about the world,” she said. “It taught me real problem-solving skills that I use in my career and in my daily life, and that think it is important for students to learn.”
For Navarro, giving back represents her aspiration to support others like her and building a stronger community for future generations.
“I believe those who have the ability to give to others should pay it forward,” she said. “There are students who could take the wrong path in life without support, so we have to do our part to steer them in the right direction and positively impact others. It’s my hope that when they look back on their journey, they will want to continue this trend.”
Learn more about how to give back to UHCL at www.uhcl.edu/giving.