November 11, 2019 | Jim Townsend
Assistant Professor of Nursing Karen Alexander says she knew she wanted to be a nurse since she was 6 years old. However, she also knew the path that would lead her there was through the military, following in the footsteps of her father, brother, aunts, uncles and cousins. She shared her journey with the University of Houston-Clear Lake community at a special ceremony honoring veterans held Veterans Day, Nov. 11, hosted by the university's Capt. Wendell M. Wilson Office of Veteran Services.
Alexander, director for the RN-to-BSN program at UHCL Pearland, spent 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, entering as an airman and retiring with a nursing degree and captain's bars. "It is said that the military will make you or break you," she said. "However, I don’t agree with that. I believe that the military makes you by shaping you."
Combat deployed during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Alexander said her experiences allowed her to gain perspective "not only of the world, but most of all, on myself."
Her GI benefits allowed her to earn her doctorate in Nursing Education. "So to my fellow service men and women veterans as you pursue your education goals, continue to keep your eye on the prize," she said. "Remember it is OK to seek out help. Take deep breaths along the journey and tell yourself, 'If I just keep breathing then I am achieving.'"
The ceremony, held in the Bayou Building's Garden Room and attended by administrators, faculty, staff, students and guests, featured Presentation of the Colors by the Texas City High School Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard. UHCL General Services representative Fran Davis sang the National Anthem. Troy Rudd, College of Science and Engineering student and U.S. Army veteran, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Capt. Wendell M. Wilson, USAF(Ret.), for whom UHCL's veteran services office is named, shared greetings.
UHCL was recently ranked among the top 10% of all colleges and universities in College Factual's 2020 Best for Vets category. College Factual scores academic programs, student services and scholarships to help students choose their school. Against 1,751 other institutions, UHCL ranked 112th for "veteran friendliness," moving up from 133rd in 2019. In Texas-only rankings, UHCL ranked 7th among 83 colleges and universities. In its methodology, the organization ranked veteran affordability, policies, resources, overall quality and veteran satisfaction.