Marilyn McCullough and daughter Michelle

by Marilyn McCullough --

As a parent who sent both my children to Trinity University, I can tell you that the first time you help your child – in my case, my daughter – search for colleges, you find yourself wondering if they will stay close to home, go across the country, or maybe go to the other side of the world.

Living in Arizona, we pretty much knew that unless you wanted a large school you had to go out of state. We took a map of the United States and I asked my daughter to cross off states where she didn't want to live. After about five minutes, there was an X through states with snowy weather and major natural disasters (Florida got an exemption because of family close by). As you can imagine that narrowed the school options quickly.

From my perspective, I found the process fun – looking through the mail, offering suggestions, and visiting schools. Most of all, I was excited my daughter wanted me hovering a bit.

Fast forward a few months and she ended up at Trinity University, which was such a great decision. It was tough not having her at home, but maintaining communication with your daughter while she's in college isn't as difficult as it was when I was in school back in the 70s *cringe!!* Rather quickly I became quite the savvy texter and Facetimer, and I made sure to visit Texas whenever possible. A non-stop flight was a huge plus for me as a parent. Knowing I could get to my daughter in just a few hours really calmed any remaining anxiety.

Trinity alumni Mark McCullough and Michelle Bartonico
The McCullough kids: Mark and Michelle Bartonico.
My son’s college decision was a piece of cake. He didn't apply anywhere else but Trinity. He wanted to be near his sister and they both were able to play on the Trinity golf team. While at Trinity, my son fell in love with teaching and ended up pursuing his master’s through Trinity’s Master of Arts in Teaching program. We were already huge fans of Trinity but after seeing the caliber of the graduate program, we were beyond grateful we found Trinity.

My advice? Regardless of whether your son or daughter attends college just down the street, across the country, or even halfway across the world, have no fear because you can always stay in touch. Let them stretch their legs if that's what fits them best. It may end up being a growing experience for you as well.

About Marilyn

Marilyn McCullough, an Arizona resident by way of New York, is a docent at Ft. Tuthill Military Museum and retired teacher. She sent two children to Trinity who played on the golf team.

Art professor Trish Simonite with art student

by Trish Simonite —

Since she was raised in San Antonio, I did not expect my daughter to choose Trinity University for her undergraduate studies. And because I am on the faculty, I thought she would choose to go far away. I was wrong – Trinity was her first choice. She was drawn to Trinity because of the great facilities, low student-to-faculty ratio, great education, the spacious dorms and the campus. The burgeoning diversity and international population also attracted her.

She did have some rules for my husband and me. We were not to visit her at the dorms. She wanted to be under the radar and did not want to be known as "Professor Simonite's daughter," a tall order with a surname like ours in this close community. It is impossible to slip between the cracks at Trinity. Faculty notice when students do not show up in our classes and we WILL contact them and follow up.

Students at Trinity University
Trinity University students assemble on the campus Esplanade.

It was interesting to witness new student orientation from a parent's perspective. I was impressed by how quickly students integrated into the Trinity community. By the end of the orientation period, students had made numerous friends. They were assigned student mentors and a faculty advisor helped select classes and navigate registration and college life.

My daughter was thrilled to be paired with a roommate from Ecuador. They remain close friends to this day. Francesca has visited Ecuador; her roommate’s parents have stayed with us, and we are planning a visit to Ecuador.

Being British and having heard stories about wild parties, I was rather horrified when my daughter wanted to join a sorority. I was happy to hear students can wait until their sophomore year to join one and that all sororities and fraternities raise money for good causes.

I believe my daughter’s education at Trinity among a motivated, intelligent, diverse, enterprising group of students and an excellent, caring faculty has had a tremendous influence on her. She became more adventurous, spending a junior semester abroad in India. She became more focused and goal oriented, staying for a fifth year to earn an M.AT., a master’s in teaching.

Her Trinity education has stood Francesca in good stead. When she moved to New York with no job, she roomed with Trinity friends. She applied for and obtained an internship at The New Museum and; found employment and supported herself through graduate school. She was recently awarded a teaching fellowship that is paying for her final year in grad school. She is currently completing an M.F.A. in photography at Brooklyn College in New York.

Trinity University professor Trish Simonite and daughter
Professor Trish Simonite, left, and her daughter, Francesca

About Trish
At Trinity, Trish Simonite is a professor of art and art history, specializing in photography. Her recent work is about the history of the landscape in places like England, Greece, and Spain.

Trinity University volleyball players

by Kay Hazelwood –

I am frequently asked by parents how their student-athlete will manage athletics and academics at Trinity University. I answer that question by drawing on my own daughters’ experiences and by visiting with my favorite alumni and assistant coaches. Here is a summary of their answers to some frequently asked questions.

Will my student-athlete be able to keep up with coursework during the athletic season? How did Trinity provide encouragement and coordination with faculty members?

Being a student-athlete at Trinity University is certainly a challenge. Trinity is a school with both top-notch academics and athletics so the key to being successful as a student-athlete is finding the right balance between academics, athletics, and social activities. If your student-athlete is committed to both studies and athletics, he or she will most likely need to make other sacrifices (i.e. less TV, fewer parties, etc.), but handling coursework is definitely manageable. Most student-athletes find that they make better grades during their season compared to other semesters because they are more focused overall.

Hazelwood volleyball family at Trinity University
The Hazelwood family includes mom, Kay, center, Trinity class of '82, with daughters who played volleyball at Trinity: Audrey '15, Maddie, '13, and Aly '09' and daughter Marion, a sophomore volleyball player at Oklahoma.
One student-athlete I spoke to admitted that playing two sports while double majoring in physics and engineering definitely taxed his time, but he agreed that all of his coaches and professors were accommodating of the demands of a student athlete. He never had any issue with missing practice for a class or lab. All of his professors were very encouraging in the pursuit of athletic excellence, and his physics professors actually got a big kick out of having a football player as a student. My football player’s experience is not unique; when interviewing an accounting major and track and field athlete he agreed that most Trinity professors (99 %) support student-athletes and are happy to work with them so they don't fall behind and can be successful. Rarely should your student-athlete encounter a situation where a test or assignment cannot be reasonably rescheduled. The key is communicating early and often with their professors about their game and travel schedules.

The coaches are also extremely dedicated to keeping up with all of their players' academic standing and grades to ensure that their players are not struggling, and if they are, to find ways to help. Many of the assistant coaches are Trinity alumni who certainly know how academically strenuous many professors and courses can be. The coaches do a great job of facilitating the upperclassmen as mentors for the underclassmen (academically and athletically), helping with scheduling classes and managing time/assignments. Upperclassmen are great role models, both on the court and in the classroom, setting the standard for academics as a priority at all times during season.

Will the travel to games be a distraction?

Travel can be a distraction because student-athletes are a close knit group and they want to enjoy the time away from campus exploring new places with this great group of friends. But, for many student- athletes travel forces them to study! My track star and accounting major found that traveling to games gave him extra time for studying (flights, bus rides, time in between games). At a recent track meet, for example, almost all of the athletes brought their study materials to review between events. Coaches also play a big role here, requiring study hours or down time while away. The coaches are not babysitters and they can't force athletes to study, but they do a good job of pushing them in the right direction to eventually establish those study skills as a natural part of the season.

Could the athletic season actually function as a time management tool?

Absolutely. Without a doubt, being a student-athlete puts stress on one's time. When in season, a significant part of an athlete’s time is spent around their sport (practice, games, travel, and conditioning). Because of this, they will quickly learn to prioritize their other activities and focus their energy on the most important tasks. My football player dealt with the added stress with determination and a sense of pride that comes with being a Trinity Tiger. He said that after six years in the real world he has yet to have a boss as demanding as his coach, but it sure was a lot of fun!

About Kay

Kay Hazelwood, chair of the Trinity Parent Leadership Council, sent three daughters to Trinity, and they all played volleyball. The only daughter who didn’t come to Trinity to play volleyball grew up coming to campus to see her older sisters play.
Paige and Marni Trinity University Parent Perspective

by Marni Jameson –

Let me introduce myself. I am That Mother.

Twice now, I have been that caricature of a parent sending her child off to college as if her child’s life depended on it. And, well, actually, not to be too overwrought, it does.

I have been that frazzled but determined, sentimental but stoic, clingy but progressive mother who badgered, questioned, steered, challenged, coddled, prodded, provoked, cajoled, broke down, cheered, edited, counseled, and generally, as my daughters put it, “got all up in their grill.”

I pretty much consider that my job description.

See, the act of sending a child off to college puts moms like me in a constant state of contradiction. In the space of five minutes, I would go from, “How could you leave me?” to “Aren’t you in college yet?”

The college experts say that is normal, but what is normal about having your kid up for sale, in a deal where you hope the right college buys so you can pay?

When my oldest daughter, Paige, who graduated from Trinity in 2015 with a B.S. in Biology and English, started her college search, we made lists -- make that spreadsheets -- of test dates, application deadlines, and color-coded-coast-to-coast college visits. We revised them weekly.

My daughter would make her college list, and I would cross off a few names. Her father and I would add a few names that she would cross off. And her college counselor would edit down the list and add a few more names. Often these were colleges we had never heard of.

Paige at Trinity U
One of those was Trinity University.

“Paige would be a great fit,” he told us, when we both said, “Trinity?”

“Smart kids, low faculty-to-student ratio, lots of opportunity for undergraduate research, strong in both arts and sciences, a substantial endowment, super alumni support, small but not too small, and in a great town.”

We weighed other factors like cost, weather, housing, distance, diversity, culture and above all, whether I thought the place would be any fun to visit. (Wait till you try the Mexican food.)

As we ruled out other contenders -- too impersonal, too intense, too social --Trinity kept hitting our sweet spot.

In the end, we had a choice of schools. The decision was easy. I still remember the moment on Christmas Eve when Paige received a red package from Trinity tied with a white ribbon that said, “Say Yes.”

I jumped up and down.

Magic Stones at Trinity University

Once Paige started her college education, she changed her career aspiration from veterinarian to playwright to Broadway singer to botanist. At Trinity she was able to discover, develop and explore all those interests, and grow as a scientist, a writer, a singer and, most important, as a young woman.

Today, Paige works full-time as a digital media editor at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, where she is also a graduate student pursuing a master’s in bioscience and health policy. Although confident with an undergraduate degree under her belt, she remains a tad anxious about what lies ahead. But I know that whatever that may be she is ready.

Still, I will continue to badger, challenge, cheer, counsel, and generally, “get up in her grill,” because I am That Mother. And I bet, you are, too.

About Marni

Marni Jameson is a nationally syndicated home and lifestyle columnist, author, speaker, and mother of two college-age children who is alive to tell about it. Her most recent book, “Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go” came out January 2016 from Sterling Publishing. She lives in Winter Park, Florida.