Veteran overcomes personal challenges to graduate, credits supportive profs
Trinity Danielson had just transferred to University of Houston-Clear Lake to complete his bachelor's degree and had registered for a heavy load of coursework when his wife had their second child. Within a week, his son was critically ill and had to be hospitalized. Danielson said he reached out to his professors for support.
Danielson, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, finished his associate's degree at San Jacinto College and began an 18-credit-hour course load toward his Bachelor of Arts in Biological Science with Life Sciences 7-12 Certification. "I was using the GI Bill to pay for college and had been taking just the minimum hours of college classes, and I was using the housing stipend to pay bills," he said. "I realized I wasn't going to get my degree unless I loaded up on classes, so I was doing that when the baby was born."
He said when his son was a week old, he suddenly stopped breathing. "We were rushing to the hospital and he went lifeless in the car," he said. "We stopped and I gave him CPR in the grass by the side of the road while my wife called 911."
Thankfully, the baby survived after a surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. "I talked to my professors and I did my homework at the hospital," he said. "(Assistant Professor of Chemistry) Anton Dubrovskiy was amazing. He allowed me so much flexibility and helped me be successful in his class. The other professors I had were also great at helping me be successful, especially under the circumstances."
Danielson had three chemistry classes with Dubrovskiy. "They were very hard, but I made it," he said. "I was juggling homework, the hospital, my wife and my 10-year-old child. The baby is fine now, but it was a traumatic ordeal. All my professors were very supportive of me in that situation, but Dr. Dubrovskiy was the most significant."
Currently in the final weeks of his teaching internship at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe Independent School District, Danielson said he has already been hired as a full-time biology teacher for the spring 2021 semester. "I decided to become a teacher because I liked science and I had taught search and rescue trainings in the Coast Guard," he said. "I am definitely not yet done with school. I am planning to get my master's degree and I'm considering school administration or teaching in college."
"There are a lot of people who are having hard life circumstances right now," he continued. "I would say, just take it a day at a time and stay prepared. I didn't have the option of dropping out because of the GI Bill's time limits. I considered cutting back classes, but then I wouldn't have graduated on time."
Danielson will complete his bachelor's degree within two years, calling himself "very fortunate and blessed."
Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, and find out more about UHCL's College of Education online.