Military service and philanthropy are family values for Maria C. Pappas and Christopher J. Pappas. Former Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ernesto Treviño, a student with Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston, recently benefited on both counts.
Treviño, a second-semester student in Cizik School of Nursing’s accelerated Pacesetter Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), is the first recipient of the Maria C. and Christopher J. Pappas VBSN Scholarship.
Maria Pappas’ father, former Brig. Gen. Mike P. Cokinos, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was decorated after the Battle of the Bulge in Western Europe. He then remained in the Army Reserves until the 1980s, advancing to the rank of one-star general. Pappas and her six siblings grew up in Beaumont, often attending Memorial Day commemorations and other military events.
“I think our whole family has a little compassion for the military,” she said.
Maria and Chris Pappas recently met for dinner and shared stories about military service with Treviño and Kevin J. Foyle, senior vice president of development and public affairs at UTHealth Houston.
Treviño first considered a career in law enforcement and received an associate degree in criminal justice. He later took a police recruiter’s advice to get some military experience and joined the Navy, where he ultimately became a hospital corpsman.
“That was my first hands-on experience with health care,” Treviño said. “I enjoyed it so much that it became my passion.”
Treviño was stationed in Great Lakes, Illinois; Beaufort, South Carolina; Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina; and Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. He served deployments in Afghanistan and Japan. After discharge from the Navy, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health from The University of Texas at Austin before enrolling at the school of nursing.
Since he had already earned one bachelor’s degree, Treviño’s veterans’ educational benefits will run out before he finishes his BSN, and he is grateful for the support from the Pappas family.
“The scholarship allows me to focus on my studies full time,” he said. “I no longer have to work full-time, so I can reallocate that time to studying and getting involved at the school. I want to be a tutor next semester, and I’m also working on my Spanish.”
Treviño is applying for a professional student nurse position at a local hospital and enjoying the variety of instruction and experiences provided in the BSN program. He spends time volunteering with Wounded Warrior Project® and visiting with older people at the Veterans Administration.
Maria and Chris Pappas was glad to get to know Treviño and said their family’s intent for the scholarship is to help those who have served our country successfully transition into meaningful civilian work, succeed in their jobs, and fulfill their dreams.
The Pappas family has an endowed Maria C. and Christopher J. Pappas Family Distinguished Chair in Nursing, and have helped many nursing students and faculty members over the years. Pappas serves as an active member of the UTHealth Houston Development Board and is a former chair of the PARTNERS organization at the school.
Media Inquiries: 713-500-3030