09:01 AM

Alumnus who ‘never gave up’ is multi-media journalist

KBTX News Producer and Multi-media Journalist Johnathon Vermaelen '18Johnathon Vermaelen ’18 is one of the most remarkable alumni to emerge from the University of Saint Thomas-Houston. And he continues to impress. The bold young man who graduated magna cum laude with a double major in Criminology and Political Science in 2018 succeeds academically and professionally despite the challenges of being on the autism spectrum. His latest triumph is being a news producer and multimedia journalist at KBTX-TV in Bryan, Texas. 

Vermaelen’s Academic Achievements

After he graduated from UST, Vermaelen attended Purdue University-Global, where he earned a Master’s in Business Administration. From there, he followed his passion for the law and attained his Juris Master from Liberty University in 2022. Now, the native Houstonian from a large Catholic family that loved and believed in him believes he has found a career path that blends much of what he enjoys.

“I’ve always enjoyed watching the news, especially since I was a political science major,” Vermaelen said. “I’ve always found politics and law fascinating as they impact our daily lives.”

Journalists tell news stories, and storytelling is one of his serious leisure pursuits. Vermaelen is passionate about film and literature and writes fiction and non-fiction novels in his free time.

Defying the Naysayers

The resilient alumnus with two bachelor’s degrees, an MBA, and a law degree likes to point out he was told as a child that he would never get beyond the third grade.

He said, “I never gave up. Education is important for everything in life, whether that’s working at a job or having fun with friends. At UST, I learned how to use my knowledge not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of others as well.”

Pragmatic Studies Program at UST

Identifying a higher education opportunity, UST's Kolbe School of Innovation and Professional Studies introduced a landmark program called Applied Science in Pragmatic Studies for students with learning differences in 2021. The program uses Universal Design for learning, and students graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Pragmatic Studies Degree. Because of the program’s tremendous success, graduates are eligible for the even newer, trailblazing four-year degree program