12:22 PM

Biology junior takes action: Forms Celt Pals to solve tutoring need at Texas Children’s Hospital

UST Biology student Anthony ShanarUniversity of St. Thomas-Houston biology student Anthony Shanar is exhilarated by his volunteer work as a tutor for Texas Children’s Hospital patients and making a difference there with an initiative called Celt Pals. Since February of 2023, the community-minded young man from Southwest Houston has been donating his time and tutoring talents weekly at the hospital.

“Tutoring at Texas Children's Hospital is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “In every room, I encounter a new face, health situation, family dynamic, education level, and social skill level, which makes every day both challenging and exhilarating.”

The UST Way: See a Need and Take Action

Perceiving how beneficial tutoring was for the patients, Shanar identified a need for more volunteer tutors. Then, he acted on that need. Shanar pitched his idea to recruit UST students, and the hospital was excited to support his plan.

Shanar made recruiting look easy when he put the opportunity out through UST’s TriBeta Biological Honor Society where he serves as treasurer. St. Thomas students were eager to make a tangible difference in the lives of children and responded enthusiastically. Of the 100 students who attended his information session last September, 60 officially applied to volunteer. By December, TCH Volunteer Services had onboarded the first 26 members of Shanar’s Celt Pals group.

“We have the first 26 coming in for their weekly shifts, and there are at least four of us there every weekday,” Shanar confirmed.

Adding Innovation to the Program

“Celt Pals has innovated new avenues of patient support by expanding tutoring to other areas of the hospital,” Shanar explained. “For instance, the entry area often has children waiting on appointments or working on homework, so Celt Pals puts floating tutors there to help with homework or provide companionship. We serve similarly in the outpatient chemotherapy and dialysis clinics, where treatments can take time and many children will tackle their homework there.”

Shanar and Celt Pals Are Recognized in Hospital Newsletter

Their impactful work did not go unnoticed. An excerpt from a recent Texas Children’s newsletter spotlighting Anthony Shanar for his phenomenal group of Celt Pals volunteers reads, “Celt Pals visit inpatients and help them with their schoolwork. These volunteers dedicate their time to ensure that patients do not fall behind on their studies while in the hospital, and we cannot thank them enough. We would like to recognize Anthony for taking action and seeing the need for more tutoring volunteers.”

Servant Leader Reflects on his Growth at UST

Reflecting on the growth the young man from Southwest Houston has experienced during his time at UST, Shanar credited the Biology faculty for encouraging students to “try new things and attack obstacles with curiosity and passion.”

“The holistic education has matured my mind and given me tools to have deeper conversations than I ever have. The critical thinking skills I’ve gained from the problem-solving-based STEM courses have turned me into an analyzer and solution-developer.”

After UST, Shanar hopes to attend medical school and become an orthopedic surgeon specializing in pediatrics.

“I want to see kids back on the playground where they belong.”

Shanar and the rest of the Celt Pals are more than tutors. They are making a difference in the lives of young patients and embodying the UST values of goodness and community.