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Navy Veteran Discovers Life Direction, Shapes his Story with UST’s Help

On May 8 at UST Commencement, Navy veteran Jerrow Mathullah ’21 transitions from University of St. Thomas – Houston to University of Washington and a master’s program in school psychology. His goal — to be a school psychologist.

His ongoing 10-year path to realizing his dream has had some bumps, starting with dropping out of UT Austin due to his grades. His winding road took him from there to the Navy and eventually to UST where he would find the right academic environment.

Psychology Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Jo Meier-Marquis adds, “I think Jerrow’s journey reflects the opportunity for second chances and not giving up,” she said. “While his academic journey as a first-time freshman was rocky, he didn’t give up and eventually found his way. Jerrow has been at UST for a short amount of time but has made a big impact in the department and with his fellow students. He leaves UST to pursue his graduate studies at the University of Washington in Seattle this fall. His remarkable journey reminds all of us to never give up.”

Time at Sea Produced Thoughtful Reflection

In the Navy, he served aboard the USS Stethem in the Western Pacific. As his time in the service was drawing to a close, he pondered what he would pursue next. Going to college seemed to be the best option, however he had reason to be unsure.

“I figured I wasn’t cut out for school,” he said.

During his time at sea, he had opportunities to think about his academic disappointments. He learned that his past struggles were not due to a lack of ability, but rather a lack of direction and drive. Simply put, he lacked passion.

“I knew I had the work ethic, because the Navy demanded so much from me, and I was successful there,” Mathullah said. “What I needed to find was an area of study that excited me.”

Big Five Personality Test Gave Him Direction

A fellow sailor suggested that he take a personality exam.

Mathullah said, “The idea was that if I could learn a little more about myself, I could determine an area of study.”

The results were eye-opening and spot-on,

“The test pointed to a natural affinity I had for psychology, and I was drawn to how powerful psychological assessments can be in realizing human potential. That’s why I want to be a school psychologist.”

Wants to Guide Others to Excel Academically

“I know what it is like to struggle academically, but I also know what it is like to excel,” he said. “I want to provide students, particularly in high school and college, the kind of guidance that helped me.”

Faith Helped Him on His Journey

Mathullah’s faith is invaluable to him as well, and he thanks God for bringing him through this academic journey.

“I wouldn’t be here except for His grace, and it is largely due to that grace that I was accepted into many of the graduate schools to which I applied, including Columbia University,” he said. “It’s incredibly humbling how someone like me who was once on academic probation could get into an Ivy League school. I also could not have made it this far without God bringing certain individuals into my life, namely those I have met at St. Thomas.”

UST Helps Shape His Future

He extends gratitude for how welcoming the Registrar and the Veteran’s Affairs staff were during his transition back into civilian life.

“I had my doubts about whether I could truly succeed this time around, but their support helped change my mindset,” he said. “I am also indebted to the Psychology Department at UST for mentoring and encouraging me.

“As I look towards an exciting future, which I could not have envisioned those many years ago, I will always be thankful for the path and the people along the way who shaped my story,” Mathullah said.

UST Commencement

Founder of the global ministry Word on Fire Catholic Ministries and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Bishop Robert Barron, will present the keynote address at the 2021 University of St. Thomas Commencement at 11 a.m. on Sat., May 8, 2021 at the NRG Stadium, NRG Parkway, Houston, 77054.