Entrepreneurs pay it forward.    

TAMUG impacts maritime industry through pay-it-forward entrepreneurs.

On the Gulf of Mexico coast near the Houston ship channel, the campus community of Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) has educated generations of students who now populate research laboratories and expeditions, marine and military vessels, boardrooms and classrooms of the world. What some may not know is when it comes to results, TAMUG educators get a helping hand from entrepreneurs who are “paying it forward” for the education they received at A&M.

 “With an excellent education, the Aggie Spirit of connection and the entrepreneurial zeal of former students, TAMUG’s has had a far-reaching impact on the maritime industry, which is vital to the world economy,” said Dr. Joan Mileski, TAMUG associate professor and interim department head for Maritime Administration and Logistics.

 Honoring a legacy

 Mileski, who educates leaders for the rapidly-growing maritime industry pointed to George P. Mitchell as “the person responsible for the activities of the TAMUG campus.”  

 “He is one of Texas A&M’s most revered former students and greatest entrepreneurs,” she said.

 Mitchell, is a distinguished Aggie and energy entrepreneur who transformed the energy industry in the 20th Century. Mitchell earned a petroleum engineering degree in 1940 from Texas A&M University and helped the university become a world leader. He donated 135 acres on Pelican Island to establish the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus.

Mitchell’s influence as an entrepreneur has benefitted programs, professors and students at A&M. Not only did Mitchell give property to TAMUG for its campus on Pelican Island, but he also endowed several chairs at the university including Dr. William Merrell, the George P. Mitchell '40 Chair in Marine Sciences; Dr. Bernd Wursig, the George P. Mitchell '40 Chair for Sustainable Fisheries and Dr. Samuel Brody, the George P. Mitchell '40 Chair for Sustainable Coasts.

Other Texas A&M former students are equally committed to their field of endeavor and to giving something back to Texas A&M.

Paying it forward

Among them, Todd Sullivan, a former student and engineering major, who graduated from the College Station campus, is president of Texas International Terminals. The company is a multi-modal transloading facility for deep draft vessel, unit train, manifest rail, barge and truck along the Galveston Ship Channel. As a full-service terminal operator, stevedore and material handler, the company links clients with the global marketplace within a single, centrally-located facility on the Gulf Coast.

Sullivan gives something back and pays something forward by hiring TAMUG graduates.

“Matt Haidinyak (’00) is our harbormaster and railway master,” Sullivan said. “Sarah Moss (’08) is our inventory management and contract administrator and Nick Durre (’11) is our marine operations coordinator.

“These former students are well prepared,” he said. “For them, it’s not just a job. After being immersed in the environment on Galveston campus, they are passionate, energetic and eager to work.”

Building character

 TAMUG has produced entrepreneurs such as Lamson V. Nguyen, a marine engineering major who graduated in 1993. Nguyen is owner of Lamson Construction, which focuses on commercial construction and land development on Pelican Island and Galveston.

 Nguyen commented on the relationships with professors and experiences on the Galveston campus.

“It was affordable, beneficial and convenient to attend school there,” Nguyen said. “It’s a good school. They gave me personal attention.

“I could walk up to a professor and have a one-on-one conversation, he said. “Professors knew me. They had patience to help me. They supported me as a person. There were small classrooms and a nice campus.”

Nguyen said that students at TAMUG were focused and mature because they “came here for a specific reason”.

But, he wanted to emphasize an important lesson he learned at TAMUG.

“One of the things I learned is there is that Aggies don’t cheat, lie or steal,” he said. “I’ve followed through with this. It’s about integrity.”