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Texas A&M-Galveston Together: Brianne '21 & Marcus Wharton ‘21    

May 12, 2021

Father and daughter duo Marcus '21 and Brianne Wharton '21 will both graduate in May 2021 with bachelor's degrees in Oceans & One Health from Texas A&M University at Galveston.
Father and daughter duo Marcus '21 and Brianne Wharton '21 will both graduate in May 2021 with bachelor's degrees in Oceans & One Health from Texas A&M University at Galveston.

By Andréa Bolt, Communications Specialist, Division of Marketing & Communications

It’s one thing for a parent to visit their student at college or take an interest in their classes, but it’s something else entirely to have them as a classmate.
For Marcus Wharton ‘21 and Brianne Wharton ‘21, father and daughter Aggies by the Sea, not only has it been “actually fun” to be classmates, it’s been exceedingly helpful.
Marcus was the first to discover the Texas A&M University at Galveston campus.
Returning to the business degree he’d been working for a while, Marcus started taking online classes at West Texas A&M University. But it was the biology course that captured his interest, reminding him of the love he’d always harbored for science. 
When so Marcus and his wife took Brianne to the Galveston Campus for a prospective visit, it was he who felt hooked.
“You know, I had seen it in the 90s and it just felt small and a bit rough,” Marcus remembers. “What a night-and-day difference almost 20 years made. We walked out of the Ocean & Coastal Sciences Building (OCSB) and I told my wife, ‘I don’t want a business degree. I want to study the ocean! This is where I belong.’”
Brianne, who intended to study veterinary science, was sold. And so was Marcus.
“I had actually always wanted to be a marine biologist, but life had just kind of happened. I really thought this was the time to just do it,” he said.
In 2017, he made the switch from business to biology and at 40 years old became the newest member of the Aggie by the Sea family. Brianne joined him a year later after graduating from Friendswood High School.
Both Whartons majored in the Department of Foundational Sciences’ Oceans & One Health program, but in very different ways. The flexible program was created to appeal to such a wide range of science-based interests and to guide students into the medical, dental or veterinary fields, while also providing an interdisciplinary program and even the ability to choose two minors should students wish.
Teamwork Works
The pair had multiple classes together, including coastal development and human health, biological chemistry, and environmental chemistry. Having a nearby study buddy was seriously helpful, says Marcus.
“It was easier for me to get a hold of my daughter rather than just another classmate if I had questions,” Marcus says with a laugh.
Marcus Wharton '21
Marcus Wharton '21 decided to swap business school for biology and will pursue a Ph. D. program on the Galveston Campus in the fall. 

For Brianne, the most helpful aspect was not taking the same class simultaneously but at different times.
“It helped both of us when we could kind of prepare each other for a class, say if he was currently taking one I already had, and vice versa. Say, for organic chemistry or physics. That was good for us both,” she says.
The ways in which they were able to support each other seemed to pay off. And then some.
The Next Wave
In April, Brianne was recognized as a 2021 winner of the Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior Award. The prestigious honor rewards the top junior in each of the academic colleges at Texas A&M based on scholastic achievement.
Brianne Wharton '21
Graduating in only three years, Brianne Wharton '21 has proved her academic excellence by also winning the 2021 Gathright Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Junior Award.

Finishing her undergraduate degree in three years, 20-year-old Brianne has chosen to further her pre-health education. She will attend the MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School in fall to study biomedical science.
“That’s what’s great about this program, it's so broad and applies to so many fields,” Brianne admits. “Even though what we want to do is so different, this worked for us both.”
It worked so well, seemingly, that Marcus can’t get enough. He has elected to partner with Department of Marine and Coastal Environmental Science Associate Professor Dr. Karl Kaiser on a Ph. D. in chemical oceanography this fall, focusing on microplastics and their effects on marine environments.
Kaiser says Marcus is one of the “most motivated undergraduate students” he has come across on the Galveston Campus.
“Marcus has great enthusiasm for research and a refreshing can-do attitude that has allowed him to master complex analytical methods and helped him undertake his thesis work. He really is an ideal student who has great potential and I look forward to his research accomplishments as a graduate student,” stated Kaiser.
Having felt initially keenly aware of being a non-traditional Aggie by the Sea in a sea of young students, Marcus is proud to commit to finishing his doctoral degree “regardless of age.”
He really has just one complaint.
“The alphabet, you know? I’m an ‘M’ and she’s a ‘B,’ so I’ll be walking fifteen steps behind her,” he said, joking about Saturday’s graduation ceremony.
Brianne rolls her eyes.
“I think it’s pretty cool (that we’ll be graduating) together,” she replies.
“Not many people can say something like that. It is cool. It’s very cool,” Marcus says with a smile.


Media contact:
Andréa Bolt
Communications Specialist

Texas A&M University at Galveston is the marine and maritime branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in science, business, engineering, liberal arts and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M's rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.

Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of six state maritime academies and the only one in the southern United States, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world.

Texas A&M-Galveston is located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where it is surrounded by industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.