Krystina and Zachary Butler (Alumni)

By University Communications

Monday, 12 17 2018

Chasing a dream to pursue higher education takes diligence, perseverance and a stroke of audaciousness to complete the journey. For Zachary and his wife, Krystina, they chose to jump into the voyage together.   

Zachary Butler, a native of South Carolina, said he was kicked out of high school at the age of 16. College never seemed like an option, so after completing his General Education Development (GED) test at 17, Zachary joined the U.S. Army.

Krystina Butler, from San Antonio, pursued college straight out of high school. She attended San Antonio College (SAC) from 2003 to 2007 and met her future husband, Zachary, through a friend.

Zachary and Krystina married in 2007, living together in San Antonio until Zachary received orders to return to Kansas. The couple moved to Kansas and remained there until 2009, when he acquired his full discharge and moved back to San Antonio.

Zachary, now a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he felt he had two options — either attend school or join the workforce. He spent some time going from job to job, but he did not find anything that was truly meaningful to him so he decided to try college. Zachary enrolled at SAC in the spring of 2014.

With encouragement from her husband, Krystina realized she was ready to finish what she had started many years ago and decided to re-enroll at SAC in the fall of 2014. This marked the beginning of their educational journey together.

Math was a big hurdle to overcome for Krystina, she explained, but with support from Zachary, she was able to pass her math class alongside her husband. While at SAC, Krystina was introduced to Texas A&M University-San Antonio (A&M-SA) through a student organization where Zachary tagged along with Krystina and the group on a university tour. Both Krystina and Zachary said they were smitten with the intimate atmosphere and the one-on-one approach students are afforded with professors.

After earning her associate’s degree in teaching, Krystina transferred to A&M-SA, starting classes in Fall 2016. Zachary followed suit, completing his associate’s degree in exercise science and transferring to A&M-SA in Spring 2017. It was Zachary’s preference to follow Krystina to the fledgling four-year university located on San Antonio’s South Side.

Simultaneously attaining their baccalaureate credentials in time for the Fall 2018 Commencement ceremony was the icing on the cake. Zachary earned a bachelor’s degree in community health, while Krystina had earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with dual certification in generalists (early childhood through 6th-grade) and special education (early childhood through 12th-grade).   

This higher education journey is something the Butlers can share forever — from having degrees hanging on the wall beside each other and having classes together — they see the overall experience as motivating and accomplishing.

For Krystina, higher education degree attainment was a 15-year journey, and for Zachary, it was five years. But, both Zachary and Krystina say their respective struggles were worth it. The Butlers are just part of the many stories unfolding at the university where Jaguars do not quit on their dreams.