This story was originally published in September 2019.
The search wasn’t for learning subjects but to learn how to think critically. To live ethically. To find people who think differently from the way you think, talk with them to find out why, and enrich yourself in the process.
The destination wasn’t simply to pave a path leading to upcoming professional development but a source pouring an unshakable foundation to fortify for personal growth.
Roseann Rogers and her husband Aashish Shah M.D., J.D. were seeking the definitive college preparatory environment for their only son Nikhil that would challenge his already inquisitive mind, and in turn, connect with his body and soul. Surfacing on their collective radars well before the evaluation formally began was a recurring theme, whether through unsolicited channels, or a commissioner in Post Oak Little League, or a chance encounter in the valet line with a visitor at Texas Children’s Hospital.
St. Thomas High School? That’s where I went. And my best friends in life are the ones I made there as an Eagle.
“We heard from so many alumni and I can tell you for a fact that every adult male Nikhil knows who went to St. Thomas says that he still values those friendships,” Roseann says. “It’s the truth. No exaggeration.”
As Roseann and Aashish plotted for the next phase of Nikhil’s academic career from middle school, they embraced a holistic approach – each piece of the judgement building an integrated and comprehensive whole. His educational pathway included not only academic excellence and intellectual vitality but a secure character and thirst for extracurricular activities.
“I was open to a lot of different schools and I was a bit uncertain about public versus private for Nikhil,” Aashish says. “I kept an open mind while knowing that empirically he needed a group-based environment. From the onset, we knew St. Thomas had a reputation for building young men and that certainly was a priority for us.”
Nikhil shadowed Eagle Ambassadors during a predetermined academic day in December 2018 and was struck by “students and teachers engaging in open partnerships. I respected that. I had previous middle school experiences where all that mattered was making sure you showed up and turned work in on time.”
Roseann saw that as Nikhil continued assessing schools through campus tours, he would return home all the more convinced that St. Thomas “was the right fit and the only school for him. It was his first and last choice. He applied to one private school.”
The fact that his favorite Indian restaurant, Surya, is a half dozen blocks to the north of 4500 Memorial Drive didn’t hurt the St. Thomas cause.
Nikhil’s trusted instincts were immediately confirmed during his introduction to student life through Camp Aquinas at Camp Cho-Yeh 75 miles north of Houston outside of Livingston. The five-day immersion designed specifically for Eagle freshmen is rooted in the Basilian credo Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge with a healthy mix of academic elements and challenging team-building activities.
“When you start high school and don’t know anyone, that can be the worst feeling ever,” Nikhil says. “But with Camp Aquinas, the seniors and the freshmen mixed. There was genuine leadership. The upperclassmen talked about their hard times and that sometimes it was tough to let it go. And at St. Thomas, when you need someone to lean on, you have your brothers, that family. That’s the brotherhood – being a man who helps another through a hard time. Being an only child with distant relatives, the brotherhood meant something to me, support during what can be difficult times in high school.”
Aashish is the president and CEO of Provision CARES Cancer Centers after serving as the chief health care value officer at the University of Texas MD Anderson’s Proton Therapy Center. He shares his son’s confidence in the uncommon Eagle brotherhood and the cornerstone quality it provides for future success.
“It certainly influences being a responsible young man and citizen. And I look forward to Nikhil benefitting because every 14-year-old needs that element,” Aashish says. “Work ethic and accountability are derivatives of being a strong upstanding young man. That’s is the palpable mission that I see and hear and feel from St. Thomas.”
Roseann is the sales manager of the Houston division of Stewart Title. Her distinctive professional career includes extensive marketing and a popular media profile at KPRC 2 where Houstonians knew her as “The Buzz Lady.”
Her philanthropic efforts have impacted the Junior League of Houston, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the American Heart Association Guild, and the Houston Ballet Guild. She has chaired a host of fund-raising galas for the American Cancer Society, the AIDS Foundation Houston, the Children’s Museum of Houston, Catholic Charities, and the Heart Center at Texas Children’s Hospital.
With a military father, Roseann’s childhood was a series of uprootings and resettlings. From Kentucky to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Lawton, Oklahoma to the Hanau American High School in Germany 30 miles outside of Frankfurt. She takes particular solace in knowing Nikhil’s teenage self-discovery will be anchored through the consistency of the St. Thomas formation.
“Right now, there’s that unknown of where his strengths will take him,” Roseann says. “There are interests he will uncover as he matures because there are so many opportunities in front of him to find that passion, whatever it may be. I know this, in 14 years, being accepted into St. Thomas excited him more than anything else in his life.”
Within the exceptional depth of the St. Thomas experience, Nikhil may contribute to one or two activities or five or six clubs. The rich championship tradition of Eagle Baseball is an emphatic pull. Before completing his first day of classes his intrigue in sports medicine directed him to Eagle Athletic Training led by head trainer Chris Valdez in collaboration with the sports performance specialists at Memorial Hermann. In September, Nikhil and Aashish will join in the annual Eagle Eye Clay Shooting tournament at the Houston Gun Club.
Father, mother and son all believe a college preparatory environment should be dedicated to more than expanding intellectual horizons. Aashish, Roseann, and Nikhil each identified at the core of St. Thomas a Catholic community of inherently shared values, as well as common global viewpoints of life with a dedication to service. There’s a mutual ambition within the family that Nikhil will grow, contribute, and thrive during the upcoming four years, and St. Thomas, in turn, will be changed by him.
Before the current academic year, Aashish shared in a Parents Day gathering of about 30-40 Eagle families and admitted to the group that “for the most part, everyone harnesses the same hopes and fears. You often question the decision making of your 14-year-old son. And in sessions such as these, I’m convinced that this is one of those times I’m not questioning his decision at all. St. Thomas is absolutely the right place for him.”
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.