Marine veteran Thomas Avalos settles with Astros

Marine veteran Thomas Avalos settles with Astros

HOUSTON – Despite having a supportive family and a steady job as a roofer, Thomas Avalos struggled to find his purpose after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2017. I did. Like many veterans, he struggled to adjust to civilian life.

Avalos fell into a deep depression. Thoughts of suicide crossed his mind. Even after being admitted to one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, he could not get rid of the emptiness he felt in his heart.

“For about five years after graduating from college until two years ago, I lacked confidence in myself,” says the Rice University graduate. “For a long time, I was a roofer and thought that was the rest of my life.

“Going from flying in the Marines to being on the roof as a civilian, I felt like there was a big void inside me. That led to depression, and I also had issues with suicide.”

Astros ticket agent

Avalos is now in a much better position as the Houston Astros’ ticket manager. But adjusting to civilian life after he served 10 years in the Marine Corps was a difficult journey for Thomas Avalos. The former in-flight engineer spent 10 years inspecting military aircraft, resulting in 500 flight hours successfully completed.

Working with him was a rewarding experience. Avalos needed to be precise in his analysis, as mistakes could lead to accidents. Although his life after leaving the Marines was difficult, he was excited to begin civilian life.

When I transitioned from aircraft analysis to roof inspection for a Houston roofing company, a new world awaited me. For the former sergeant, it was a great job to support his family.

Thomas Avalos
Thomas Avalos served in the Marine Corps for 10 years.

Eager to change the trajectory of his destiny, he enrolled at a local junior college in Tomball, Texas, just outside Houston. After managing a full-time job for two years and attending night school at Lone Star College, Avalos earned an Associate of Arts degree.

Thomas Avalos receives the call of a lifetime from Rice University

With a mission to further her education, Avalos applied to Texas A&M University, the University of Texas, and Rice University. His dream school was Rice University, but he knew that getting into the top academic school in the Southwest would not be easy. He took the safe route and started picking classes at Texas A&M.

By the morning of my last day at Rice University, I had not heard back from them. Avalos came home from his work and was hot and tired, so he took a nap. When he woke up and checked his email, he received the news of a lifetime. Avalos received an acceptance email from Rice.

It was a magical moment for Avalos, who was eager for a new challenge. The military took a physical toll on Avalos, but the school took a psychological toll.

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One night, Avalos was studying late and was having trouble understanding geometry. After panicking over his problem, he cried quietly at his desk so as not to wake his wife and children, who were sleeping in another room.

Thomas Avalos was filled with self-doubt and was imagining his life falling apart when his wife, Christine, and their children entered the room. With his family surrounding him, Avalos knew his efforts were greater than himself.

important rice mentor

“She came in and said, ‘What’s going on?'” an emotional Avalos said. “I’m like, ‘This sucks, I can’t do this.’ She was sitting there, and my kids came over and said, ‘Dad, why is she crying?’

“In that moment, I wanted them to see what it takes. It’s going to be hard, but no matter how you feel, you have to keep going. Just keep driving and you’ll get there.” Determination will get you where you want to go.”

The father of three was 31 years old and sat in the same class as the teenagers who are usually at the top of their respective high school classes. Rice Professor Tom Stallings became interested in Avalos’ journey.

Stallings learned of Avalos and his aspirations for a career in sports after reading an article published in Rice University’s student newspaper, The Thresher. The title of the work is “Veteran Owl: Two students talk about undergraduate life after the military.

“As I was reading through it, I found him saying, ‘Yes, I’m interested in studying sports management,'” Stallings says. “I’m like, ‘Oh, who is this kid?'” I went to see if he was in the system and texted him to talk right away.

“And 10 minutes later I got a call from him. He was unlike any student we’ve ever had.”

childhood memories

Mr. Stalling connected Avalos with people who might be able to help with employment. He was building relationships with executives in the sports industry while working toward a degree in sports management. The 2023 Rice University graduate currently serves as an account executive for the Houston Astros. He works in ticket sales and is a ticket experience ambassador.

Avalos still has vivid memories of Barry Bonds hitting home runs for the Giants and the impact sports had on his childhood. Reminiscences of this event inspired him to pursue a career in the sports field. Avalos filled his void by giving his family moments to cherish forever.

Thomas Avalos
Astros ticket account manager Thomas Avalos poses with his wife and three children. Photo courtesy of the Avalos family.

“As I got older, I started to think of sports as an industry that I could work in,” Avalos said. “I thought about the memories of my youth and why they stuck with me so much. Now I’m giving that opportunity to the people whose tickets I manage.

“I was just on the field with a guy named Jamie Kilpatrick. He was with his son Benjamin. They’ll never forget this. This is the first time they’ve ever been on the field. It was my first time.”

Thanks to Rice University, The former Marine Corps sergeant is now living his dream with the Astros.

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