Jacob Galan kicks a soccer ball during a Trinity home game
Chasing His Goals
Cellular and molecular biology student-athlete earns prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship

Jacob Galan ’22 can be called many things, from the captain of Trinity’s men’s soccer team and an All-American on the pitch to teaching assistant and researcher in the lab. One name Galan hopes to soon be called is doctor. 

After winning an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship that only 126 student-athletes nationwide earn, Galan is one step closer to receiving that title. Galan will use the scholarship, which is worth $10,000, for medical school. 

“I was pretty surprised. To be recognized for something like that is an amazing thing,” Galan says. “I honestly felt more honored than anything to be able to receive that and represent Trinity and Trinity soccer, especially Coach McGinlay.”

Galan has known Paul McGinlay, head men’s soccer coach at Trinity, since elementary school. As a San Antonio native who attended Reagan High School, Galan participated in soccer camps led by McGinlay throughout his youth. 

“I know the 12-year-old Jacob, and I know the 22-year-old Jacob, so it's been an enjoyable decade getting to know him and his family,” McGinlay says. “Words fail me because he’s just phenomenal to be around every day. His sense of humor, his seriousness, his overall demeanor—players like him only come around once every couple of decades.”

Jacob Galan comes from a Tiger family through and through, and celebrated with his family after soccer games at Trinity.

Galan’s mom, Blanca Timoskevich ’92, and his older sister, Gaby Galan ’20, also went to Trinity, so the campus connections run deep. Going to school in San Antonio also meant Galan’s family could cheer him on from the same stands he remembers sitting in as a kid.

“I’m all about staying close to family and following tradition,” Galan says. “I always loved being able to see my family in the stands coming to the games. If I’m going to miss anything it’s going to be those home games under the lights when the stadium is packed.”

McGinlay nominated Galan, in his senior year, for the scholarship. Jacob Tingle, Ph.D., helped shepherd Galan through the process as Trinity’s NCAA faculty athletics representative. Galan wrote an essay on how he planned to use the scholarship money if he won, along with how what he learned as a student-athlete would help him in his stated endeavor of attending medical school.

Galan’s performance academically and athletically stood out enough to become one of 21 male student-athletes that play fall sports across the NCAA’s three divisions to win their coveted prize. 

“It speaks to what we promote as we’re recruiting students,” McGinlay says. “Everything is available to you. There’s resources, there’s support, there’s coaches, faculty, and administrators. It truly takes a village to get through all this and we have that village. We have all the necessary components within it to allow for this excellence, but the biggest participant in all of this is Jacob.”

The United Soccer Coaches named Jacob Galan an All-American during the 2021 season. Galan attended the award ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo courtesy of Paul McGinlay.

Galan’s excellence is felt equally and quickly by his professors, whether in-person or virtually.

“I joined Trinity last year in January, and the first class I taught was immunobiology, and Jacob was one of my students,” says biology professor Luis Giavedoni, Ph.D. “Everything was through Zoom, and we didn’t have any face-to-face contact, but I got a really good impression from Jacob just from his participation, his questions, and his understanding of the subject.”

Galan and Giavedoni immediately clicked through this class, and they conducted research together over the summer of 2021, which focused on finding a cure for AIDS. 

“He is always dedicated to being in the laboratory early in the morning and spending the time that needs to be spent. Those are characteristics of somebody who is focused on a particular goal,” Giavedoni says.

One of those goals was set in a middle school biology class, when Galan realized he wanted to follow in his father, John Galan’s, footsteps and become a physician. Galan found himself enamored with studying for a test on the cardiovascular system. He memorized everything he possibly could, even giving a full-page response on a bonus question to show just how much he knew as a young teenager.

“I still remember the conversation I had with my parents about it in the car,” Galan says. “I had a passion for that biology class, and it came very fast. I knew exactly then what I wanted to do.”

That love for biology never faded. Galan chose cellular and molecular biology as his major and started down the pre-medical advising program. Two months after he graduates from Trinity in May, Galan will begin his coursework at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston McGovern Medical School.

“He came into Trinity with medical school being his goal,” says Galan’s academic adviser and biology professor Jonathan King, Ph.D. “He’s always been very serious, and he’s always been very intentional.”

Jacob Galan chases down the ball at a Trinity home game during the Fall 2021 season. Photo courtesy of Avery Rosenblum, Trinity Department of Athletics

King knows a little something about not only the Galans but also about teaching exceptional student-athletes. King taught Jacob’s sister Gaby, who played soccer at Trinity and now attends medical school as well. He also taught Chelsea Cole ’19 and Lindsey Peng ’21, both women’s soccer players that won NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships of their own.

Perhaps King’s success with student-athletes comes from his ability to relate and combine all sides of what they do.

“Medicine is a team sport these days. There's all different players and partners that a physician will need to interact with, other physicians and other health professionals,” King says. “Jacob will be a great team player in medicine, and I think it’s pretty cool that I’ve gotten to interact with three people that have won this award.”

While some may believe that sports distract from school or vice versa, Galan’s professors have witnessed firsthand how he’s thrived at both.

“Whenever I have a student that tells me they play a sport, right away in my mind I'm like, ‘The sport is gonna give or STEM is going to give because it's too hard to be good at both,’” says chemistry professor Kristina Trevino, Ph.D. “To see Jacob succeed, and not only make it but kill it, says so much about him and us as a University that we're pulling in these fabulous kids that can do both.”

Galan never felt the need to choose between soccer and his studies, and he was supported in both by everyone he came in contact with during his time  at Trinity.

Jacob Galan stands with chemistry professor Kristina Trevino, Ph.D. after the 2019 Turkey Trot. Galan serves as Trevino's teaching assistant for Advanced Chemical Principles. Photos courtesy of Kristina Trevino

“The learning atmosphere at Trinity has been second to none,” Galan says. “My professors are always following me and keeping up with me, wanting the best for me. From my freshman year, I felt that this University was here and helped me as much as I am here for the University.”

Trevino, for whom Galan serves as a teaching assistant, was one of the first people he messaged as soon as he found out he had won the scholarship. Of course, Trevino was hardly surprised.

“I never doubted him. He is the full package,” Trevino says. “I'm so proud of him, and he's going to do more than amazing things in his life.”

Because of the impact COVID-19 had on sports, Galan had the opportunity to return to Trinity to play one more season in the fall of 2022. However, he is ready to keep following the passion he first discovered back in that middle school biology class.

“As much as soccer has been the world to me and my team has been the world to me, it’s been a passion and dream of mine to go to medical school,” Galan says. “It’s finally here, and I feel like I just need to take it.”

Brian Yancelson '22 helped tell Trinity's story as a public relations intern for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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