Valero Energy Foundation Scholarship Recipient: Robert Apolinario

Valero Energy Foundation Scholarship Recipient: Robert Apolinario
December 03, 2012 | posted by The Institute

Robert Apolinario is the recipient of the 2012-13 Valero Energy Foundation Multidisciplinary Award for graduate students at UTSA. The scholarship is given to recipients who show a commitment toward pursuing an energy-related career and have demonstrated academic excellence.

Who: Robert M. Apolinario
Master of Public Administration (MPA), Minor: Nonprofit Management
College of Public Policy

Hometown: Elizabeth, NJ

I was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and later raised in Orlando, Florida by my mother Lucia Apolinario. My mother immigrated to the United States from Portugal when she was very young. As a single mother with no high school education I am baffled by how she was able to raise three children on a maids salary. She sometimes mentions that she wishes she could have provided more for my siblings and me. However, based on my definition of the “American Dream” my quality of life is much better than what she had growing up and I have had many more opportunities than she has had. Thus, as far as I am concerned she did her job as a mother well. Now it is my job to ensure my son has a chance at a better life and more opportunities than I have had.

I have a personal interest in African American studies and social behavior and definitely enjoy reading books on the subject. Another activity that I’m not very open about is that I am, secretly, a hardcore gamer.

Why did you choose UTSA?
My last military tour was working as a military police dog handler instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. After four years of living in San Antonio I had heard so much about UTSA and how good of a school it was there seemed like no other option but to enroll at UTSA. 

What are you studying at UTSA and Why?
I did my Undergraduate work in Political Science and now I am currently working on my Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in non-profit management.  As far back as I can remember I have always had a passion for public service. Growing up all I ever wanted to be was a police officer, a firefighter, or a soldier. I soon realized that joining the military would allow me the opportunity to serve the public by serving my country as a police officer in the Marine Corps.  Once my enlistment in the military was over I felt that going to school for political science would afford me the opportunity to continue my passion for public service.  Perusing a Master’s in Public Administration seemed like the next logical step.

What inspires you to pursue this degree?
As a political science major I am very opinionated and have strong feeling about many social issues. My hopes for pursuing a degree in political science and public administration is that someday I would be in the position to bring about change. 

How long have you worked with the Institute?
I’ve been working with the Institute since May 2012. It has been an educational and growing experience.

What do you do at the Institute?
As graduate researcher I assisted faculty and other researchers in the analysis of energy policy. I am responsible for constructing and administering surveys, analyzing and documenting results, preparing reports, and aiding in energy policy research. An example of my contributions work can be seen in “Driving the Future: An Adoption Model for Electric Vehicles in San Antonio”(August 2012), a report commissioned by CPS Energy in partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio. I was also responsible for writing and preparing a research protocol plan involving the use of human subjects for submission to UTSAs Institutional Review Board.

What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?
As a military veteran I have exhausted my G.I. Bill/educational benefits during my undergraduate and graduate studies. The Valero Scholarship will contribute to my successful completion of the MPA program and provide support for my family. However, I am still trying to wrap my head around what receiving the generous scholarship means in the long run and why me. To be honest I do not think I would be doing anything different if I were working somewhere else. However, I will say that I am truly passionate about the institute’s mission to “…transform the energy future of San Antonio, Texas and the nation” (Institute website). I feel the work we do is in the service of the public and for the benefit of all.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
Since working for the institute I have really developed an interest in energy efficiency and conservation. I hope to be able to secure a position in the public sector that would allow me to contribute to our nation’s energy security.

Is there anyone whom you would like to thank, that has helped you pursue your degree?
I am of the belief that no one with any measure of success was able to get there without help from someone.  I certainly owe a sincere thank you to my Fiancé Kristina for her support and encouragement. On most days because of work, school, and studying I am out of the house from 9am to 9pm. On top of her own job, caring for our son, and other commitments, she goes out of her way to make sure I have all the time I need to be successful at school and work. Thank you for your sacrifices. I’d like to thank Royal my son for making me laugh at the end of a long day.  

Most recently, I would like to thank the institute’s Deputy Director Dr. Gomez for bringing me on board and giving me the opportunity to be part of something huge – changing the way we as a society think about energy. His guidance and leadership has been invaluable in my development as a researcher, a student, and a father. During my eight years of service in the Marine Corps I was exposed to many leaders, Dr. Juan Gomez is one of the finest I’ve ever had the opportunity to serve under (The list continues to grow).

I would also like to thank the institute’s Director Dr. Les Shephard for keeping his door open and making himself visible and accessible to everyone at the institute. As well as selecting me to be the recipient of the generous Valero Scholarship award. I want to give a big thanks to the institute’s staff for their support and making any issue I may have had their priority. To everyone else at the institute, thank you for making yourselves available and making me feel welcome. 

Any other comments you would like to share?
Educate yourself and others on energy efficiency and conservation. Work to change the way you think about energy and how you use it. Public policy, money, or technology will do little mitigate the environmental effects of our energy consumption unless we change our behavior.