Student Profile - Zachary Defrancis

Zachary Defrancis leaves a legacy of leadership

Zachary Defrancis“Graduating high school, I was a good student, and I had a lot of options,” said 21-year-old Zachary Defrancis, a Port Arthur native who is majoring in history at Lamar University with a teacher’s certification and minoring in political science. “I was offered scholarship money from multiple schools, but I chose Lamar because I knew that I could get everything I wanted right here.”

Since joining LU, the senior has held several leadership roles, been recognized as an accomplished scholar, become a world traveler, and discovered his passion for historical preservation.  He will graduate in May 2016.

Leaving high school, Defrancis promised himself he would still find a way to pursue his passion for tennis. Now, he is known across campus for his involvement and success with the LU Club Tennis Team.

“I attended a meeting about the tennis club one day and it didn’t seem to be doing much. A few friends and I decided to put some work into making it better, and within two years, we had made it to nationals,” Defrancis said.

The team has competed at nationals for the past two years. Defrancis has been president of the LU Club Tennis Team for two years and continues to share his time with other tennis clubs in the community.

Defrancis has packed many other accomplishments into his time at Lamar University, such as his induction into numerous honors societies, placement on Dean’s list twice and honor of the President’s list five times.

For his museum internship class during the summer of 2015, he interned at the McFaddin-Ward House, a Beaux-Arts Colonial style home that presents Beaumont’s historic past through its collections and special events. There, he was able to try his hand at everything: working with collections, curating exhibits, working in the archives, educating, and maintaining public relations. Defrancis says the experience gave him a better feel for what areas he’d like to pursue after graduation.

That same year, he won the Dr. Andrew J. and Betty H. Johnson Prize for a paper he researched and wrote on the historical 1850s Sabine Pass lighthouse. The article was published in “The Texas Gulf Historical and Biographical Record, ” a peer-reviewed journal.

Defrancis on tennis courtSince childhood, Defrancis had dreams of traveling, but never found the chance until a professor in his history class mentioned an upcoming Study Abroad trip. He seized the opportunity and traveled to Florence, Italy in the summer of 2014. He and other LU students stayed three weeks, attending courses and learning about the city, and his time abroad helped him develop his passion for historical preservation.

“It troubles me to see decay. There are a lot of important sites that need a lot of help. I think there should be adaptive reuse—taking an old building and turning it into a nice place to live,” said Defrancis.

The senior has a reputation among peers for being hard working and well rounded. He says that his natural curiosity and wide range of interests help him relate to others and bring him to new opportunities; his work ethic helps him see them through.

Defrancis has been an LU Ambassador since spring 2014, a member of the Honors Student Association and Newman Catholic Student Center and won the Tennis on Campus Leader of the Year for USTA Texas. He volunteers at the community garden, the food bank and the humane society and assists various 5k fun runs for charity.

Defrancis feels he faces the same challenges as any other college student: staying motivated and keeping up with all the responsibilities of college life. In his free time, he likes to relax and spend time with friends and family. He also loves movies and music and admits to binge-watching his favorite series, like Breaking Bad and How I met Your Mother, on Netflix.  

The senior, who has also worked in the Office of the President and the Provost and as a community leader for the university’s Texas Academy of Leadership in the Humanities (TALH) program, says he feels fortunate for the accessibility and networking possible at Lamar.

“Lamar University has helped me achieve my goals. It has given me an excellent support structure, from staff, to professors, to department chairs, to deans, to administration. Its almost hard to fail with all the support I have with the professors and other staff at Lamar,” he said.

Defrancis has received the Lamar University Mirabeau Finalist Scholarship, McMasters Honors Scholarship, Nelda C. And H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation Scholarship, Diocese of Beaumont Moore Scholarship, North Port Arthur Rotary Scholarship and Daughters of the Republic of Texas Scholarship.