The May Alumni Connection
Stephen Ganske, Class of 2000, has accomplished things in his career that very few have, and he credits his Vanguard education for giving him not only the foundation of his education but also the tenacity to take on academic challenges that might seem insurmountable to others.
Stephen is one of only seven attorneys in the State of Texas to hold certifications in both farm and ranch real estate law, and oil, gas, and mineral law. State board certification as a specialist is very difficult to achieve. Of the more than 100,000 people licensed to practice law in the state, only 7,450 have earned the right to be publically recognized as board certified specialists in one of 22 select areas of the law.
“To become board certified, an attorney must devote a large percentage of their practice to their chosen specialty area, must undergo many hours of continuing education in their specialty area (over and above the minimum requirements), must undergo peer review by other licensed attorney, and must pass a six-hour exam written by some of the state’s most experienced attorneys,” Stephen said. “It is the most difficult exam I have ever taken.”
Stephen earned his board certification in oil, gas and mineral law in 2015, and farm and ranch real estate law in 2016.
“This is significant because as we see more drilling over the substantial oil and gas deposits we have in Texas, we have seen a significant increase in the value of the land over these deposits,” he said. “More often than not, that’s farm or ranch land. It’s important that attorneys handling these types of transactions have as much expertise and knowledge as possible.”
The determination to become such an expert was instilled in him by many Vanguard teachers, Stephen said. That determination carried him through four years at Baylor, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and later through St. Mary’s, where he graduated with a J.D.
“What I remember best about Vanguard is that I had teachers who cared enough to show the areas in which I was going to excel,” he said. “Dr. Johnson taught me speaking skills which I have never forgotten and use every day,” he said. “Mrs. Davis taught me to expect more of myself. Mrs. Richie taught me the study skills to get through law school. Mrs. Johns taught me the analytical skills which have made the basis of my entire career.”
In addition to his academic struggles and successes, Stephen also has fond memories of class trips, from journalism trips to Europe in 1998 and New York City in 1999 to the 7th and 8th-grade class trips led by Mrs. Flowers.
“The fact that I remember those names and contributions of faculty members 17 years after graduation speaks to the impact that every teacher can have on a student,” he said.
Stephen’s two siblings also found success after Vanguard.
Rodney Ganske, class of 1996, attended Rice University, earning a degree in economics and political science, and went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 2003. He is currently a partner at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia.
Amanda Ganske, class of 2004, went on to the University of Pennsylvania, earning a B.A. in English literature and language and a B.S. in business and commerce. She earned her M.B.A. in Marketing and Econometrics in 2014 from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
“The best aspect of a Vanguard education is the ‘college preparatory’ aspect,” Stephen said. “The rigor, responsibility, and respect that Vanguard stressed every day shortened the adjustment to ‘grown-up life’ once I reached college. I’m thankful.”