Give What You Get

Give What You Get

By Christina Rodriguez

James Cearley Gives Back to Program that Gave Him a Lifetime of Success

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  These words could not be truer for University of Texas at El Paso alumnus James Cearley, who showed his appreciation for his alma mater in a big and benevolent way.

Cearley is one of three children born to a young military family and one of three first-generation UTEP graduates. His parents instilled in their children the notion of thinking big and developing options for their futures, including pursuing college degrees. 

Shortly after receiving his geology degree at UTEP in 1978, Cearley began a 35-year career with the Chevron Corp. He held numerous technical and managerial positions, and ended his career as the General Manager of Deepwater GOM Exploration in Houston. He and his team of scientists and engineers made significant contributions to deep-water oil discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico. 

“I can honestly say that I genuinely loved my job at Chevron,” Cearley said. “It never felt like going to work; I looked forward to coming in every morning and did not want to leave at night. I was doing exactly what I loved.”

After retirement in 2013, Cearley became a member of the UTEP College of Science Advisory Board.  Through this involvement, he established the base funding for the Field Geology Experience Fund endowment. The program provides funding for students to purchase field equipment (including tablets and geological software) and offset student lab fees and field trip expenses. The endowment enables students to participate at conventions and other research-related events. 

“This fund is important to me personally because I want to ensure that future geology students are able to experience the same rich geologic field environment as I did,” Cearley said.

In addition to his generous gift to the University, he has also inspired fellow alumni to be a part of this rewarding endeavor. Cearley has pledged to match all contributions up to $50,000 until the end of 2016. 

“As an individual who came from fairly modest means, I feel very fortunate to be in the position to give back to UTEP and influence others to support this institution,” Cearley said. “Ready access to an affordable local university was paramount in providing me with an avenue to professional, high-paying job opportunities.”