When Corpus Christi residents tune in to the weekend news on KIII, the city’s local ABC affiliate, they often see UIW alumni Ryan Shoptaugh on their screens. Ryan, a 2017 graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word’s meteorology program, is the channel’s weekend meteorologist. As the son of a retired Air Force serviceman who worked on base in the city’s Northwest side, Ryan attended three different high schools in four years – Warren, Stevens and Brennan. But when the San Antonio native graduated from high school as a Brennan Bear, there was just one university Ryan wanted to attend – UIW.
Ryan had several reasons for choosing UIW. At the top of the list was the University’s Meteorology program, which is “designed for students who wish to receive a comprehensive education for the purpose of research into the dynamics of the Earth’s atmosphere, weather analysis, and weather forecasting.” The opportunity to study his desired field at a local University close to home encouraged him to apply.
“I had friends attending UIW as well,” said Ryan when asked about why he chose to study at UIW. “Ultimately, it seemed like the best and most affordable option.”
While the idea of holding onto the familiarity of family and close friends from high school as he ventured into college was appealing to Ryan, he found a new support system at UIW as well. Two professors in particular stand out to Ryan when you ask him who made the greatest impact on him at UIW – Dr. Gerald Mulvey, meteorology department chair, and Timothy Springer, lecturer.
“Both Dr. Mulvey and Mr. Springer shaped me into the man I am today,” Ryan said. “Dr. Mulvey pushes you in his own way. I learned so much from him in Climatology and Meteorological Instrumentation. Not only that, but Dr. Mulvey would critique me in front of the green screen every week helping me to get better.”
“Mr. Springer really connected with me,” he continued. “The way he can talk about atmospheric dynamics, mathematical equations and forecasting was effortless. I would spend hours with him asking questions and talking with him about his life and mine. I consider him not just a teacher, but a friend.”
Ryan enjoyed most classes, but his favorite was Synoptic Meteorology, an introductory course to the atmospheric structure, elementary thermodynamics, synoptic meteorology, and the use of computers in meteorology. The course includes theory and practice of weather analysis and forecasting, surface and upper air analysis, fronts and wave cyclones, satellite meteorology, radar meteorology, severe weather and more. To Ryan, having Mr. Springer at the front of the lecture hall for this course made the subject matter that much more exciting. Like Ryan’s father, Springer is retired Air Force. His background inspired him to introduce topics like Aviation Meteorology during class, something Ryan found fascinating.
The relationships created at UIW as well as the academic coursework and real world preparation helped guide Ryan to a career that was right for him. He says he has found purpose and fulfillment in a job that allows him to be himself and improve every day.
“The beauty of this job is that you can fall, you can fail, you can mess up, but there’s always another show,” he explained.
Though Ryan has found his passion in broadcast meteorology, he admits that prior to attending UIW, it wasn’t a gig he had considered. Originally, his sights were set on a career at the National Weather Service or in the military. It’s because of his unexpected change in plans that his advice for current UIW students is to explore and try new things.
“I gave broadcast meteorology a shot and I loved it,” he said. “You’re in college – try everything. Find different parts of yourself. Don’t rule anything out and don’t give up. You can truly do anything you set your mind to.”
Ryan may not be sure what exactly is next for him – moving back home and working in the San Antonio market come to mind when you ask him what his plans are. No matter where he ends up though, Ryan says he’ll never stop being a student or a UIW Cardinal – pushing himself to achieve greatness, learning new things, and remembering those who helped him along the way.