St. Paul said, “For when I am weak, I am strong,” (2 Cor. 12:10). Alumnus Zach Weik ’14 speaks of his weaknesses, humility and UST’s liberal arts education as the foundation that shaped who he is today.
“When I was about to graduate, I started to understand why God wanted me at St. Thomas,” Weik said. “I believe he wanted me to keep growing as a leader in faith and character because he knew St. Thomas would expose all my weaknesses. My faith, leadership and education were all areas I lacked at the time, and I’m still growing.”
A reluctance to attend college
With a Lebanese and Cuban immigrant background, Weik never wanted to go to college, but his parents insisted. Weik said college is when he first started listening to nudges from the Holy Spirit. He was president of the Student Activity Board and had other leadership roles on campus, and, in his eyes, he failed many times.
“I look back and there are so many things I wish I would’ve done better, but those are all the growing pains that would propel me to my next chapter in life,” he said. “The only way that I’ve been able to grow is through humility.”
Learning to be resilient
Learning to pick himself back up from his failures helped him see that he was responsible for his mistakes and needed to own, handle and learn from them. Again, strength through weakness.
Weik graduated in three-and-a-half years with a degree in finance from Cameron School of Business. After several internships and applying to about 50 companies, no one hired him. By the grace of God, he was hired by PwC as a management consultant in Houston. He knew right away he did not belong there, but the five-year work experience taught him a lot about business and continued to sharpen his humility.
Recognizing an unexpected opportunity
Then, something amazing happened. After quitting his job, four consecrated women at a dinner asked him if he’d be interested in going to Italy to visit the Focolare Movement, an international Catholic organization that promotes the ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. Living in community with 30 men and 30 women for three months changed Weik’s life.
“I needed to learn how to love others,” he said. “As a leader, you’re responsible for people. I had to learn to put their interests before mine and put my ego aside.”
Sharing his strength in weakness
Coming back to the U.S., he wanted others to experience living in community, so he became a real estate broker and focused on multi-family apartments. Now 28 years old and with more business acumen, he and two partners are founding a commercial real estate start-up company called Ziro. The company is an online platform to help commercial investors buy and sell real estate online. It launches in January and Weik hopes this will help build up communities around the world.
“Back at St. Thomas, I could never have predicted this,” he said. “I was always planning for the future, and UST and the Focolare taught me to live in the moment. When I feel lost, it’s because my ego is too big. It’s about making mistakes and getting back up.”