Double take: Zavala brothers share college, career goals

Nov 6, 2023Courtney Morris
Promise Scholars Francisco and Marcos Zavala

It’s like “The Parent Trap” when San Jacinto College student ambassadors Marcos and Francisco Zavala help new students with orientation, campus tours, and course selection.

Cue the double take.

“Half the time, when a student walks into our lab, we say the exact same thing at the same time,” Marcos said. “And half the time when the student leaves, they think I’m my brother, and my brother is me.”

“It’s like a comedy honestly,” Francisco added.

Looking and sounding alike aren’t the only things the brothers share — despite being 11 months apart. They’re also earning associate degrees in business administration debt-free through the Promise @ San Jac Scholarship. Available to all in-district high school seniors, the scholarship covers a San Jac degree or certificate 100% after other financial aid.

The former home-schooled students learned about Promise @ San Jac through a cousin. Both thought it sounded “too good to be true” but decided to apply while finishing high school in spring 2022.

Not only was the scholarship real, but they were also both eligible.

“We don’t have to worry about ever having to pay for a class here at San Jac,” Marcos said. “That’s taken a huge load off ourselves and our family as well.”

Although they had always wanted to attend college, the scholarship removed the guesswork from deciding when and where to start.

“It’s helped me by allowing me to focus on my studies instead of working or taking a gap year so I could afford to go to college,” Francisco said. “Now I’m saving up more money in the long run for a university and focusing on making better grades for future scholarships.”

While debt-free college was a big perk, both have found San Jac a second home because of the people.

“I've made friends who have the same goals and aspirations as I do, and they motivate me to do better in and out of school,” Francisco said.

“Everybody — from the faculty to the school administration — is extremely helpful and genuinely wants to see us succeed,” Marcos added.

As student ambassadors, the brothers even help newer Promise Scholars navigate college too, reminding them of deadlines and credit requirements. After San Jac, they will transfer to the University of Houston-Clear Lake to pursue bachelor’s degrees in finance.

“Figuring out transferring here has been a breeze,” Marcos said. “I have my whole two-year degree mapped out and my two-year degree at UHCL mapped out as well.”

While Marcos may work in a medical or oil field business office or become a personal financial advisor, Francisco is eyeing the government sector. After getting workforce experience, they hope to open a gym together someday.

For now, though, they’re laser-focused on finishing their studies at San Jac. What’s it like working and attending college together?

“It’s fun,” Marcos said. “We save gas for sure.”

Cash for College

November is National Scholarship Month, and San Jac offers plenty of scholarships to make a college degree or certificate within your reach!

High school seniors who live in San Jac’s taxing district are eligible for the Promise @ San Jac Scholarship. Learn more at

Beginning Feb. 15, current students may apply for San Jacinto College Foundation and departmental scholarships at

Categorized As