James Atkins, Manager of School Partnerships, Houston

Proud papa to Chunk and Nixie, James joins a long list of Catalyst team members whose devotion to dogs surpasses almost everything else in their lives.  (Note to James's parents and girlfriend: We said almost everything else in their lives!)  When he's not doting on Chunk and Nixie, James works tirelessly to expand Catalyst's presence in the Lone Star state, collaborating with his friend and colleague Chris Jackson to make our organization the largest provider of on-campus and online tutoring in Texas.  Though James's heart is in Texas, he was born in Riverside, California, and lived in Turkey for three years as a child before his parents, devoted military veterans Jim and Lori, moved their family to San Antonio.  James took to Texas like a varmint takes to a foxhole (that may or may not be an actual Texas saying), and in high school at John Paul Stevens he established himself as an equally strong student and athlete, taking AP and honors classes and competing in football.  After high school, James continued combining his passions for athletics and education, graduating from Texas State University with a B.S. in Exercise Sports Science and going on to earn a Master's in Health Education, also from Texas State. When he's not bringing Catalyst's college prep programs to districts throughout the state, James enjoys exercising, enlarging his "embarrassingly abundant shoes collection," spending time with his girlfriend, Emily, and traveling anywhere there's sun and sand. 

Why He Works for Catalyst

As a first-generation college graduate, James understands the importance of education and is fully invested in Catalyst's mission to help students get into college and earn scholarships.

How the Universe Has Punished Him for Being a Freakishly Good Test-Taker

Psssst!  Wanna hear something scandalous about James?  Pinky-swear not to tell him that we told you?  OK, here goes.  James Atkins – our rugged, sports-loving, UFC-watching Manager of School Partnerships in Houston – is secretly obsessed with... Home & Garden Television.  Yes, hard though it may be to believe, James would much rather watch the latest episode of HGTV's Divine Design with Candice Olson than something more traditionally "manly" (like a heated Octagon match or a YouTube video of an alligator fighting a tiger).  How, you may be wondering, has James managed to keep this aspect of himself secret for so long?  Simple.  He's devised an elaborate code system that replaces his favorite HGTV shows with TV shows ultra-manly men like to watch.  For example, if James plans to kick up his heels, open a pint of Chunky Monkey, and binge-watch a few episodes of Staged to Perfection, he'll just tell his buddies he's catching the latest Game of Thrones.  Thanks to Catalyst's government-grade surveillance system, we've been able to crack James's code.  Here's what James really means when he tells you he's watching various shows: Monday Night Football = Love It or List It; Ray Donovan = Beachfront Bargain Hunt; The Walking Dead = Design on a Dime; classic episodes of Breaking Bad = classic episodes of Tiny House Hunters; NCIS Los Angeles = Spice Up My Kitchen; and Law & Order: SVU is... actually, just Law & Order: SVU.  (I mean, the man watches some stuff that doesn't involve stylish home renovations.)

Favorite 80s Movie / Favorite 80s Nobel Laureate

Some Kind of Wonderful / Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize, 1984)