UH Engineering Graduate Student Earns Gold In World Karate Championship


Brian Allen

University of Houston mechanical engineering graduate student Sandy Geffert won gold and silver medals in the world's most highly regarded karate championship held Aug. 21-25 in Pisa, Italy.

Geffert claimed the gold medal for women's point fighting (-55Kg) and silver medals for softstyle and team kata at this year's World Karate Association's (WKA) World Championship. A year ago, the UH honors graduate burst onto the international scene by winning silver and bronze medals at the WKA championship.

"I am truly honored just to have had the chance to represent my country," says Geffert. "The feeling of winning a World Championship title is indescribable, and it was a moment that I will remember the rest of my life."

It is not only the height, but also the breadth of Sandy's accomplishments that makes her unique. She participates in all three main categories of competition, a notable feat, especially considering that the three areas-fighting, soft kata and hard kata-are very different and require completely separate training regimens.

In 2001, she captured two silver medals and one bronze medal at the WKA World Championship in Vienna, Austria. "The WKA World Championship is the world's most prestigious international event," says Master John Peavey, Geffert's karate instructor for the past 12 years. "The event featured participants from more than 80 countries and is easily the largest open-circuit karate championship in the world."

"Through all of her college years, she was training four to five nights a week and teaching karate to students and still staying up till two o'clock in the morning studying, getting up the next day and going to the University of Houston," says Peavey. "And what does she do? She graduates with honors in mechanical engineering. It takes a special person to have that kind of drive and that kind of commitment. And all the time she was doing that she was winning state titles, traveling and competing against the state's best black belt women."

Geffert graduated with honors in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from UH. She is in her second year in UH's mechanical engineering graduate program and serves as the undergraduate student advisor for the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

For more information about how Sandy Geffert balances engineering with karate, click here.

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