Graduate plans to draw from her past in soothing others’ pains

With aspirations to become a physician assistant, Ryley Reyes looks forward to helping people with medical ailments by drawing from her educational background in biology and from life experiences dealing with her own health challenges.

Ryley Reyes

“I’ve actually known that I wanted to go in the science direction since I was about 14,” said Reyes, who was then diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. “It was a big change in my life, so it was a big motivating factor for me.”

Though a treatment finally worked that put her into remission, she has had her share of medical appointments through the years, which gave her insight into the medical field and inspired her to become like those who had helped her.

Reyes was recently recognized for her academic excellence by the UHV College of Natural & Applied Science for the spring semester. Reyes of Bloomington was named the college’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student. Dat Le of Houston was chosen as its Outstanding Graduate Student.

Dmitri Sobolev

“These students are excellent, driven scholars,” said Dmitri Sobolev, interim dean of the college. “We are proud to see them receive this recognition for their hard work. I wish them well as they take their next steps in their careers.”

Each semester, professors from UHV’s four colleges select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold two spring graduation ceremonies on May 14 at Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane. The 10 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the colleges of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and Natural & Applied Science. The 3 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the colleges of Business and Education & Health Professions. A live-streaming broadcast of the ceremonies will be available at

On Saturday, Reyes will receive a Bachelor of Science in biology, which she has been working on for four years. She credited her family and professors with giving her the support system to succeed in college.

“My family was always there for me,” she said.

She also appreciated the advising she received from professors like Daniel White, an associate professor and director of the graduate biology program.

“If you have any questions about your degree plan or class, don’t be afraid to ask a question. That is what really helped me the most,” she said.

After graduating, she plans to work a while then apply to physician assistant schools to get a master’s degree. Afterward, she wants to specialize in hematology and oncology. The source of her inspiration came from the kindness bestowed on her and her family by Susan Kirk, a physician assistant at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

“She was just so friendly. I was so nervous going to the doctor each time, and my family as well. And just seeing her each time and seeing how friendly she was to us just calmed us down whenever we were worried about things,” Reyes recalled. “Whenever we had any questions about anything, she was just a very comforting presence for us.”

Those are qualities Reyes looks forward to exuding herself as a medical professional.

“I just want to be someone patients can see as very helpful and who can explain things easily to them,” she said. “I would like to be a good source of education and a comforting presence for my patients, as my physician assistant was for me.”

She believes the challenges she has been through with her own health will make her an empathetic and helpful resource to others.

“I think it will help me be more compassionate toward my patients because I know firsthand how scary it is and how confusing it can be,” she said.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.