UHV counseling student makes a difference to youth, adults with disabilities

Sarah Ritchea

Some people see an issue and simply hope for the best. Others work to make a difference. University of Houston-Victoria graduate student Sarah Ritchea wants to bring change.

The 26-year-old is working toward a career as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

She chose the career path because she has been touched by counseling issues in various ways throughout her life.

“There is mental illness in my family, and I’ve worked with special needs children since I was young,” she said. “I’ve even had my own problems. I wanted to turn it all into something positive.”

Ritchea hasn’t limited her studies to the classroom, however. She has obtained firsthand knowledge through work experience.

She previously worked at Devereux, a nonprofit group that assists children and adults with disabilities, and now works with individuals at the Gulf Bend Center’s group home.

“I love working with the children and adolescents, but the adults are great, too,” she said. “I like what I do.”

Ritchea, who grew up in the Crossroads, graduated from Yoakum High School. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

UHV was a natural decision for her graduate work. Not only was it close to home, but her mother, Wanda Ritchea, leads United Campus Ministries at UHV and Victoria College.

“I already had that support system here,” she said. “There was a strong foundation. It just made sense.”

Away from the classroom and work, Ritchea remains active in her church choir, as well as United Campus Ministries. Her three dogs, which range from 10 to 96 pounds, also keep her busy.

“They’re something else,” she said with a smile and a shake of her head. “But they’re great.”

Life might be busy for the student at the moment, but it’s manageable. She hopes to graduate in spring 2012 and looks forward to her future career.

She advised others who are still in school to work hard and keep their eyes on the prize.

“Stay focused on your goals,” she said. “It’s worth all the work.”

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.

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.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342