Victoria physician starts UHV endowments for veterans, first-generation students

Dr. Sanjeev Bhatia, founder and medical director of Crossroads Health Center, throws out the first pitch to University of Houston-Victoria first baseman Joshua Boothe before the Jan. 25 Jaguars home opener. Bhatia recently established two UHV endowed scholarships in his parents’ names.

To honor his parents and support local education, Dr. Sanjeev Bhatia recently established two $10,000 University of Houston-Victoria endowed scholarships.

Bhatia, the founder and medical director of Crossroads Health Center in Victoria, said education is the best way to make a difference in someone’s life. He has seen plenty of examples of how higher education has provided a lift to family, friends and students in the community.

As his first gifts to UHV, Bhatia created endowed scholarships in his parents’ names. The endowments are the Om Prakash Bhatia Scholarship for First Generation Students and the Urmil Bhatia Scholarship for Veterans. The scholarships will be given to a student who is the first in his family to attend college and to an honorably discharged military student.

“My parents encouraged us to try to pursue our goals and do something that is helpful for everyone,” Bhatia said.

Bhatia chose to name the veteran’s scholarship after his mother because she is service oriented and eager to help others. Bhatia’s father became the first person to go to college in his family.

“My father worked in public health in India,” Bhatia said. “He would go to villages to fight different diseases. Growing up, I thought that being a doctor was one of the best jobs because you can help communities and patients. At the end of the day, you often can see the patient getting better in front of your eyes. It’s one of the most gratifying professions.”

Bhatia will donate the $20,000 for the endowments during the next five years. Because he did not want to wait to assist students until the endowments were fully funded, Bhatia will donate $800 annually for scholarships in the interim. The first two $400 scholarships will be awarded in the fall.

Bhatia’s own education included a residency in internal medicine at the New York University Downtown Hospital and a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at the University of Connecticut in Farmington.

After moving to Victoria in 2004, Bhatia established Crossroads Health Center in 2007. The center provides walk-in medical care seven days a week. Bhatia is board certified in internal medicine, hospice and palliative care, and sleep medicine. His special interests include complex medical disorders, sleep disorders, geriatric and end-of-life care. A few students in UHV’s Master of Science Family Nurse Practitioner program are being mentored by Crossroads staff.

Bhatia said UHV does a great job providing affordable education with quality faculty members.

“I like to follow what’s going on in Victoria, so I’m aware of how UHV is collaborating with different organizations in town,” he said. “The university has made it easier to transition into college. It’s a great university, and the sky is the limit, especially with Victoria growing.”

He and Greg Rutzen, UHV associate vice president for University Advancement and chief advancement officer, talked at length about different ways to help UHV.

“We came up with a couple of ideas that match up my goals with the university’s goals,” Bhatia said.

Rutzen was appreciative of Bhatia’s generosity.

“We discussed how vital scholarship support is to student retention and success,” Rutzen said. “My plan was to ask Dr. Bhatia to endow one scholarship; it was his idea to establish two. This level of generosity is all but unheard of for someone making his first contribution to the university. Students will benefit from his gifts for generations to come, and for this we are extremely grateful.”

Bhatia threw out the first pitch Jan. 25 during opening day of the Jaguars baseball season. Bhatia said he had never played baseball; he grew up playing cricket.

“UHV baseball coach Terry Puhl gave me some pointers on how to throw a pitch, and I think I did OK,” Bhatia said as he laughed.

For information about applying for one of the UHV scholarships, contact the Office of Financial Aid at 361-570-4125 or visit

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.

Jeremy Shapiro