19-year-old juniors take classes at UHV

At just 19, she’s already a junior at the University of Houston-Victoria. And she’s not alone.

Lacricia Ryan

Despite being an upper-level institution offering junior-, senior- and graduate-level courses, UHV has five students like Lacricia Ryan who already take classes.

“I never really felt challenged in high school,” said the education major, who lives in El Campo. “I was bored.”

So she pushed herself by taking three years of summer school and graduating early. She also brought that same drive to her junior college class work.

“I took something like 20 hours in my first semester,” she said. She continued taking summer classes and up to 17 hours a semester to finally transfer to UHV in the spring.

“It keeps me where I’m active and not bored at home,” she said.

At UHV, she found the challenge she was seeking.

“I really enjoy my classes,” she said. “My professors really interact with us as we learn. They treat the students more as equals.”

Ryan plans to graduate next year at age 20 with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She then plans to work full time and pursue her master’s degree at UHV.

“I just have to figure out in what, first,” she said. Once she decides what education master’s degree she wants, she hopes to earn it by the time she’s 21.

“It’s no small thing to get into an upper-level institution by age 19,” UHV Registrar Trudy Wortham said. “You have to have 30 hours just to be dual enrolled at a junior college and 54 hours to be a fully enrolled here.”

Despite the challenge, four other students have managed to make the same transition as Ryan.

David James

David James, also 19, said he didn’t really enjoy his classes at Memorial High School in Victoria. He eschewed electives to complete his required classes as quickly as possible so he could start pursuing a business degree. After graduation, he hopes to become an accountant or an investment adviser.

Like Ryan, he also took heavy class loads of 17 hours a semester to get where he is so quickly. The strong encouragement of his parents also helped, he said.

The three other students told similar tales of boredom with high school and a desire to achieve their dreams as quickly as possible.

“I love my UHV classes because the teachers make it very interactive instead of just giving us a lecture,” James said. The emphasis on interaction and student involvement helps him learn.

“It speaks very highly of our curriculum and programs that such bright and driven students choose to come here,” said Suzanne LaBrecque, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs. “If the Legislature grants our expansion to a four-year institution, we may see some exceptional 16-year-olds walking our halls.”

The expansion, which recently was approved by the University of Houston System Board of Regents, could be authorized by the Texas Legislature during the 2009 session. If permission is granted, UHV could welcome its first 190 freshmen and sophomores for the fall of 2010.

To start at UHV, students currently must have 54 credit hours, or 30 credit hours and be co-enrolled at a junior college, Wortham said.

For more information about transferring to UHV, contact Student Solutions at 361-573-0000.

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.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342