Business students juggle family, school to accomplish goals

When Ashley Burns received an email naming her the University of Houston-Victoria School of Business Administration Outstanding Graduate Student, she was so surprised that she verified the announcement with UHV. 

Ashley Burns

“I was so blown away that I didn’t believe it was real,” Burns said. “I was emotional. It’s nice to be recognized and know I achieved something of this level.”

Burns, a Rosenberg resident, was named the school’s Outstanding Graduate Student, and Andrea Rodriguez of Seabrook and Tyson Lopez of Rosenberg, are the school’s Outstanding Undergraduate Students.

Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold fall commencement at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane in Katy. A livestream of the ceremony can be seen at

Chuck Stowe

“Ashley, Andrea and Tyson came into the school with different education and work experiences,” said Chuck Stowe, interim dean of the school. “Yet they were similar in this respect – all three were extremely dedicated students who worked hard to get to where they are now. I’m happy to recognize them.”

On Saturday, Burns will receive her Strategic Master of Business Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship. She hopes to be accepted into a fast-track management program in Houston.

When searching for an ideal university from which to earn her MBA, Burns said UHV’s convenience, format of both online and face-to-face courses, and the UHV Katy teaching center appealed to her. She also appreciated the ease in working with UHV’s Veteran Affairs.

“In addition to UHV’s notoriety, the school as a whole is really easy for military students to go in and complete required documentation for the GI Bill,” she said. “It was a great experience.”

Rodriguez, who originally is from Chile, will receive her Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in human resources. She wants to continue working in HR after the company where she worked for 15 years was bought out, and her role moved from accounting to a combination of accounting and HR.

Andrea Rodriguez

“I enjoyed working with people and decided to pursue a career in HR,” she said. “I chose a degree in business to strengthen my skills and knowledge. UHV provided valuable information that I could apply to the workforce, so I feel prepared to grow my HR career.”

In addition, she would like to expand her knowledge and is considering pursuing a master’s in computer science. It will be helpful to improve her technical and analytical skills to meet growing market needs, she said.

For Lopez, a Wharton County Junior College transfer student, the UHV School of Business Administration was a natural choice because of its business accreditation by AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and the university’s competitive cost of tuition. His Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in finance was selected because of his growing interest in the stock market.

Tyson Lopez

He’s always sought to achieve what he wants, but he never expected recognition for it, Lopez said.

“I work hard,” he said. “It’s heartwarming to know that I was nominated by professors who took notice of that.”

Lopez credits his close-knit family and friends for supporting him during his studies.

“There’s no such thing as a self-made person,” he said. “There always was someone along the way who either gave me an opportunity or supported me – UHV faculty, my employer and my friends and family. That’s what allowed me to accomplish the level of success that I’ve been able to experience.”

Rodriguez also experienced tremendous support during her studies, from the accessibility of UHV faculty in her online program to her husband who helped her with other responsibilities.

“I could not have done it without him,” she said.

Burns gives credit to her professors and husband for being the biggest support system during her studies.

“Professor David Summers and Jifu Wang were incredible and always accessible when I had questions or needed help,” she said. “My husband was there for our family when I couldn’t play mommy because of my classwork. I was crazy busy, and he stepped up. I’m grateful he was there during challenging times.”

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.

Ashley Strevel 361-570-4342