UHV student embraces nontraditional status

Brenda Ward

University of Houston-Victoria student Brenda Ward is a self-proclaimed “nontraditional” student. For starters, she’s 58 years old, the mother of six adult children and the grandmother of 13.

“It’s actually 13 3/4 grandchildren,” said Ward, referring to another grandson who is expected to be born at the end of September.

But what makes Ward truly unique is that in May, she will be the first person in her family to achieve a college degree. Her motivation was simple. After not being able to convince any of her children to pursue secondary education, she finally decided to go herself and was willing to sacrifice for the opportunity.

“I didn’t have any luck convincing any of my children to go to college,” said Ward, who has lived in Victoria for the last 30 years. “So I sold my house, sold my new car, downsized to a one-bedroom apartment and paid cash for a clunker so I could afford college.”

She enrolled in 2001, but even with her sacrifices, she was forced to leave school for four years. Returning this semester, she’s even more determined to reach her goal.

“No more taking time off,” Ward said. “I will walk that stage in May.”

Ward said the very same family members she couldn’t coax into college have been very supportive on her journey to getting a bachelor’s degree in communication.

“My whole family has been behind me 100 percent since the day I started,” she said. “It really helps to have such a large support system, and I now have a daughter who I’ve convinced to go to nursing school.”

Ward said that as an older student, she sometimes gets strange reactions from her fellow classmates, but she thinks maturity allows her to be more dedicated to finishing school and getting her degree. Her advice to other nontraditional students is not to wait.

“If you’re waiting for the time or the money to go back to school, if you’re waiting for everything to allow you to go back, you will never get there,” Ward said. “Just do it!”

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler  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.