UHV student goes back to school after 22 years at chemical plant

University of Houston-Victoria student Rick Navarro is proud to be a nontraditional student.

Rick Navarro
Rick Navarro

Navarro graduated from Calhoun High school in 1977 and spent 22 years as an operator in a chemical plant and then as an instrument electrical technician.

But in 2004, he was laid off and found himself wondering where life would lead him. Navarro decided to try something new and was given an opportunity to participate in a special program for displaced workers provided by the Texas Workforce Commission.

“They offered me a scholarship to go back to school and get a bachelor’s degree,” he said. “They gave me two years, so I worked like a madman at UHV. I had a goal. I knew if I really was going to do something different, something that would impact my life for the next 15 or 20 years, I needed to be focused.”

Navarro said returning to school can be hard for older students because they have to learn many of the skills that today’s high school students acquire while in school.

“Thirty years is a long time to take a break from college, and then when you try to come back, a lot has changed,” Navarro said.

Navarro’s hard work paid off, and in the spring of 2007, he graduated from UHV with a bachelor’s degree in communication.

For the past three years, Navarro has been an interactive video technician in UHV’s Information Technology Department.

“One of the things I realized when I came back to college is that I was very tech illiterate,” he said. “That’s why I enjoy my job. It allows me the opportunity to stay current with changing technology. I’ve talked to many people who have come back to college because of layoffs or career transitions. They just do not realize the need to have competent computer skills.”

Navarro is in the process of completing an undergraduate certificate in Spanish and working toward a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies at UHV. He is involved at UHV with the Gamma Beta Phi national honor society, the Mexican American Student Organization and United Campus Ministry.

Navarro also works as the employee development coordinator for a refining company in Seadrift.

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.