UHV alumnus lands job in COVID-19 testing site

For the past couple of weeks, University of Houston-Victoria alumnus Terry Harryman has trained for a job that will put him in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Terry Harryman

Harryman recently took a position as a clinical laboratory extraction technician at Sparrow Health Care, a small biotechnology lab in Houston that soon will begin COVID-19 testing. He was working at Dow Chemical when he applied to the health care lab.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if I should change to another job so quickly, but the lab is a great job for me to be at right now,” Harryman said. “This job at the lab is more in line with what I studied at UHV, and I am grateful for this opportunity.”

Harryman, a Victoria native, graduated in December from UHV with a Bachelor of Science in biology. While he was a UHV student, Harryman volunteered to assist professors with projects and research every chance he could.

Dmitri Sobolev

“There are so many educational opportunities at UHV,” Harryman said. “You can get hands-on experience in the lab, and your professors will actually take the time to explain the research. Because I volunteered and made time for these opportunities, I now have more job opportunities. I am grateful.”

Harryman assisted in projects and research with UHV biology faculty and presented biology research in the fall at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Texas at Austin. Harryman assisted with aquatic biology environmental and nutrient analysis research with Dmitri Sobolev, a UHV associate biology professor. The research involved studying water samples from the Guadalupe River.

“Terry is a quick learner, very easy to work with and a good student,” Sobolev said. “He is disciplined and everything that is needed for lab work.”

Harryman also assisted with genome sequencing projects and work on DNA and RNA with assistant biology professors Gen Kaneko and Hashimul Ehsan. Experience on these projects would prove to be useful and vital for his current job.

Ehsan said Harryman was a great student with a good personality and work ethic, and he is glad to hear that his former student was able to obtain a job in a lab that will be doing COVID-19 testing.

Hashimul Ehsan

“We need as many people as possible to overcome this pandemic, and Terry is making a great contribution in this matter,” Ehsan said. “He is a great model for UHV students, and I am very proud of him. I know he will do well in the lab.”

Harryman said he is not sure when the lab will start receiving COVID-19 tests, but he expects to start working on tests during the next few weeks. He hopes that the work he is doing will help save more lives.

While Harryman doesn’t personally know anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, the pandemic has impacted his family. His wife gave birth prematurely to their son at the beginning of March, but because of the pandemic, visitors are not allowed into DeTar Hospital. Harryman has been unable to see his son and wife, but he hopes they will be discharged safely and soon from the hospital.

He also hopes that people will continue to take precautions and take the disease seriously.

“What will help this pandemic go away is if people listen and follow what officials are saying because it will get worse if people are not taking this seriously enough,” Harryman said. “I am ready for the tests to come in. Everything I learned through the projects at UHV is what I am doing at this job.”

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.

Amber Aldaco