UHV student overcomes early adversity, dives in to campus involvement

Chris Eaton

University of Houston-Victoria freshman Chris Eaton might be new to the Crossroads, but he’s already working to make his mark. The Houston native set out to start up an intramural basketball program before even setting foot on campus.

“I’m one of those kinds of people who likes to get involved in everything,” the 18-year-old said. “I’ve been playing basketball for pretty much my whole life and I wanted to see what I could do to get a program started.”

Eaton, an education major, began speaking with university personnel the summer before his freshman year. He wanted to know what programs were available, whether the university had adequate practice space and equipment. The intramural team isn’t a reality just yet, but he’s helped organize other similar events, such as Wiffle Ball tournaments, where proceeds benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“We wanted to do something where we were able to help other people,” he said.

Eaton’s active lifestyle wasn’t always in the cards for him. Doctors discovered a Wilms’ tumor on both his kidneys when he was just 5 years old. Surgeons removed one kidney and part of the other to keep the disease at bay, but warned it would have physical consequences.

“I was not supposed to play sports at all because of my kidneys,” he said. “But I didn’t listen. I went ahead and kept on playing behind my doctor’s back and it paid off.”

Eaton grew up to play basketball nearly each year of high school and also made the varsity football and track teams. After graduation, he said he wanted to bring his love of athletics along with him to college.

His ambitions don’t end with intramurals. Eaton said he hopes to see UHV as home to a full-fledged basketball program by the time he reaches senior year, and wouldn’t mind staying around Victoria to coach the team.

In the meantime, he said he’s enjoying his freshman year experiences, dorm living, classes and all. And he hopes to set a good example for the family members that will follow in his footsteps. Eaton is the oldest of six children and said he virtually raised his siblings as he grew up.

“My brothers and sisters, they are what keep me going,” he said. “I want to do it for them.”

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.

Allison Miles 361-570-4342