A Proper Gator
By Cynthia Gonzales
This University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) alum started off as a Mustang in high school, earned an art degree as a Texas longhorn and graduated with an accounting degree as a Gator.
Who is this Proper Gator?
We introduce you to Tommy Tran, one of three managing partners of Proper Shoes. The native Kentuckian, moved to Houston when he was six. Now, the 36-year-old father of two is coming into his own with a sneaker boutique in Houston’s Heights.
UHD News recently sat down with Tran to learn more about this Proper Gator.
UHD News: What do you do at Proper Shoes?
Tran: I’m one of three partners … I do everything from making key decisions to assisting customers to mopping floors.
UHD News: What makes this business different than other area shoe stores?
Tran: We are a sneaker boutique that carries a variety of exclusive brands of sneakers and apparel—including the top tier account of Adidas, known as Consortium. We also have the highest level of Vans’, called Vault. We are the only store in Houston to hold this account. And the brand I’m most proud of is our house brand, Proper.
UHD News: How are you applying each of your degrees at Proper Shoes?
Tran: Each degree I earned is being used at Proper—from helping on designs of our house brand to managing finances.
UHD News: Tell us about your time at UHD?
Tran: My time at UHD was great. I spent most of my time in the new Marilyn Davies College of Business. I was working at the time, so UHD was affordable and convenient with night and weekend classes.
UHD News: How often do you get back to campus?
Tran: Truthfully, I have not been back to campus since I graduated in 2011. I felt I needed to establish myself first and then I would be more comfortable helping current and prospective students.
UHD News: What advice would you give prospective and current UHD students?
Tran: My number one advice would be to do what makes you happy. Ask as many questions as it takes and it's okay to make mistakes. Making mistakes allows you to grow and success does not happen overnight.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.