12:02 PM

Age Is Just A Number: Ask Recent Grad Thomas James


By Sheryl E. Taylor

It’s no secret that the University of Houston-Downtown is special, different and non-traditional.

The UHD student body…more than 50 percent are part-time students who are balancing work, family and school and the average age is between 25-30 percent. And this spring, we have three graduates who are over the age of 60.

In fact, Thomas James is 69 years of age and now a proud Gator alumnus.

Even though James has worked all of his life, he knew that his life’s purpose wasn’t being fulfilled and that it was just beginning. “I’m healthy, I take care of myself, and honestly, I don’t feel my age,” he emphasized. “I believe you are as young as you feel and my purpose in this world is not over yet. God told me that he could still use me, and that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. So now I’m pursuing my dream with the gift that God has given me … my mind.”

By way of Maryland, James moved to Houston in 1989. He attended Houston Community College to earn two certifications (Mental Health & Services-Chemical Dependency Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Intern). It was suggested that attend UHD for a bachelor's degree, which he earned in 2017.

And, he’s glad he did.

“It’s an excellent institution for learning,” said the Pittsburgh native. “You really experience how the professors are sincerely concerned about ensuring that their students learn and grasp the information they taught, and they always made themselves available when you needed it.”

For the now 2020 graduate, it just made sense to continue his educational journey at UHD to pursue a master’s in Nonprofit Management.

Presently, James works at a transitional facility that monitors individuals who have been released to the facility’s care from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville to complete their last 60 to 90 days prior to their final release. Once they successfully complete the facility’s program, they can be discharged back to their family and community. 

With his new degree, James plans to continue his college journey to earn a Ed.D. with career aspirations to teach at the University of Houston-Downtown.“I have burning desire to teach and have an positive impact, just like the University had an impact on me,” James emphasized. “It’s not just about giving back to the community; I believe I can make a difference.”Any advice or encouragement for someone who may be thinking about going back to college?

“If you want it bad enough you can do it,” he said. “The only limitations for reaching higher is ourselves. Follow your heart and don’t let anyone or anything deter you from your dream.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

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.