Gator for Life
By Ashley Kilday, Contributing Writer
Andrea Irvin, UHD alumna and staffer, is a shining example of Gator Grit. Her journey to get her degree reflects determination, persistence, and a strong connection to the University that runs through her family’s history.
Irvin’s initial college experience at UHD in 2000 ended before she graduated. Her return was motivated by a simple yet powerful conversation with her son. “What are you going to do when you grow up?” she asked, to which he replied, “I'm going to work in a cafeteria with you and Uncle Ace.” The lighthearted remark sparked a fire in Irvin, making her determined to set an example for her children and complete her education.
UHD has always been a significant part of Irvin’s family, with her mother working at the University’s cafeteria shortly after Irvin was born. Irvin, her brother, sister, and stepfather all followed suit, creating a legacy that speaks to the strong sense of family that UHD embodies. “UHD to me is family, whether it’s the cafeteria or the school,” Irvin explained. However, she recognized her mother’s dream for her children to pursue broader horizons and decided to return to UHD to create a better future for her family and herself.
The journey back to college was far from easy, with Irvin balancing the demands of being a parent while studying and attending classes. “I went back to school when my daughter was six months old. I tell everyone, don’t do it when you have a newborn, trust me,” she joked. The years were filled with challenges and sacrifices, but Irvin persevered and finally walked across the stage, graduating in 2022 at the age of 39, proving that age is no barrier to success.
Having experienced the highs and lows as a student, Irvin’s journey led her to her current role as an undergraduate admissions counselor at UHD. Initially considering careers as a social worker and a teacher, she found her true calling in guiding high school students toward their next educational journey. Irvin and her fellow admission counselors actively engage with students, visiting high schools and presenting at events, spreading the word about UHD’s affordable and supportive community. “Even after you graduate, you are still a part of UHD forever,” Irvin emphasized.
In her role as an admissions counselor, Irvin sees herself as more than just a recruiter. She is a guiding figure for prospective students, offering support and counsel throughout the entire admissions process. “I’m the type of person that’s going to continue to check on people to make sure everything is good.”
Gator for Life
Through her genuine care and dedication, Irvin embodies the spirit of the Gator community, making her a valuable asset to UHD. With her passion and love for the institution, she is set to make a lasting impact on current and future Gators, fostering a legacy of strength, support, and success for generations to come. As she puts it herself, “Gator runs through my blood; I’m a Gator for life.”
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.