Q&A with Taiya Youngs
Recently, psychology major Taiya Youngs was selected to join the League of Women Voters Rising Stars program — for Houstonians who have contributed to civic engagement and are recognized as future leaders.
UHD News spoke with Youngs about her path to this achievement and other interests.
Why did you choose UHD?
I graduated high school early at the age of 16. As soon as I turned 18, I started looking for a college. UHD reached out to me. In fact, Dr. Mari Nicholson-Preuss, director of the University’s Honors Program, emailed me personally and asked me to join. That made coming to UHD a done deal. I love it here.
Do you plan on using your psychology degree in your future career plans?
My passion is clinical community psychology. I’m still deciding between psychiatry and clinical psychology, but my number one goal is to help build stronger communities.
How did you get interested in civic engagement?
My interest stems from wanting to spread knowledge about mental health. I want people to understand that psychology is a real science, it has a basis in biological and sociological factors. A lot of people could help themselves if they understood the basics of taking care of their mental health. When people take care of themselves, then the community becomes healthier.
How did you get involved with the League of Women Voters?
When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer and get into politics. I actually was on the front page of the Houston Chronicle because I was vice-president of my elementary school when President Barack Obama was elected.
I started volunteering with the League of Women Voters this fall semester for the Texas Tribune’s ‘Future of Urban Texas’ event that included “A Conversation With The Mayors” panel. I found it really interesting and I enjoyed hearing about what other people wanted to do to help the communities they serve. I also started a UHD chapter of Active Minds, which is a mental health awareness national organization.
Dr. Gene Preuss noticed my interests and how I was being active. He suggested I apply for Rising Stars. I looked into it and realized Rising Stars perfectly ties into my goals. It also gives me a chance to make connections and spread awareness about mental health in our city.
How has Rising Stars helped you with your personal and professional goals?
Rising Stars has inspired me to look more into politics. I feel like people my age don’t care a lot about politics. If I want to better my community, I need to know what’s going on. It makes me want to develop and acquire more knowledge.
Civic engagement is important for college students because it is a connection tool. It teaches the practice of being involved rather than simply classroom learning.
Do you have any advice for others?
Self-care is important. Take an hour out of the day to do something that you love to do. Say your goals out loud and give yourself an hour every day.
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.