Student Organizations at UHD: Student Veterans Organization
Gators, you’ve found your place at UHD, but perhaps you’re still looking for your people. This fall, UHD News will publish a series of articles highlighting a few of the more than 70 student organizations available to you. More information on any of these organizations can be obtained from the Student Government Association.
First in a Series
By Ashley Kilday
The Student Veterans Organization (SVO) is a group created by veterans for veterans. Open to all regularly enrolled students at UHD, as well as to faculty and staff, SVO exists to help veterans with their transition out of the military, including managing benefits or other programs, and aiding them in becoming good students and professionals.
“SVO wants its members to be successful after their service,” said Tebra Reich, current SVO President. “We want to engage with and cultivate a community on campus. We are a diverse group who come from different branches and have different technical abilities. Some have dependents, and some have experienced combat.”
SVO provides networking opportunities, mentoring, and other touchstones for veterans at UHD. It also assists UHD students in finding affordable housing options, employment opportunities, and community impact opportunities. At 25 active members, the group participates in campus activities and events with a particular focus on community service projects. “Most recently, we partnered with UHD’s Black Student Association to visit the teachers’ aid department at the Houston Food Bank where we helped give out resources to schools in need,” Reich shared. “One goal for the upcoming semester is to send some of our members to a leadership seminar hosted by the veteran community.”
Reich served as a sergeant in the Marine Corps as an aviation electrician before coming to UHD to major in Biological and Physical Science. A few weeks before the fall 2021 semester, she made a campus visit and came upon an SVO meeting. Then-President Tameka Andrus’ devotion to building up the veteran group post-COVID was inspiring, and Reich found herself enthusiastic about getting involved. Although there weren’t many members after COVID, Reich wanted to rebuild and expand the organization’s campus presence. “I wanted veterans on campus to know that they had a place to go and people to talk to, people who understood their experiences and what they were currently going through,” she said.
One activity dear to the SVO is the veteran stole ceremony. Typically, graduation regalia is purchased or bestowed by an honor society. “Our office believes that our members, along with their dependents, have gone above and beyond by not only serving our country but also by doing something remarkable in continuing their higher education,” Reich explained. “We believe they should have something to show for their hard work, so we provide the blue SVO stole to them for free. For some of our more-distinguished graduates, we provide something more, like a customized challenge coin, that shows their accomplishments as well. The ceremony gives our current members, along with prior service members, a chance to be recognized within our community.”
How to Join
Individuals can join SVO through the Veterans Services page or when students register for benefits through the website. You can also follow SVO on Facebook. “We want to build up our socialization on campus,” Reich said. “Giving back to the UHD community is a big part of our organization, and we have a lot of resources to help those in need whether on campus or off.”
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.