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The UHD Life of Riley Hardwick


By Sheryl E. Taylor

It wasn’t too long after Riley Hardwick was born that she became a Houstonian. In fact, she was four years old when her family made Houston their home by way of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Now almost 18 years later, Hardwick is a UHD junior majoring in Safety Management with a minor in Sustainability. She attended Harmony School of Advancement, a STEM college-prep school, before becoming a Gator.

Riely HardwickEven though she isn’t a first-generation college student, people are surprised to learn that she is a second-generation student: “My grandparents and great-grandparents were veterans, housewives, and rural farmers,” she said. “None of them pursued any degree higher than a high school diploma. My parents were the first in each of their families to attend college or acquire advanced degrees.” 

Since arriving to UHD, her Gator life has been filled with numerous scholarships and accolades, some through her membership in the Scholars Academy. The first was the Mallett Scholarship for SCT Student/Houston PREP Alumni, the Red Rose Scholarship, and the Be On Time Scholarship. Previously, Hardwick was the recipient of the Being the Difference award from the Houston Urban Debate League for her service in its speech and debate program. 

Her favorite part of being a UHD Gator? 

“The bustling nature of UHD. Considering how lively Houston is, it only makes sense that UHD culture is just as lively,” she said. “There are always different classes, events, conferences, or competitions to attend. UHD is not isolated from the rest of the city. UHD is the city. You can take one Metro rail ride and find a dozen different bars or restaurants. You can take another ride and go dancing with your friends after school. Take another ride and visit the Museum District. When you attend UHD, you have the entire city at your fingertips.” 

Her future plans include graduating in Fall 2023, followed by pursuing a Master of Science degree in Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Management. “Workplaces are becoming more dedicated to mitigating risk factors, and sustainability considerations are becoming increasingly prevalent,” the 21-year-old said. “I would like to be in a field where I can regularly protect people and the environment.”

And in the next five years?  

“I want to begin my post-graduate life by traveling to Australia to explore its culture. It has one of the best social mobility rates in the world, numerous social protections not available in the U.S., gorgeous weather and natural landmarks, and one of my best friends lives there—it seems like a pretty good choice,” she said. “There’s so much art, culture, science, politics, people, and philosophies to explore. I want to learn as much as I can about this world, while I can,” Hardwick added. “I want to learn to live the best life that I can, and help others do the same while making this world a better place.” 

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.