09:39 PM

UHD Alum Christyana and Ta'Mara: Two Degrees, One Journey

By Paige Caldwell

A picture is worth a thousand words.

For University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) spring 2018 grad Christyana Young and her mother Ta'Mara Foster, their picture was worth hundreds of thousands of likes and shares across social media.

The viral photo was posted by Foster on Facebook on May 10. The photo featured a side-by-side comparison. On one side was Foster when she was a single mother at 20 years old, sitting with one-year-old Young. The other side of the image captured the two of them together in their respective graduation regalia, 20 years later and all smiles.

For these native Houstonians, the photo was a memento reminding them of how far they’ve come. Foster began her undergraduate studies at the same time that Young entered kindergarten. It took her 10 years while working full-time as a single mom, but she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas Women’s University in 2013. After working for many years in HSE and human resources in the industrial construction and oil & gas industries, Foster decided that law school was something that she wanted to do.

Young graduated from Manvel High School in Alvin Independent School District in 2015. After graduation, she knew that she wanted to stay close to home and to her mother.

In the fall of 2015, both Young and Foster began their studies; Foster at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and Young at UHD.

“When I was researching universities, my mom actually brought up UHD,” said Young. “We both liked it because it was affordable and had flexible course schedules, which worked out because throughout my time at UHD, I’ve taken online, early morning and night classes.”

Any post-secondary education can be challenging. The pressures and rigor of law school however, can be especially demanding.

“We supported each other,” Foster said. “She's been one of my greatest support systems throughout law school. We did it as a team and with the unwavering support from our family.”

For Young, she found support not only in her mother, but also at UHD.

“I really liked the small class sizes. I’ve gotten to know my professors and have had one on one time with them, as well as my classmates,” Young said. “That really helped me a lot.”

Young worked as a teacher’s assistant through college and now with her Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from UHD, the 21-year-old feels that education is her calling. Whether it’s volunteering or working with young people in a professional capacity, Young will continue to impact the lives of youth.

For Foster, while her focus is on studying for the bar exam and becoming the best attorney that she can be, one thing is for sure: none of this would have been possible without each other.

“Christyana is just as much a part of my success as I am hers,” Foster said. "We hope to encourage others who are pursuing their education and career goals to work hard and persevere."

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second largest university in Houston—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 Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz. Annually, UHD educates more than 14,000 students; boasts over 45,000 alumni and offers 44 bachelor’s and eight master’s degree programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service, Sciences & Technology; and University College). In 2018, UHD grew its First Time in College student population by 11 percent and transfer students by 14 percent.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston. It also is ranked among 15 U.S. universities with lowest net price to students (according to the U.S. Department of Education). The University is noted nationally as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.