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UHD Student Wins $100,000 Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway


By Mike Emery

Houston did not have a team in any of this year’s NCAA conference football title games, but a local student came up as one of the weekend’s biggest winners.

University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) student Alberto Reyes was among the winners of the 2018 Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway. During last weekend’s PAC-12 championship game in Santa Clara, California, Reyes competed in the Tuition Throw (tossing a football from the five yard line into a giant Dr. Pepper can located in the end zone). When all was said and done, Reyes successfully bested his competitor (with 15 completed passes) and earned $100,000 to apply toward college tuition.

Reyes, a senior business major, arrived in Santa Clara after being selected as a Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway finalist based on a video submission. In Reyes’ video, he explains his passion for helping others while strolling through the UHD campus. The Marilyn Davies College of Business student also mentions that he’s the son of immigrants and wants to help others in underserved communities better manage their finances.

“I strongly believe that teaching financial literacy will help families in my community and all around the country live better lives and focus on the things that matter,” Reyes says in the video while walking in the Gator Den.

Reyes is scheduled to graduate from the Marilyn Davies College of Business in spring 2019 then will continue his graduate studies in accounting at an institution to be determined.

The $100,000 takes a massive financial weight off of Reyes’ shoulders. The Denver Harbor native has worked since the age of 16 to save money for college, and Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway is a dream come true.

“It was surreal,” he said. “When I looked up and saw I won the competition, I couldn’t believe it.”

He didn’t play football in high school, but Reyes made sure his passing skills were polished before arriving in Santa Clara. He and his father constructed a wooden replica of the oversized Dr. Pepper with a hole cut into it. He even practiced in adverse conditions to ensure he’d be prepared for the elements in northern California.

Reyes is among other Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway winners, who also competed for $100,000 at other NCAA title games over the weekend. This year, Dr. Pepper awarded $1 million in scholarships as part of its Tuition Giveaway.

“I think fear keeps people from pursuing their dreams and goals,” Reyes said. “They see opportunities but don’t try because they think they won’t succeed. Just recently, I was sitting in my room worried about how I was going to pay for school. Less than a month later, I’m receiving a $100,000 tuition check. Had I been afraid of applying for the Tuition Giveaway, I wouldn’t be in this position.”

Although Reyes is still deciding on his graduate school, he's proud of his time at UHD and honored to represent the institution in this national competition.

“I chose UHD because it was affordable and had small classes,” Reyes said. “My experience here has been amazing and I’ve been fortunate to meet great people who are willing to help you.”

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.