08:51 AM

With H.E.A.R.T @ UHD

New Students, New Semester


By Sheryl E. Taylor

Barely a year ago in 2018, UHD and the Housing, Entrepreneurship And Readiness Training (H.E.A.R.T) program launched a workforce development program to help adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities rejoin the workforce.

“UHD is committed to serving the members of our community through programs designed to address 21st century needs and opportunities,” said Dr. Leigh Van Horn, professor of education, language and literacy, College of Public Service. “The UHD-H.E.A.R.T program serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a continuing education program focused on building career/professional/life skills, internship, and externship experiences.”

This fall, the second cohort of 37 students are now on campus serving as interns for various UHD offices, including the President’s Office, Sports & Fitness, Student Activities, Facilities Management, Office of Student Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and others.

The program also features mentorship opportunities. Students in the UHD-H.E.A.R.T Program are mentored by UHD students from each of the colleges at UHD. Also at the conclusion of the program these students create an e-presentation and resume. “Inherent in our name, the College of Public Service is committed to serving our community by leveraging the resources, time and talent of our institution and its people to serve our partner and the residents of Greater Houston,” said Steven Villano, director of the Center for Public Service & Community Research. “What better way to achieve this than for us to work to create opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities develop their talents and find sustainable work? We all have different abilities, talents and challenges. But, we all can contribute.”

The first cohort—28 adults with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities—graduated with a Continuing Education Certificate from the UHD at a special ceremony this August.

“UHD is providing a life-changing opportunity for these students,” said Jane Borochoff, executive director of the H.E.A.R.T program. “The program not only provides critical education courses, but it also is providing meaningful campus internship opportunities for every single student … this is the true meaning of inclusion. UHD is a leader in making these dreams come true for our students. Everyone at the H.E.A.R.T. program is so proud to see our students working throughout the University. It’s wonderful to see how UHD has embraced our students in all aspects of campus life.”

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.