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Volume 72, Issue 17, Wednesday, September 13, 2006

News

For some, UH is a perfect fit

Students say college experience ranks higher than prestige

by KELSIE HAHN
The Daily Cougar

Whether or not UH makes the grade as far as U.S. News and World Report is concerned, many students who attend say it is a perfect, if unexpected, fit.

Biology freshman Clementina Nuñez chose to attend UH over the University of Texas at San Antonio to avoid relocating to another city so soon after evacuating from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Nuñez and her entire family moved to Houston during her senior year of high school. 

She said staying close to her family helped her decide to stay in Houston, and the programs and workshops available at UH also impressed her.


Paul Kim/The Daily Cougar


Senior Tony Perez said coming to UH was a new start for him after an unsatisfying career as an electronic engineer. Studying photography and creative writing allows him to express his artistic side, he said.

"It gives me a lot of opportunities that I probably wouldn't have had in another place, like in New Orleans," Nuñez said. 

Nuñez said she also likes the privacy that a large campus and student population provides. 

"People don't get into each other's privacy," Nuñez said. "That's good. It's too big to know everybody."

Photography/digital media and creative writing senior Tony Perez came to UH to start over after what he called 10 "miserable" years as an electronics engineer.

"(Electronics engineering) wasn't the right career choice for me because it didn't allow me any creative freedom, although it paid extremely well," Perez said.

Perez chose UH because it is rated highly in photography and creative writing.

"Since I've been here, my goals have been to learn the most that I can about writing and photography," Perez said.

When he graduates, Perez's goals include writing a book, selling his photography as art and opening a photo studio that will serve the community by providing jobs and services. 

"I have bigger plans than that," Perez said. "But I'm not telling anybody."

Political science senior Matthew LaBita said most students have more important considerations than where UH is ranked. 

"To some people it does not matter that they are not going to a top-100 school. They may be the first to be going to college in their family," LaBita said. "The fact that they are here and going to college is what matters."

Architecture sophomore Athena Patira and psychology senior Madhubheni Vasudevan both came to UH for financial reasons and now say they are happy with their decision.

"It doesn't bother me that UH is not among the top universities," Vasudevan said. "I don't need to go to a school that claims to have the best of everything. To me, it's always been not where I go, but what I do when I get there. Personal achievement is more important to me."

Vasudevan, a Malaysian international student, said she could not have anticipated UH's inviting teaching style after participating in the Western Michigan University study abroad program in Malaysia for two years.

"The University lived up to my expectations -- a little bit more, actually," she said. "It was very different from the kind of education I was used to back home. This was very new; I was raised (to) memorize everything and regurgitate it for an exam. (UH) is relaxed in a good way -- I learn better in an environment like this."

Patira said one of UH's best resources is the school's diversity, which is not included in U.S. News' evaluations.

"I think other universities have one kind of person. Here, you're exposed to so much," Patira said. "You're not only getting an education, you're learning different cultures."

Patira also said her future would be easier if she went to a higher-ranked college, but what will differentiate her from her professional peers is the integrity she acquired at UH.

"I would love to go to an Ivy League school because I probably would have more opportunities and I wouldn't have to work as hard," Patira said. "But in the end, the harder you work, the more respected you are."

With additional reporting by Mary Hulse, Julie Afonso, Ashlea Majors and Kim Thai

Send comments to dcnews@mail.uh.edu

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