At UHD, a whopping 66% of degree-seeking undergraduates began as transfer students. No wonder that the third week of October is especially celebrated at the University: National Transfer Student Week!

Certainly, transitions can be challenging for most people, but National Transfer Student Week provides the platform to highlight the thousands of success stories across the UHD campuses, including this year’s 26 Transfer Merit Scholars.

It’s not easy to qualify as a Transfer Merit Scholar, which requires a minimum of 30 college-level hours earned and a 3.5 or higher GPA. Once accepted, these students must maintain a 3.2 cumulative GPA by the end of each academic year with at least 30 credit hours under their belt each year.

The UHD Transfer Merit Scholarship awards students a two-year full ride scholarship that covers their tuition and fees. Additionally, students participate in programming and activities on and off campus as they connect with one another and build a support community amongst themselves.

Just as no two transfer student experiences are the same, each Transfer Merit Scholar’s journey has its own twists and turns. Take Kaleigh Haverly, Elsy Rodriguez, and Jaxon Raye, for example, each with their own unique story.

Haverly and Rodriguez do share some similarities: Both chose UHD after attending Houston Community College (HCC) in part because trusted friends gave UHD high marks and glowing reviews. In addition to a friend’s recommendation, however, Haverly, who earned an Associate of Science in Psychology at HCC, decided to continue pursuing Psychology at UHD because of its “excellent psychology program.”

“After I graduate, I plan to become a clinical psychologist and hopefully, at some point, operate my own clinical practice,” said Haverly. “I dream to help those in my community who struggle with their mental health to reach goals that they could have never imagined achieving, and I plan to assist them in leading happy, healthy, and productive lives.”

Rodriguez initially started at HCC with the intention of pursuing a nursing career. “I worked at a hospital during the peak of the pandemic, which made me realize that nursing wasn’t the right path for me,” said Rodriguez. “After taking a year off, I made the decision to return to school and switch my major to marketing.” When she began researching business programs in the Houston area, “UHD stood out to me for various reasons, including affordability and smaller classroom sizes.”

She is still determining her post-graduation plans. “One goal is to explore the world as a social media manager for a company that allows me to travel extensively,” said Rodriguez. “Another option is working for a nonprofit organization, where I can contribute to raising awareness. Volunteering has always been a passion of mine.” She also hopes to make a positive impact on other students’ lives by giving back to her alma mater as an alum. “One of my long-term goals is to support fellow students with full-ride scholarships, just as I was fortunate enough to receive during my academic journey.”

Raye got his travels in while attending the Honors College at Lone Star Kingwood, where he competed in the National Model United Nations; studied under the French Embassy in Lyon, France; and created interdisciplinary research centered around the impacts of climate change.

 Currently studying political science, Raye plans on attending law school where he hopes to concentrate on environmental law followed by pursuing a master’s degree. His ultimate end goal is to work for the Environmental Protection Agency in D.C.

“However, along the way, I want to inspire others to be themselves,” said Raye. “To emphasize that hard work can get you anywhere, that nothing is impossible and doing it as your true self is even better!”

That Gator grit and can-do attitude sums up the authentic transfer student experience at UHD.

To see the complete lineup of Transfer Merit Scholars, visit the webpage

Source: By Marie Jacinto, originally posted on

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