Outstanding students ready for new adventure
After 15 years working as a banker, Asfandyar Kazi is looking forward to bringing his newfound knowledge and computer skills back to his home country of Pakistan after he graduates from the University of Houston-Victoria later this month.
“In America, there is a lot of technology used in banks and businesses, but that isn’t the case in Pakistan,” Kazi said. “I want to bring back the things I’ve learned about how to best use technology back home. There are so many ways we can make things more efficient.”
Kazi of Sindh, Pakistan, was named the Fall 2023 Outstanding Graduate Student for the UHV College of Natural & Applied Science. He will receive a Master of Science in computer information systems later this month. Manuel Hurtado of Palacios was named the Outstanding Undergraduate Student and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in biology.
Each semester, professors from UHV’s four colleges select outstanding students to be honored during commencement. The university will host two fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 16 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane in Katy. The first ceremony begins at 9 a.m. to celebrate graduates from the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences and College of Natural & Applied Science. The second ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. to celebrate the graduates from the College of Business and College of Education & Health Professions. A live stream of the ceremonies will be available at www.uhv.edu/commencement/commencement-ceremony.
“Asfandyar and Manuel are two students who have a clear dedication to excellence,” said Dmitri Sobolev, interim dean of the college. “Their efforts have made a positive impact on UHV, both in the student body and in academics. I look forward to seeing how their futures will progress in the coming years.”
When Kazi was searching for a university to get his master’s degree, he had to pursue the process in steps. First, he narrowed the state down to Texas, then he chose to look for universities in the area around Houston, then he looked at the universities in the UH System. Once he started applying and working with UHV international programs, UHV emerged as his top choice.
“The recruiter was so responsive and took the time to explain steps in the process to me as I was applying,” Kazi said. “Combined with the scholarship opportunities for international students, UHV became the clear option.”
At first, Kazi was lonely because he was so far removed from everyone he knew, he said. His original plan was to get his degree as quickly as possible and return to Pakistan. However, that changed once he started getting involved on campus and building relationships with his fellow students.
While he was earning a degree, Kazi spent some time working in UHV Financial Aid, which gave him a positive working atmosphere at the university. He also served as the International Graduate Senator for the UHV Student Government Association. In that role, he helped international students by listening to their concerns and sharing them with the rest of the student body and the university’s administration.
“I was able to be a voice for my fellow international students,” he said. “It was a great experience being able to help others like myself. I even received the Quiet Influencer Award during the Student Life banquet that year.”
Although he was learning every day and plans to continue learning in the future, one thing Kazi was especially glad to learn was how to work on and put together research papers, which he learned in a course led by Yun Wan, a UHV professor of computer information systems.
“Dr. Wan has a brilliant approach to learning,” Kazi said. “He’s known as a tough professor, but I learned so many good things from his classes. After that first class, I took as many with him as I could.”
Hurtado was surprised when he was named the Outstanding Student.
“I’ve worked hard to do well, but I didn’t think I really stood out in any particular way,” he said. “It’s humbling to know that the faculty noticed my hard work and chose to nominate me.”
He transferred to UHV after he first began attending college in San Antonio. He wanted to be closer to home and discovered that he preferred the small and more personal feel of Victoria and UHV. He chose to study biology because he enjoys science subjects and learning how things work. He wants to go to medical school and eventually practice family medicine.
“I want to learn more about preventative medicine and what people can do to stave off illness instead of just treating symptoms when people get sick,” he said. “I want to help people before they reach the point of needing a specialist. That seems like something that’s lacking in today’s medical industry.”
Looking back on his time at UHV, Hurtado is grateful to all of the professors in the university’s biology department for their encouragement and passion for their subjects. He also wants to thank his family for their support as he worked toward his future career.
Kazi also is grateful to the people who helped him on his way to graduation, including UHV’s computer science and computer information systems faculty members, staff members in the financial aid office, his colleagues in SGA and many more. Kazi was so impressed with UHV and how it helped him succeed, that he contributed to the university by creating the Pakistan Grad Student Computer Science Scholarship to help other international students, preferably from Pakistan, get their degrees at UHV.
“UHV is a great university that has had a positive impact on me,” Kazi said. “I recommend people I know to attend UHV whenever I can.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 50 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.