From a mom of 3 to people in their 70s, TSU welcomes variety of learners in 1st of its kind program

Texas Southern University's College of Transdisciplinary Studies will have more students this fall, including those in their 70s.

Brittaney Wilmore Image
Tuesday, August 15, 2023
From a mom of 3 to people in their 70s, TSU welcomes variety of learners in 1st of its kind program
Texas Southern University recently launched its College of Transdisciplinary Studies program, giving people a chance to finish their degrees.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Southern University is home to a one-of-a-kind program in the state that helps anyone who had to pause pursuing their college degree have a chance to get to the finish line.

Mom of three Crystal Parish is proof that with perseverance, you can pick up where you left off.

Parish graduated with her bachelor's degree in May from TSU after taking a break when she was 30 to focus on being a mom. She had already been a student at the university, but wanted to finish her degree, not for herself, but as an example for her 8- and 6-year-old daughters, and now her newborn.

"As a mom, if not for me, I wanted to make sure this was done for my children. I needed to complete my degree," Parish said. "I had to go back to school and finish."

That's where the university's new College of Transdisciplinary Studies came in, receiving approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

With that, TSU launched the state's first College of Transdisciplinary Studies, offering eight bachelor's and four master's degrees spanning multiple areas, from energy and IT to business, the arts and educational leadership.

Most students take classes online, though in-person classes are still an option.

You don't already have to be a TSU student, but you do need to transfer with a minimum of 60 credits from an accredited institution.

The goal? To not only create a fast track for professionals of all ages, but to meet the rising demand for a skilled workforce in Houston and throughout Texas.

"The National Clearinghouse put out numbers and statistics, and 40 million people in the country have some college, no degree. Within Texas, that's about five million. And then within that, about 25% of those fall within our greater Houston area, and so what we looked at was this is an opportunity to help to fill a need that's out there," said Dr. Aisha Morris Moultry, interim dean in the College of Transdisciplinary Studies.

To earn a degree, 120 credit hours are required.

The first cohort of seven students started in the spring.

Two of them, including Parish, graduated in May. As Moultry explains, everyone enters the program at different points because it depends on what each individual needs. So when a student graduates will be dependent upon them.

"I'm happy to share this program is for anyone who wants to attain that degree," Moultry said. "No one should think I'm too old. We have coming in this fall... we have people who are 70 years old. And it's one of those things where they said, 'This is something that I always wanted. And here's an opportunity. And this is something that I want to achieve,' and we have a pathway for them."

For Parish, that meant she could finish her health and human sciences degree and continue her journey in the health care field, which she's worked in since she was 19.

She plans to use her degree to build her career as a home health care consultant.

Parish entered the program just needing 13 credit hours to finish, but she had some extra motivation to get the coursework done in one semester.

"I walked across the stage seven months pregnant. Almost I was forced to do it. Just do it. Get it done! That was my driving force," she recalled.

Parish welcomed her third baby, son Kairo, in July.

"Don't wait. Don't hesitate. If that's something you're interested in to just go and check out the program, see what it's all about. If it's the right fit for you, and it's never too late," Parish shared.

For the upcoming fall semester, TSU was able to offer $2,000 scholarships, which helps cover about six credit hours and is looking to help more students with costs in the spring as Moultry said the university realizes that finances can still be a barrier for adults looking to return to school. TSU is still accepting applications for Spring 2024.

Costs follow the same tuition and fee schedule as the rest of the university.

"I think the biggest thing is that this is just really an opportunity for them to be engaged in something that could transform their lives," Moultry said. "We do know people with college degrees, that increases their earning potential. And so this is an opportunity for us to be a part of that with them, to help them move themselves forward."

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