Destination UE

How to be a Non-Traditional Student at UE

“Being here at UE has pushed me farther than I ever imagined, and I always come out on top. I have grown as a student, as a family man, and as a future employee. I’ve been behind the eight ball for as long as I can remember, but being here, the opportunities that I’ve received have made every hardship, every struggle worth it. I owe so much to UE.”

Tommy Housman

Majors: Visual Communication and Graphic Design

An Affordable, High Quality Education

Tommy is a non-traditional student at University of Evansville. In high school, he had a master plan to attend UE, earn a degree, find a job, get married, and raise a family. Of course, things don’t always happen according to plan. After 25 years of overcoming medical and family challenges, Tommy made the decision to go back to school. He earned two associate’s degrees and two technical certificates from Ivy Tech Community College.

Based on his excellent academics, driven work ethic, and clear desire to continue his education, his advisor recommended he apply to some larger universities in the tri-state area. “My family is here in Evansville, and when I received my acceptance letter from UE, my choice was made. UE offered me a quality education combined with a great financial aid packet, so I know UE was the best decision for me.”

Building Confidence

For Tommy, the faculty and staff are everything. They have made him feel at ease and at home in his classes. They are there for him every step of the way. He explains, “The generation gap that I have with the students in my classes is overcome by the amazing professors who engage and work with me. It has been a different but very positive transition for me coming from a community college to a private university.”

At first, Tommy felt nervous that he would not be able to live up to the expectations of a private university; however, he has willingly accepted the challenges in academia and student life. He says, “There are so many things to be involved in here at UE that it almost feels overwhelming. I believe that it’s very important to not to pass up any of the opportunities we have here on campus. Everyone is so supportive that I know I can take on and complete anything I set my mind to do.”

Finding a Career Path

Tommy really appreciates the extent of assistance and support faculty, staff, and administrators provide to him. Gene Wells, director of the Center for Career and Development, has been very involved in Tommy’s career search every step of the way. Tommy feels that Gene and his team go above and beyond which truly provides him with a sense of security. The fact that he will have a support system long after he graduates both empowers and humbles him. He comments, “Everyone has been willing to go an extra step. As a non-traditional student, I can see that they understand my responsibilities to my family, to my work, and to my schooling. They have gone the extra mile to make sure I can accomplish my goals.”

Experience that Puts You Ahead of the Rest

Recently, Tommy has been heavily involved in an internship related to graphic design. Working in collaboration with the Institute for Global Enterprise as well as with Leadership Evansville, Tommy developed an animation road diet for the City of Evansville. Tommy’s work was presented to city leaders from organizations such as Metropolitan Planning Organization, SEAC, Water and Sewage Utility, Regional City of Evansville, Evansville Area Trails Coalition, and Leadership Evansville as well as at the Evansville Mayor’s Travelling Town Hall meeting and at other events. Tommy has also completed graphic design work to be used as promotional materials for the University of Evansville. “These internships have allowed me to network and have exposed me to opportunities I wouldn’t have seen until five or more years down the road.”

Believe in Yourself, Get Involved

Tommy’s advice for students is: “You can do it. It won’t be easy. It’s not easy for me, but I’m driven to succeed. I want to make a life for myself and my family. The support system here at UE will help you every step of the way. You have to do the work you’re given. You need to go above and beyond the limits you set for yourself. Step out of your comfort zone. Take risks, join a ChangeLab project, and apply for an internship. Be active in following your passions. Believe in yourself because you can do it!”

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