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Family has played a huge role in the life of Chris Weirich, both in size – he is the oldest of nine children - and in inspiration.  “Growing up I saw how hard my parents worked  to care for us and teach each of us, by example, to be honest, have integrity and display a hard work ethic.  I could see many times where a college degree would have helped them, so I knew how valuable the opportunity was to be the first in my family to pursue higher education.”

But, first things first for this young man.  Counter to his ambitions to play college football, he left Fredericksburg upon graduation from high school to complete a service mission in the Baltic States.  “I was afraid that if I started my college career right away, I may not take the time to help people with so much less opportunity than what awaited me.”  For two years, he learned Russian, provided ministry and looked for ways to serve.  “I was anxious to come home when my mission was complete, but it was so hard to leave behind the amazing people with whom I had built these relationships.”

He enrolled in Brigham Young University and served on the school’s track team.  That is when he met a young woman, also a BYU athlete, who could run the 100 even faster than him!  First he made it a goal to outrun her…then he married her.

He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Recreational Management and Youth Leadership with a minor in business and the couple moved to his hometown of Fredericksburg.  He landed a job with the Fredericksburg Independent School District and started his teaching and coaching career.

It was Chris’ wife that told him about the Masters program at Hill Country University Center.  “We thought and talked about it a lot and decided there was no use in delay.”  He enrolled in the Masters program offered through Texas Tech University and anticipates graduation in May of 2011.

“I chose to Hill Country University Center because it is local and because of the price for the value of what I am getting.  It also allows me to still work and spend time with my wife and two young daughters.  It allows me an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to give back that knowledge to the community.”

Following completion of his Masters program, his wife plans to enroll to pursue a career in nursing.

When Renea Grobe, a wife and mother of four, started her career in teaching as a teacher’s assistant in a Headstart program, she did not imagine that she would ever hold a Master’s Degree in Education.  Renea went back to school to become a credentialed teacher’s assistant, which allowed her to obtain a job with the Fredericksburg Independent School District.  She was placed as a special education assistant and knew she had found her passion. “I fell in love with those kids and knew I wanted more.  I wanted to become a special education teacher!

Through a combination of classroom, online and distance learning courses, I was able to perform all the requirements of my education right here in Fredericksburg.  This allowed me to take care of my daughters and husband and keep family as a priority.”

Renea completed her entry level courses through Austin Community College, and then finished her Bachelor of General Studies degree through Texas Tech University.  In the fall of 2010, she will complete her Masters of Curriculum Instruction degree through Angelo State University.

“While working and studying, we learned that my husband had cancer.  He later suffered nerve damage during knee surgery and has become disabled.  This made it all the more important to get my education, but I could not have done it without having the capability to do so locally.”

First Hill Country Student to Earn Bachelor Degree
Amanda Page Camp is putting her senior thesis to work on her family ranch with black buck antelope, whitetail and Rio Grande turkeys. Amanda earned a general studies degree with a focus on wildlife management planning for land tax exemption. Now she is living in the Hill Country and sharing her knowledge with other area ranchers.
"If it wasn't for Texas Tech coming to the Hill Country, I could have never graduated. This has been tremendous. I was able to move back to the area where I wanted to live and still complete my degree."
Amanda Page Camp '04
First student to earn a Bachelor of General Studies Degree
Specializing in wildlife management for land tax exemption

First Fredericksburg Resident to Graduate in Local Program
At age 44, Doug Gray wasn't sure he could go back to school, study long hours and meet pressing deadlines. He is glad he took up the challenge. Although he says it was difficult juggling full time work and school, he earned his master's degree in educational leadership from HCUC - and at the same time stayed in Fredericksburg with his wife and children.
"What an opportunity to have this in my back yard! This experience has better equipped me for my job here at Heritage School. My wife and I are already thinking about HCUC for our middle school son. He could stay right here and get his full college education."
"I am so appreciative I think about going through a master's program in a little Hill Country town and for that program to mesh so well with my life and my family I am amazed."
Doug Gray '04
Assistant Headmaster, Heritage School
First Fredericksburg resident to graduate from HCUC
Master of Educational Leadership

Local Student Earns Nursing Degree in One Year
Misty Criswell knew she wanted to become a nurse after her daughter was born 10 weeks too early. "I was amazed at how much a nurse could change your life and help you," she says. After graduating from Texas Tech in animal science, Misty and her husband moved back to the Hill Country and opened a business. When their daughter was born, Misty enrolled in HCUC's one-year bachelor of science in nursing degree program. She took courses and completed her clinical sessions at the hospital, working alongside a nurse who served as her coach and teacher.
"This program was great for a person like me in a rural area. I completed my classes online, did my studying at night and go into town for clinical sessions I could take care of my family and I did not have to commute to a city."
Misty Criswell, RN, BSN '06
Nurse, Hill Country Memorial Hospital