New PRAB members want to give back to community, education
A school district executive and a banking center president are two of the newest members of the University of Houston-Victoria President’s Regional Advisory Board.
Lee Crews, chief operations officer for Katy Independent School District, and Lola Castro, Prosperity Bank’s Beeville Banking Center president, recently joined the board. They are serving three-year terms, and the board approved their appointments at its Sept. 26 meeting.
“Lee and Lola bring to the board a litany of networking skills and passion to serve others,” UHV President Vic Morgan said. “I am looking forward to working with them and hearing their perspectives on the university’s direction as we move forward.”
PRAB is UHV’s external advisory board. Its mission is to strengthen and advance UHV and its academic programs, provide counsel on strategic directions and encourage external giving to the university. Board members also play an important role as UHV ambassadors to their communities and the region. There are 19 voting members on the 2017-2018 advisory board.
Crews is a UHV alumnus who in 1999 received his Master of Education in administration and supervision. Before that, he started his teaching career as a coach and teacher in Refugio. After moving to Sugar Land, he decided to get his master’s degree and move into administration.
“I’m always looking for a new challenge,” Crews said. “Becoming a principal was a good next step. I wanted to take on a role that would allow me to support teachers from the administrative level.”
Crews began his administrative career in 2003 as the principal of First Colony Middle School in Fort Bend Independent School District. For the next 12 years, he was the principal of five subsequent schools, including Quail Valley Middle School, Clements High School, Willowridge High School and Morton Ranch High School.
In 2015, he had the opportunity to expand his support for teachers even further by moving into the role of Area 3 assistant superintendent for instructional and administrative support in the Katy school district. He moved into his current position in February.
Crews thinks his background in education will give him a strong, insider’s perspective about UHV’s focus on providing an excellent higher education. In addition, he has connections in the Katy community that could benefit the university.
“I’ve had a varied career, and that gives me a good baseline from which to draw,” he said. “The board serves as a conduit of information between the community and UHV, and I look forward to contributing my best to help promote higher education in the Katy area.”
Castro was born and raised in Goliad as the youngest of six children in a poor family. She attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville, now Texas A&M Kingsville, on a volleyball scholarship. While there, she met her husband, Gilbert, who is a career chemical engineer and attorney.
Castro has worked in the banking industry for 22 years. She started as a teller and moved up through the ranks to teller supervisor, assistant banking center manager and then banking center manager. After that, she stepped into the lending and wealth management side of banking. During her career, she has worked for several banks, including Chase Bank, Frost Bank and First Victoria National Bank.
During the mid-1990s, she and her husband moved to Australia for two-and-a-half years, and Castro began working with the U.S. Consulate in Melbourne as an EducationUSA volunteer advisor. In that position, she helped students interested in attending a U.S. college get information and apply for scholarships and grants. When she and her husband returned to Australia in 2011 and again in 2014, she volunteered in the same role with U.S. Consulate General Perth. Castro eventually was appointed to work for the U.S. Consulate Perth as a casual administrative assistant before returning home to Texas.
“I really wanted to give of my time to promote higher education in the U.S. and help these students get the education they wanted,” Castro said. “Education is a global need, and my work helped Australian students take that next step and get into a U.S. college.”
Castro is looking forward to serving as a liaison between UHV and the Coastal Bend communities it serves. In addition to her passion for higher education, she prides herself on being a Hispanic woman who was able to get an education and move up from poor beginnings to find success.
“I’m a big advocate for women in higher education,” she said. “There are so many opportunities in education even if students choose to get an associate or learn a trade rather than get a four-year degree. Education is the key to reaching that success.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations 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 a teaching center in Katy, 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 popular, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.