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Outstanding education students hope to inspire future students

Edna resident Heather Socha enjoyed creating her own curriculum during her 18 years of teaching, so the Edna High School English teacher decided to get her master’s degree from UHV to help her take the next step in her career.

Socha recently was named the Spring 2019 Outstanding Graduate Student for the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. Mary Naser from Houston was named the school’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student.

Fred Litton

Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold two spring graduation ceremonies on May 18 at Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts & Sciences and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the School of Business Administration. A live-streaming broadcast of the ceremonies will be available at www.uhv.edu/graduation.

“Heather and Mary are two excellent examples of how UHV is training future educators to make a difference in their communities,” said Fred Litton, dean of the school. “Their passion for learning, teaching and raising up a new generation of perpetual learners is inspiring. I congratulate them on their achievement and look forward to seeing what they will accomplish in the years to come.”

Socha will receive her Master of Education in administration and supervision with a concentration in principalship on May 18. She originally considered getting a degree in curriculum and instruction because she is interested in developing curriculum for English and language arts classes. But after a conversation with her principal, she decided to pursue a different degree program.

Heather Socha

“He told me a degree in administration has the potential to open more doors for me in the future,” Socha said. “Now I feel like I have a better understanding of how the system works and what administrators deal with every day. I think knowing how to achieve that balance between accountability measures and engagement in the classroom will help me in the future.”

A few years ago, Socha received the additional title of instructional coach in addition to her teaching role and started writing curriculum for English classes from ninth to 12th grade. After she graduates, she will begin working with curriculum for junior high and elementary school classes. In her own classroom and the curriculum she creates, Socha encourages students to be independent thinkers.

“I want them to think for themselves,” she said. “They should learn how to take in any relevant information and make their own decisions about what they will believe. I want them to see the world in their own terms.”

Mary Naser

Naser is finishing her student teaching at Hunters Creek Elementary School in the Spring Branch Independent School District. She will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in early childhood to sixth grade on May 18. After graduation, she plans to work as an elementary school teacher.

“I love learning, and when I’m teaching I’m often learning right along with my students,” Naser said. “It’s a wonderful experience to share my knowledge, grow with them and help inspire them to learn.”

In the future, Naser wants to return to UHV to earn her master’s degree after she gains a few years of teaching experience. She also plans to take the test to become certified to teach English as a Second Language students.

“Receiving this award has inspired me to work harder in reaching my goals,” she said. “It’s a reminder to never give up.”

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 an instructional site 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 population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.