Megan Hernandez’s journey toward earning her Master of Education in special education at the University of Houston-Victoria started as an overwhelming experience.
“There were just so many things happening at once,” said Hernandez, a resident of San Diego, Calif. “My husband was deployed with the Navy, I had a 3-year-old daughter, and our son arrived in the middle of my first semester.”
Despite the hardship, Hernandez persevered. She recently was named the spring outstanding graduate student for the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. David Leason of Victoria is the school’s outstanding undergraduate student.
Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold two spring graduation ceremonies on Saturday 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.
“Megan and David each faced unique challenges during their time at UHV, and they pushed through,” said Fred Litton, dean of the school. “Their dedication and hard work exemplify the qualities we value at UHV, and I congratulate them both on reaching this milestone.”
Leason said his Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies in early childhood education is the next step in a line of different career experiences. Before attending UHV, he worked for Bugmobiles. He’s also worked as a guard in a juvenile detention facility. Now, he is a physical education teacher at Shields Elementary School in Victoria.
“I thought about teaching before, but I ended up coming to Victoria to work for Bugmobiles,” Leason said. “When my foot was injured, my insurance tried to send me back to work while I was still recovering, so I decided it was time for a different direction, and teaching was the way to go.”
At first, Leason was worried that he would stand out as an older student among recent high school graduates, but he ended up feeling at home at UHV. Throughout the program, he and his fellow students ended up teaching each other a lot, he said.
While he earned his degree, he also was supporting his sons, who are 13 and 14 years old. At times, the boys would tease him for having homework when they didn’t. Leason hopes seeing him earn his degree and an outstanding student award is a good example for them.
“It’s a big honor,” Leason said. “I’m more surprised to receive it than anything else, and that makes it a humbling experience. Now I have my dream job, and one day maybe I’ll move up into an administrative position.”
For Hernandez, UHV’s online special education program was a blessing. Her family moved to San Diego in 2015 when her husband was stationed there, so she has never been able to visit campus.
“I was pretty shocked to receive this award,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the online program. It allowed me to raise my kids and support my husband’s career while still preparing for my own future career.”
Hernandez hasn’t applied for a job yet because her husband will be restationed in the next year, and she wants to know where they are moving before obtaining her certification and searching for a job. She hopes to work for an elementary school, and she is confident that UHV prepared her to teach special education anywhere they go.
“The program was excellent,” she said. “The professors always required that we worked hard, but they were supportive and available if I needed help. I’m excited to see what is next.”