Outstanding Arts & Sciences students prepare for exciting careers
Jazmine Matthews, a University of Houston-Victoria forensic psychology graduate student, comes face-to-face with vulnerable people every day on the frontlines of the homelessness crisis.
“There are a lot of stereotypes of homeless people, but when you talk to someone as a person, as a human, and not what they’re labeled as, you really get to know what's going on, and for some of them, it wasn’t their choice to be homeless,” she said.
Matthews of Kansas City, Missouri, was named the UHV School of Arts & Sciences’ Fall 2021 Outstanding Graduate Student. Daniel Perez of Goliad was chosen as the school’s Fall 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Student. In December, Matthews will graduate with a Master of Arts in forensic psychology, and Perez will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in history.
“Jazmine and Daniel are two excellent examples of the quality of students we have at UHV,” said Kyoko Amano, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “They came to UHV to pursue their passions and earn their degrees, and they are graduating as knowledgeable, capable individuals who will be able to succeed in their careers.”
Each semester, faculty members from UHV’s three academic schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold three fall graduation ceremonies on Dec. 11 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane. The ceremony for graduates of the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development will be at 10 a.m., followed by the School of Arts & Sciences at 1 p.m. and the School of Business Administration at 4 p.m. A live-streaming broadcast of the ceremonies will be available at www.uhv.edu/graduation.
Matthews’ work as a street outreach case manager for a nonprofit in Dallas called Promise House grew out of a student internship she did with the organization in the second year of her forensic psychology graduate program at UHV. The experiences as an intern and then full-time employee have opened her eyes to the vulnerable children and youth living on the street and her passion for helping them.
“There is a lot we can offer that population, especially some of the youth,” she said. “They’re 18 to 21 and got kicked out of their house or they’re just homeless. That’s a really vulnerable time. To have someone there to guide them through that process and help them reach their goals is important.”
Matthews plans to pursue doctoral programs and obtain her professional license before becoming a forensic psychologist to work with children and youth exposed to trauma. Matthews said she chose the forensic psychology program at UHV because it aligned with her career goals and offers great hands-on experience.
Perez also appreciated what he gleaned from his studies at UHV. Recognized by his professors as having solid research skills and strong papers, Perez is considering different research-related career opportunities.
“Since I was a young kid, I’ve always enjoyed history and learning about where we came from, and why and how, and the bigger question of how humanity ended up here,” Perez said. “So through these history classes at UHV, I’ve learned quite a bit of information about humanity as a whole.”
The transition from college to work should be easy for Perez, who worked his way through college. During his first few years, he even held down a full-time job at a furniture store, where he still works part time. He chose UHV partly because of its location in Victoria, so he could continue working to stay in school.
Matthews also appreciated UHV’s location in Victoria as well as the university’s small, intimate campus atmosphere.
“It felt like a home away from home for me because I had recently moved from Missouri,” Matthews said. “I didn’t know anybody, and I was nervous. And when I got to the campus, everyone was so friendly. I liked how welcoming it was.”
Perez credits the helpfulness of his professors for getting him through some early difficulties and paving the way for his educational success. Getting more one-on-one attention from his professors thanks to the small class sizes also was key, he said.
“My first semester at UHV, I wasn't sure if it would work, but people helped me get through that first semester,” he said. “One professor, for example, was Dr. Laura Mammina. She helped me quite a bit. And then my second semester at UHV, my professor, Dr. Esther Cuenca, helped me significantly to get through it and to decide that I needed to stay in and get this degree.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs 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, Texas, 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.
Staci Semrad, Special to UHV