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Mother’s passion ignites UHV professor’s calling

For the past decade, Rachel Martinez has spent time and energy growing along with the University of Houston-Victoria.

Rachel Martinez

It’s a change for the assistant professor of special education, who spent most of her early life in different states across the country.

“I was an Army brat,” Martinez said. “I moved to different places. I was born in Texas, but then I grew up near Washington D.C.”

Most of the moving happened when Martinez was a child, at least six moves that she can remember. But the last one – to Texas – was the one that set her on the path to where she is today.

Her father had been transferred to the state, and because of favorable in-state tuition costs, she started taking classes at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She also took courses at Texas Tech. Like many college students, Martinez was unsure what career path she wanted to make her life’s mission.

“I was one of those college students who was undeclared,” she said. “You get to go in and try all these different fields, but I was at the point when I had to make a decision.”

To decide, she looked to her mother’s passion and recalled how, as a kid, she would sometimes go to her mother’s classroom.

For Martinez, college was meaningful, and now she’s able to make it meaningful for others.

“College is one of the most positive things you can do in your life,” she said. “You get these students, with all these possibilities exposed to them, and it’s really gratifying to see that and be a part of it. Most of the wonderful things that have happened in my life have occurred because I went to college."

After earning her undergraduate degree, Martinez taught in the classroom for several years.

Eventually, she began taking courses at UHV, where she was later asked to teach as an adjunct professor. From there, she just kept growing. She became involved in the UHV Faculty Senate, in which she now serves as secretary. She also is involved on the Community of Readers committee that selects the common reading experience book each year.

Martinez serves as a program coordinator for the School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development, teaches classes for future educational diagnosticians and helped start two new master’s concentrations, one for autism and the other for applied behavioral analysis.

Though she no longer works hands-on with students with special needs, she has worked for 15 years as a diagnostician with the Goliad Special Education Cooperative. There, she helps determine if students are qualified for enrollment in special education services at several Crossroads school districts.

Faculty Feature is an online feature highlighting faculty members from each of the University of Houston-Victoria’s three schools. To nominate a faculty member, contact Jeremy Shapiro, UHV communications manager, or call 361-570-4296.

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.