UHV outstanding education students eager to start careers

Ana Oyarvide always has been dedicated to her school work.

Ana Oyarvide

A native of Mexico, Oyarvide arrived in Texas when she was 2. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. The Houston resident is now a week away from earning a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from the University of Houston-Victoria.

“My mom told me to go as far as I could,” Oyarvide said. “I always wanted to pursue social work. Especially as an immigrant, I see the benefits of having agencies that help people and provide resources. I was exposed to that and started thinking that I wanted to help others in my career.”

Oyarvide was chosen as the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development outstanding graduate student for the fall semester. Julie Yanez of Katy was named 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 fall commencement at 11 a.m. Dec. 12 in the Leonard E. Merrell Center, 6301 S. Stadium Lane in Katy. Live streaming of the ceremony can be seen at

Julie Yanez

Although teaching was not her initial path of study, Yanez, 23, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. She started off with the intention of a career in pharmacy. However, her focus shifted to education after working as a tutor. When Yanez learned she could take UHV’s teacher education program without leaving Katy, she decided it was the right fit.

“I did not want a college environment where I was crowded into a lecture room with hundreds of other students,” she said. “Having small class sizes allowed for more interaction with the professors. I like that I often was able to ask questions during class.”

Yanez finished her student teaching Tuesday at Royal Elementary School in the Royal Independent School District just west of Katy.

“Student teaching was fun and challenging,” she said. “I got a much better feel for what it’s like to be a teacher. The classroom lessons and teacher observations are helpful, but you don’t get the sense of how to be a teacher until you are in there doing the teaching.”

Yanez has job interviews this week at Royal, Fort Bend and Lamar school district. She is hoping to land a job as bilingual educator. She soon will take an exam to become bilingual certified. In the meantime, she started substitute teaching on Wednesday.

Yanez made the UHV President’s or Dean’s lists three times and was inducted into Alpha Zeta Lambda, the UHV chapter of Kappa Delta Pi international education honor society. She said the key to her academic success was using her time wisely. When she first arrived at UHV, she was working two different jobs. She also recently had twin daughters, Nataly and Emely.

“Developing a schedule for studying and sticking with it was critical,” she said.

Oyarvide also balanced work and school. She is an intake coordinator for Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD. In this role, she works with individuals who are court-ordered to receive psychiatric treatment. She gets them into the clinic for outpatient services.

UHV began the 60-credit-hour mental health master’s degree in fall 2014 to satisfy new requirements and give students the opportunity to advance career skills. UHV already offered a 48-credit-hour community counseling master’s degree. Oyarvide was working toward the community counseling degree, but after listening to UHV faculty members explain the benefits of the 60-hour program, she decided to go for it.

“I was a little hesitant about two additional semesters, but I’m grateful I did it,” Oyarvide said. “I think I will be more competitive looking for jobs. I’m more knowledge, educated and trained in counseling and what counselors can do for our clients.”

Oyarvide, 27, already passed the national counselor exam. She is looking for a position as a Licensed Professional Counseling intern. Students need 3,000 hours of work as interns before they become a Licensed Professional Counselor. She eventually would like to work in a hospital setting.

Oyarvide said UHV was a great fit because the environment the school offers is conducive to being able to excel.

Fred Litton

“I appreciate the professors in the counseling program,” Oyarvide said. “I feel like they give so much of themselves. The professors are available, supportive and passionate about what they teach.”

Oyarvide said she tried to gain everything she could from the program.

“I compare mental health preparation to those training in medical professions,” she said. “They have stringent programs. I took that mindset. I wouldn’t want to go to a doctor who did just the bare minimum in school.”

Fred Litton, dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development, applauded the academic records of both outstanding students.

“Ms. Oyarvide and Ms. Yanez have excelled at UHV through their effort and dedication to getting the most out of their higher education,” he said. “I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished and excited to follow their progress as they begin their careers.”

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.

Jeremy Shapiro