UHV faculty member honored for advocacy work
Katherine Bacon’s passion for advocacy grew from surviving difficult circumstances and moving forward despite overwhelming challenges, and now she has been recognized with a statewide award.
Bacon, a University of Houston-Victoria assistant professor of counselor education, recently was awarded the Molly Gerald Human Rights Award by the Texas Counseling Association for her work advocating for children in foster care. She also was recognized for creating the Parris Foundation, which serves the needs of crime victims and was named for her son, who was murdered. She was presented with a glass trophy on Nov. 16 at an awards ceremony during the 61st TCA Annual Professional Growth Conference in Galveston.
“Receiving this award was extremely humbling,” Bacon said. “I had a hard time writing an acceptance speech because I didn’t do any of this for recognition. I’ve been committed to advocating for those who do not have a voice, and I’m grateful that my efforts were recognized by my peers.”
The award is presented to individuals in recognition of their contributions in one or more areas of human rights. It is named in honor of Molly Gerald, an innovator and counselor for the gifted and talented program in Northeast Independent School District in San Antonio. Award recipients are chosen based on membership in the association as well as a continual commitment to causing positive change through advocacy.
Bacon’s focus on helping children in foster care came from her own experiences in the foster care system. After aging out of the system and as she worked her way through college to eventually become a counselor and professor, Bacon came back to the foster care system to facilitate and create programs to better train departments and foster parents on how to help children in the system.
“The more I learned, the more I was able to pinpoint the various causes of inequalities and injustices in our world,” Bacon said. “I’m committed to helping people who are disenfranchised or unable to speak up and be heard. It’s so important to advocate for access to what is deserved and needed to survive and succeed.”
In the same way that living through foster care inspired her to advocate for children in the system, the loss of her son pushed Bacon to address another injustice in society.
“Through my healing process, I saw that this very personal loss became an opportunity to help more people,” she said. “Advocating against injustice has become an intrinsic motivation for me. Some of my own experiences have been horrible, unjust and painful, but as life moves forward, I have become aware of so many options available to people who have faced those same circumstances.”
Bacon shares that passion with her students. As part of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development counseling programs’ accreditation through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs, every class includes some tie to advocacy.
“Dr. Bacon is a productive and accomplished member of the faculty who has a passion for making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable,” said Fred Litton, dean of the school. “Her research into foster care training programs and other causes is outstanding, and UHV is fortunate to have her as part of its faculty. I am glad to see her years of work receive such distinguished recognition.”
Receiving the award has inspired Bacon and has put her in a reflective mood, she said. As she looks back at her own work, she also sees the results of all those people along the way who encouraged her to speak and act.
“I couldn’t do what I do or have the courage to act if other people didn’t have the courage to believe in me,” she said. “They showed me how to use my voice and encouraged me to believe in what I have to say so others could hear it. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to receive this award.”
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.