Outstanding education students ready to make a difference

When Sarah Bitterly Rutherford was considering her future, she wanted to pursue a degree that would help her get a job working with people.

Sarah Rutherford

“I’ve always wanted to work with adults, especially in higher education,” Rutherford said. “I love helping people reach their full potential. I’ve seen first-hand how people can struggle to balance family, full-time work and other issues. But I also know from my own experience that it is possible.”

Rutherford, of Hattiesburg, Miss., recently was named the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development Spring 2018 Outstanding Graduate Student. Diana Ramirez, of Houston, 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 May 12 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

Fred Litton

“Sarah and Diana are inspiring examples of how education can touch the lives of people and make a difference,” said Fred Litton, dean of the school. “I congratulate them on earning this honor and their degrees, and I look forward to seeing how they will impact the world around them and bring positive change through education.”

The Outstanding Student award is especially exciting for Ramirez because she is a first-generation college graduate, she said. She will receive her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with an additional English as a Second Language certificate.

Ramirez chose to attend UHV because of the university’s affordable tuition and its close proximity to her home. As she finishes her student teaching, Ramirez says she feels ready to pursue a career in education.

Diana Ramirez

“UHV has definitely prepared me for my future job,” she said. “The professors plan an extensive range of activities and give us more than enough experience in the field. Before attending UHV, I was intimidated by the profession I chose. But now I am convinced that I have gained the proper experience and knowledge that gives me the confidence to take on this enriching career.”

The award also was a surprising and exciting experience for Rutherford. As she pursued her Master of Education in adult and higher education, she and her family experienced many struggles, including the birth of her first child and Rutherford being diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.

“Getting this degree and now earning this honor has been such an incredible, freeing experience,” Rutherford said. “It really showed me what I can accomplish as long as I don’t give up, no matter what life puts in front of me.”

As she prepares for her graduation, Rutherford is grateful for the support she has received from her family, especially her husband and mother, who helped her in many ways, either from giving her extra motivation, offering financial support or just reminding her that she can do anything she wants to do if she works hard enough.

Ramirez also appreciates the support she has received from her family and UHV staff members she befriended in the education school.

“I would like to thank my family for always pushing me to keep moving forward and my friends at the School of Education who were always willing to listen to me vent about late nights and high textbook prices,” Ramirez said. “It has been a long journey and receiving this award shows me that all the hard work and effort my family and I have invested for a successful future has paid off.”

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.