UHV education major wants to help students from low-income families

Yasmina St. Jean

University of Houston-Victoria education major Yasmina St. Jean wants to be a teacher after she graduates so that she can help students from disadvantaged families succeed in school.

“I grew up in a low-income family, and I know how tough that can be,” the Victoria resident said. “I also know from experience just how special it feels when a teacher doesn’t just tell you that you can do it, but believes that you can do it.”

Last school year, St. Jean was one of UHV’s first recipients of a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant. The grants provide up to $4,000 a year for students who agree that after they graduate, they will teach in high-need fields in schools that serve children from low-income families.

To get the grant, teachers must agree to serve for four academic years in a low-income school in one of the specific high-need teaching areas: bilingual education, foreign language, math, reading specialist, science or special education. Students who fail to meet those obligations must pay back the grant as an unsubsidized federal student loan.

In addition to taking classes, St. Jean is a substitute teacher for the Victoria Independent School District.

“I began substitute teaching in 2008, and I really enjoy it,” she said. “It was pretty scary at first because I was afraid of not knowing what to do, but it became easier with time and practice.”

She said the hardest part about substitute teaching is getting a class accustomed to her expectations only to have to start again with a new class.

“The good thing about that is I do get class management experience in a variety of settings, and I also have the opportunity to see and experience many different approaches to teaching,” St. Jean said.

She enjoys working in public schools because she is exposed to many creative ideas.

“I may find those ideas useful when I begin to teach,” St. Jean said. “Substituting, to me, is like a hands-on classroom observation.”

St. Jean is a member of Gamma Beta Phi honors society and is on the Dean’s List. After she graduates, she plans on teaching English as a Second Language classes while working toward a master’s degree in education.

The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact UHV Communications Manager Paula Cobler  or call 361-570-4350.

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.