UHV student becomes school counselor while working on master's degree

University of Houston-Victoria graduate student and Moulton Independent School District counselor Tara Downs knows the meaning of being in the right place at the right time.

Tara Downs
Tara Downs

She graduated from UHV in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in education and soon was teaching first grade in the Moulton school district. But her real interest was in counseling, so she returned to UHV and entered the master’s program.

“In counseling, I knew I’d be able to reach more students than I could in the classroom,” Downs said. “And I knew the program at UHV was really impressive. The professors are wonderful, and I enjoy going to class every week because I always get something out of it.”

The program would lead Downs, who lives in Hallettsville, to an entirely new career even before she graduated.

“The Moulton ISD counselor was retiring, and when the superintendant saw that I was in the UHV counseling program, well, I pretty much just walked right into it,” she said. “Everything’s fallen into place for me before I even graduate.”

Downs said she’s so content being the counselor for Moulton ISD that she has no plans to leave once she graduates in the spring of 2011.

“I’m pretty happy where I’m at,” she said. “I’m learning a lot very quickly because of the size of the district. In a small district, you have a lot more responsibilities. That was something I wasn’t expecting – to wear so many hats.”

Downs also said she was surprised how much her first year as the Moulton ISD counselor showed her what she didn’t know.

“I’ve studied and learned about counseling,” she said. “But actually using what you’ve learned is completely different. It’s been challenging just trying to learn everything I need, so I feel like I’m doing the best job I can.”

Downs also is a member of the Texas Counseling Association and the American Schools Counseling Association.

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.