Math teachers’ council awards UHV education students scholarships

Barbara Alaniz

University of Houston-Victoria student Barbara Alaniz always has been a fan of numbers and equations, so when she found out she was awarded a scholarship from the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics for her last semester of college, she was ecstatic.

“Growing up, math was my favorite subject,” said Alaniz, a Beeville resident. “I have been trying to avoid student loans, and this scholarship will help me with paying for my education. I am happy and grateful to receive this scholarship.”

UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development students Alaniz and Breezalynn Becker of Littlefield were recipients of the Mathematic Pre-Service Teacher Scholarship from the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics, a professional organization that provides professional development for teachers of mathematics, especially those in the classroom.

Breezalynn Becker

The scholarship was awarded to college students who plan to student teach during the 2020-2021 academic year and pursue teacher certification at the elementary, middle or high school levels with a focus in mathematics. Alaniz and Becker will student teach this fall, and both will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with an early childhood through sixth grade core subjects concentration.

Only eight students in the state were awarded this scholarship, said Barba Patton, a UHV professor of curriculum and instruction with a focus on mathematics. Students must be sponsored by a professor and must complete an extensive application. During the last six years, UHV students have been awarded scholarships from the organization six times. Alaniz and Becker have not yet been told how much they will receive, but scholarship recipients can be awarded up to $1,000. 

Originally, scholarship recipients were going to be presented with their scholarships during a summer conference, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the students will be honored during a 2021 conference.

Barba Patton

“We are a small university, and to have two of our students receive this scholarship from throughout the state is amazing,” Patton said. “Both Barbara and Breezalynn want to teach math and have shown excellent skills as far as teaching and presenting in the classroom. They are both dependable, hard-working students who are student-oriented in their projects and work.”

Since 2016, Alaniz has been a substitute teacher in Beeville Independent School District, and she was a long-term substitute leading up to the pandemic. She is a full-time student and single mother of two boys. She realized she wanted to teach after she worked at a daycare and found how much she enjoyed it.

“Children sometimes underestimate themselves, and I want to help kids who might be struggling,” Alaniz said. “I try to be there for the students I teach, and I want to help inspire children to reach their education goals.”

Becoming a teacher has been a lifelong dream for Becker, a disabled U.S. Air Force veteran. Becker will graduate in December after student teaching. She plans to go back to school and earn a master’s degree and doctorate in education.

As a single mom to three children, getting her undergraduate degree has been a difficult but worthwhile challenge.

“I’m really excited to be a recipient of this scholarship,” Becker said. “It is helpful to have scholarships like this available.”

Becker was scheduled to present at an annual spring math and science conference hosted at UHV but was unable to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference helps current and future mathematics and science teachers learn about the latest teaching techniques and concepts.

Becker wants to help students overcome math anxiety, a real issue that students face, she said.

“Math is a critical school subject and an important life skill,” Becker said. “Math anxiety must be minimized from the beginning. I am a big advocate of learning new ways to teach students the best way they can understand.”

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.

Amber Aldaco