UHV graduates recieve outstanding student awards

May 12, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.

After two decades in the same profession, Lisa Hand and Chris Henk were ready to try something different.

Although it had been a while since they attended school, both decided to enroll in the University of Houston-Victoria School of Education & Human Development. They each received outstanding student awards.

Hand and Henk graduated Saturday and soon will start their careers in counseling and teaching, respectively.

For their academic achievements, Sugar Land resident Hand was chosen as the school's outstanding graduate student, and Henk, a Hallettsville resident, was named the outstanding undergraduate student.

Each semester, professors from the four UHV schools select an outstanding student from both their graduate and undergraduate programs to be honored during commencement.

Hand said the award is a nice way to cap her educational experience.

"It was a pleasant surprise," she said. "It's a great honor. I appreciate being nominated and chosen by the faculty. I think it sets a good example for my kids. Two of them are already in college, and two will be going to college soon."

Though her past education and work experience was in commercial real estate financing, Hand spent the last two-and-a-half years working toward a Master of Education in counseling.

"I never really considered counseling while working in real estate," she said. "I left my job to home school my kids. Afterward, I wanted to go back to work, but I didn't feel the same excitement about that field.

After graduation, Hand will take a counseling internship licensing exam. The next step will be performing 3,000 hours of work during a supervised internship.

When she's not studying or spending time with her family, Hand enjoys interior design.

Similar to Hand, Henk decided the timing was right for a career change. He had worked for 20 years at Schulenburg Sheet Metal in Schulenburg. Since his wife started out as a teacher and now is the district technology director for the Hallettsville school district, Henk already had an idea of what working in schools was like.

He decided to pursue a bachelor's degree in early childhood through sixth-grade education because he wanted to work with young children.

"As teachers, we should never forget that even the smallest minds can give you the greatest insight into the world," he said. "We learn more than we ever teach because teaching is a product of learning."

Henk was a student teacher at a pre-kindergarten program in Hallettsville. He loved working with the children, but it was a humbling experience.

"There are highs and lows, and you just have to learn how to weave through it," he said.

After graduation, Henk will search for a pre-kindergarten or elementary school job. He also may have some more time for another passion - alternative energy.

"I play with solar power and solar fans," he said. "But most of my off time is spent with the grandkids."



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