College Q&A: UHV mentors assist elementary students with reading

By Jeremy Shapiro
Jan. 25, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 24, 2014 at 7:25 p.m.

My daughter has been working on her reading with a University of Houston-Victoria softball player who is mentoring at Hopkins Elementary School. How many UHV students volunteer as part of the mentoring program?

About 30 University of Houston-Victoria students serve as mentors at Hopkins Elementary School through the Victoria Business & Education Coalition and Helping One Student to Succeed program.

Mentors visit Hopkins Elementary weekly to work with students on reading, vocabulary and comprehension skills.

"The second-grader I help is really funny," UHV senior Megan Carter said. "Every time he walks in the door, he has this grin on his face. I know that he likes working with his mentor. It's cool the students enjoy it as much as the mentors do."

The volunteer program began at Hopkins in 2007. Other mentoring labs are located at Victoria East and Victoria West high schools, Mitchell Guidance Center and Patti Welder and Stroman middle schools. There are about 250 total mentors, said Peter McNally, VBEC executive director.

Abigail Gonzalez, a UHV sophomore education major from Houston, is in her second semester volunteering at Hopkins. Gonzalez works with a second-grader who sometimes has difficulties mixing letters and understanding word meanings.

"I try to help her recognize the letters," Gonzalez said. "I tell her to read carefully, and I ask her questions as we go through the reading."

Gonzalez said she's seen improvement in the student's reading since the start of the school year.

"She reads faster, and she understands more words now," Gonzalez said.

Les Garcia, UHV supervisor of transportation services, said several mentors ride the UHV shuttle busses to and from Hopkins Elementary. Gonzalez said riding the shuttle bus is a big help since she lives at a residence hall and doesn't have a vehicle.

Beyond the immediate satisfaction in helping a child improve her reading, Gonzalez said the mentoring program will aid her in future UHV education courses and down the line in her career.

Not all the mentors have plans to teach. Several UHV mentors got involved through volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club of Victoria. The UHV softball team also has stepped up to the plate to serve as mentors.

Carter, a pitcher on the softball team from Woodsboro, has been mentoring since her freshman year at UHV. She said it's important to the team to give back to the community.

"It's something we enjoy, and it makes us feel more well-rounded," she said. "We share stories with teammates about what the elementary students did during our mentoring sessions. It's a lot of fun."

Do you have a question about the University of Houston-Victoria? Contact Jeremy Shapiro, UHV communications specialist, at 361-570-4296 or



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