For any college student, classroom time is a given. From lab work, to lectures and the occasional study hall, it’s all part of the educational experience.
Once a week, however, University of Houston-Victoria senior Kori Kocian finds herself in a different type of classroom altogether: the elementary-school variety.
The biology major, along with the rest of her Jaguars softball teammates, takes part in HOSTS, a mentoring program geared toward helping Victoria students succeed.
“Every time I get there, it just brings a smile to my face,” she said, noting she meets with her student for 30 minutes a week. “My little kid makes my day so much better.”
That work with children also will pay off down the road since the 22-year-old hopes to eventually become a pediatric nurse.
Kocian’s dream to enter the medical field began early on. Her mother is a nurse, and Kocian grew up watching her help others feel better.
Another inspiration came in 2004, when Kocian was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. That time in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices showed her the impact a nurse can have.
“It made me want to go in there and help people if I could make their lives a little easier,” she said.
That, combined with her short stature, led her to pediatrics.
“I’m not sure I could work with older people because I’m too small,” she said with a laugh. “But I think I can handle kids.”
Away from her studies, Kocian keeps busy visiting with friends, reading when possible and out on the softball diamond, where she plays right field.
In an odd twist of events, she’s also landed a second mentoring role with teammate and aspiring nurse Alicia Fikac.
Fikac was more recently diagnosed with Graves’ disease, and Kocian said she makes sure her friend knows she’s there if she needs her.
“It’s been eight years since I’ve had it, and I’m perfectly fine now,” she said of the disease, which affects the thyroid. “But I think it’s good for her to have someone around who’s been through the same thing and conquered it.”
The UHV Outstanding Student is an online feature highlighting the exceptional students who attend the University of Houston-Victoria. To nominate a student, contact Paula Cobler, UHV interim director of marketing and communications, or call 361-570-4350.