UHV school psychologist faculty, students win award, scholarships
For Serife Turan, receiving a scholarship that included membership into the Texas Association of School Psychologists meant access to a plethora of networking and educational opportunities.
Turan, along with Fatima Sanchez of El Campo, both University of Houston-Victoria school psychology graduate students, received Diversity Scholarships during the annual Texas Association of School Psychologists Convention in November. Elise Hendricker, a UHV associate professor of school psychology and director of the UHV School Psychology program, received the Board Member of the Year Award at the convention as well.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. Hendricker, Serife and Fatima and the recognition they have each received,” said Kyoko Amano, dean of the UHV College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences. “Serife and Fatima represent what it means to be a Jaguar, and Dr. Hendricker is an outstanding faculty member who goes above and beyond for her students. We congratulate all of them on this well-earned recognition at this conference.”
The Texas Association of School Psychologists convention is held annually in the fall. This year, the three-day convention took place in Sugar Land, which made the convention much more accessible for students to attend, Hendricker said. Each year, the school psychology program pays for two students to attend the convention as the event is important for their professional development. With the convention being hosted locally this year, the school psychology faculty encouraged more students to attend. The program hosted a networking luncheon, and about 20 UHV alumni and students attended.
The Diversity Scholarship fund is a new initiative that the association began this year, Hendricker said. A social justice committee within the organization organized fundraisers for the scholarships for students and members who are from underrepresented backgrounds. The scholarship includes membership into the association for two years and entry into the annual convention, and both students received a framed certificate.
“Culturally and linguistically, it is important that there are school psychologists that match all student populations,” Hendricker said. “It is amazing that the first two recipients of this scholarship initiative are from UHV, and this is a great opportunity for both students to have more engagement with the association and others in our field.”
Turan, who lives in Katy and is originally from Turkey, was ecstatic to have the opportunity to attend the convention, meet colleagues and listen to speakers discuss important current topics, including ethics in school psychology. As someone who was raised in another country and with English as her second language, having a Diversity Scholarship awarded to her made her feel that her heritage was acknowledged and made her feel more at home.
“It is a nice feeling to receive a scholarship that encourages and celebrates diversity,” Turan said. “It was a great experience to listen to so many great open minds in this field and meet so many people. We all had a great time together, and I am grateful to receive this scholarship and opportunity.”
For Sanchez, it was a pleasant surprise to find out she was a recipient of the scholarship as well. She applied close to the deadline, which was right before the conference. During the conference, she also enjoyed attending sessions and learning from speakers, including one discussion about marginalized youth. She also enjoyed meeting and speaking with school psychologists and learning more about what to expect when she graduates.
“This semester, I was trying to be more involved. I was feeling scared and timid, so this scholarship means a lot to me,” Sanchez said. “This scholarship motivates me to expand more into the field and do what I need to do.”
Hendricker also was surprised to be named Board Member of the Year. Although she has been a member of the association and has participated in the annual conference for many years, she wanted to become more involved. She joined the TASP board at the beginning of the year to chair the Shortage and Workforce Committee, a new initiative by the association. The association has a mission to promote the field of school psychology, as there is a shortage of school psychologists statewide and nationwide, Hendricker said. Since Hendricker had done some previous research and work in that area, she was invited to join the board in that capacity.
While there was a big learning curve for her during her first year on the board and in the organization, Hendricker has enjoyed learning more about TASP and being a member on the board. There are several initiatives related to the shortage that the association is working on to promote and support school psychologists, including surveys to understand issues school psychologists are facing in the field and advocating for ways that graduate training can be enhanced to increase the number of future school psychologists. For her award, Hendricker received a plaque.
“Getting this award was great and unexpected,” Hendricker said. “I think what we are doing with addressing the shortages in the workforce and it being a priority with the organization is really important for our field, and I am happy to be a part of it.”
Additionally, two UHV students in the graduate school psychology program also presented at the conference. Lydia Abbott and Olivia Izulu, who are both doing internships at Spring Independent School District in Houston and in the last year of the program, spoke during a session for graduate students. The two were part of a panel discussion about the internship experience.
“We are so proud of the different ways UHV was represented at the conference this year,” Hendricker said.
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 50 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.