As we near the end of the semester, we are working on new programs, welcoming new
faculty, and creating service opportunities for the future! It’s an exciting time
to be in the College of Public Service. Read on to learn more about these exciting
Internship and Service Learning Opportunities
Paid Summer Internship Opportunity
Educational Programs Inspiring Communities, Inc., a Houston-based 501(c)(3) non-profit
organization, is looking for an intern to work at The H.E.A.R.T. Program this summer.
This 10-week paid internship starts on June 1st and ends on July 30th. The pay rate is $12.00 an hour. The intern will complete at least 37 hours per week
total with the opportunity to earn up to $4,000 for both summer sessions.
The H.E.A.R.T. Program provides innovative education, job training and employment
to individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), who oftentimes
lack the opportunity to experience gainful employment or to develop leadership and
The H.E.A.R.T. Summer Internship Program provides individuals (Session One ages 14-22
and Session Two ages 16-22) an experience of having a summer job through hands-on
training so they can gain job skills. The participating interns will also be introduced
to the TCDD Youth Advocacy Training Curriculum, which teaches leadership development
and self-advocacy. This curriculum covers a range of practical skills, such as decision-making,
effective communication, law/rights, teamwork, and self-monitoring. These topics address
skills that individuals with I/DD need to become more empowered and independent.
We are currently seeking an intern to be a Coordinator in our Summer Internship Program.
Alongside the H.E.A.R.T. staff, the Coordinator will assist with teaching the TCDD
Youth Advocacy Training Curriculum virtually and on-site. The Coordinator will provide
administrative support, such as updating the curriculum files and maintaining participant
timesheets. In addition, the Coordinator will learn and work on hands-on training
activities with the interns. The goal of this internship is to help H.E.A.R.T. interns
with I/DD to successfully complete their summer internship with a concrete resume
so that they can build their work experiences for future job prospects. H.E.A.R.T.
also plans to use the curriculum in years to come as the agency continues the work
of providing job opportunities and educating self-growth and advocacy to many more
individuals with special needs in the future. This is an endeavor that has the full
support of our entire staff and board of directors who are excited and enthusiastic
about this position.
To apply, you must be currently enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student and
be returning to college as a full-time sophomore, Junior, or Senior in the fall 2021
semester. Full-time enrollment is defined as 12 or more credits in one semester.
The internship takes place both virtually and on-site at the Houston Food Bank, where
The H.E.A.R.T. Program’s summer program is based. Please click on the link below for
Intern Requirements and job description. Anyone interested should email a resume to email@example.com.
HEART 2021 Summer Internship Job Descriptionn(PDF)
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is looking
for undergraduates and/or law students to work on humanitarian parole cases for families
who were removed or expelled in 2020. The families with whom interns will work were
all detained and either experienced particularly poor medical conditions and/or had
compelling cases for protection.
They have up to nine total positions available - all remote. This is a great opportunity
for students who want to do direct services work and advocate for individuals harmed. Spanish
or Haitian Creole language fluency required. The application can be accessed via
this link: https://raices.recruiterbox.com/jobs/fk0urit/
Casa Juan Diego
Please join Dr. Dawn McCarty, Director of UHD’s Social Work program, at Casa Juan Diego. This is an organization that exists to serve immigrants, refugees and the poor.
The good folks at Casa Juan Diego are responding to COVID-19 by serving the community
in multiple areas.
They are in need of volunteers that can help to prepare food bags/boxes to give to
community members as they arrive in their COVID-safe environment. Specifically, they
need support on Mondays anytime from 9:00 am to noon and Tuesdays from 7:00 am till
If you are interested please text Dr. Dawn McCarty at 832.514.5463 to start the process.
Whatever time you can provide will allow Casa Juan Diego to serve those most in need
in our community.
Epilepsy Foundation of Texas
The Epilepsy Foundation of Texas (EFT) partners with AmeriCorp and is in need of a
VISTA Summer Associate to assist with programming this summer. Attached are the job
descriptions. The application links can be accessed below.
Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston
Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston (IMGH) is kicking off a new initiative called
“Serve Houston” geared at getting young college-aged leaders involved in social impact
work in the Houston community. Serve Houston is a PAID summer/fall service opportunity
of 20 hours per week beginning May 31st. Serve Houston Ambassadors will be working
with Interfaith Ministries staff to complete projects in Refugee Services, Volunteer
Houston, Meals on Wheels, and Interfaith Relations.
Interested students can apply at imgh.org/servehouston.
Urban Education On the Move: New Programs Highlight Our Award Winning Department
Call Me MISTER
The Urban Education Department is on the move!
This past year has seen the adoption of a new program that will bring hope and encouragement
to up-and-coming educators in our midst as well as the students they will eventually
Call Me MISTER (an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role
Models) has a mission to increase and diversify the pool of educators within the teaching
field, primarily within the city of Houston. It focuses on providing guidance and
opportunities for minority men, particularly African American and Hispanic males.
Originally started at Clemson University in 2000, UHD is the first university in the
entire state of Texas to incorporate the program into its curriculum. Call Me Mister
provides many resources for prospective and current program participants. Such as:
- Tuition assistance through Loan Forgiveness programs for admitted students pursuing
approved programs of study in teacher education at participating colleges
- An academic support system to help assure their success
- A cohort system for social and cultural support
- Assistance with job placement
Along with helping to expand the pool of applicants within the teaching field, UHD’s
primary goal is to support Houston schools with diverse and qualified men to teach
in grades K-12.
Program Coordinator, Call Me MISTER
Kemonta Jackson is originally from Nashville, TN. He came to Houston to pursue an
opportunity with UHD to lead the Call Me Mister program. “Houston is one of the most
diverse cities in the country. It’s a perfect platform to develop and help others.”
When asked what led him to his area of interest, Kemonta responded by saying that
“people in my life have helped me fall in love with putting myself second. I simply
love helping others.”
Kemonta moved to Houston with his girlfriend, Diamond, and their dog Tuscan. Diamond,
who hails from Chicago, works as a nurse at Memorial Hermann Hospital. And, according
to her, Chicago has the best food in the world!
Kemonta attended an HBCU and what he calls, ‘THE REAL TSU’: Tennessee State University,
where he obtained his master's degree after completion of undergraduate course work
at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He was a lettered Football and Basketball athlete at
KWC. He then served as a graduate and teaching assistant with the TSU department
of Human Performance and Sport Science. While in graduate school, Kemonta had the
opportunity to work with his former high school football coach and current professor
at TSU on an article assessing successful high school football coaches. Smith J, Hamido
E, Cochrum R, Dickson P, & Jackson K. “Assessment of High School Football Coaches
in Tennessee.” Sports Med Rehabil J. 2018; 3(3): 1040.
Prior to coming to UHD, Kemonta worked in several different fields: non-profit, corporate
wellness, and public schools, recreation, university/college, and diversity/inclusion.
However, if he had to pick another career it would be as a chef or food critic. “I
can eat! I am a firm believer food will bring this world together one day. It’s the
one thing we all can agree on regardless of race, culture, etc. Food is the key to
Kemonta enjoys working out, playing basketball, coaching football and listening to
podcasts or music. His top three musical artists are Drake, Daft Punk and Bob Marley.
He is a BIG Dragonball Z guy (“It’s the kid in me. I can talk about it all day!”).
He enjoys sports and superhero movies. His favorite is “Friday Night Lights.”
As for his bucket list, he wants to live long enough to dunk a basketball again. "Hopefully,
there will be technology that will turn back time enough for me to slam one down in
the rim again! "
US Prep Overview
In January 2020, the Department of Urban Education began its work with US PREP (University-School
Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation). The US Prep coalition is comprised
of numerous Education Preparation Programs nationwide that seek to serve historically
underserved populations in PK-12th grade school settings. The EPPs involved in the coalition share similar goals in
attracting and retaining high-quality, diverse teacher candidates to serve local schools.
Once Urban Ed joined US Prep, we began to receive support in attaining our department’s
goals as well as coalition goals in working toward:
Urban Ed administrators and some faculty members have benefitted from continual professional
development seminars and workshops offered by US Prep in support of department goals.
Additionally, bi-monthly meetings with a Regional Transformation Specialist (RTS)
are held to facilitate goal setting and achievement. The first year of our membership
with US PREP has focused on enhancing our undergraduate field-based program. Our pilot
cohort implementing program revision with the support of US PREP has been named Gators2Teachers,
highlighting that our student teachers will now engage in two full-length semesters
- Building teacher candidate competencies to meet the needs of all students, especially
our historically underserved students
- Using data to support continuous improvement efforts
- Supporting teacher educators with preparing novices to work with all students, especially
our historically underserved students
- Building strong partnerships with schools to meet the needs of the P-12 students in
The pilot cohort was placed in Houston ISD’s Wheatley High School feeder pattern at
Eliot and Pugh Elementary Schools. Student teachers placed on these campuses benefit
from increased involvement and training of their Cooperating Teachers and Principals
through scheduled mentor and governance meetings. The campus has a greater awareness
of the student teachers’ work and goals, and they are better prepared to support these
residents because of ongoing communication with a UHD Site Coordinator that also serves
as the fieldwork faculty member for Student Teachers.
Additional benefits that Gators2Teachers Student Teachers receive include additional
time on campus with the Cooperating Teacher and students, weekly class meetings with
a UHD Site Coordinator/faculty member, increased interaction with the UHD faculty
member in preparing for and reflecting upon lessons, increased number of classroom
observations, use of co-teaching model rather than observation model, and access to
district technology. The pilot Student Teachers have already shown a tremendous amount
of growth since their January placements, and campus administrators and teachers are
already expressing their gratitude to have these amazing UHD residents on their campuses!
As Urban Ed moves into the second year of its membership with US PREP, we look forward
to many new opportunities outlined in our Individualized Transformation Plan (ITP),
- continual scaling-up of the field-based program. Fall 2021 will welcome four new cohorts
to Gators2Teachers including EC-6 bilingual, EC-6 ESL, 4-8, and 7-12 certification
- faculty training in the T-TESS evaluation instrument used with Student Teachers and
- refinement of data collection and analyses. Additionally, a search has begun for a
US PREP Data Manager to guide some of these efforts.
Cynae Punch Brown
Director, Center for the Professional Development of Teachers
Ms. Brown is the Director of the Center for the Professional Development of Teachers
in the Urban Education Department. The goal of the Center is the professional development
of the next generation of public educators. Ms. Brown helps Urban Education Students
get through the program. She processes the applications of potential Urban Education
students; once they have entered the program, she is responsible for placing them
in schools for their field experience. She manages the Field Experience Instructors
(FEI) who supervise the student teachers in their field placements. While previously
working as a Field Experience Instructor herself, Mrs. Brown saw what student teachers
could accomplish with her encouragement. In her current role, she is able to help
shape the program and influence students.
Ms. Brown's mother was a speech pathologist, which led to her interest in languages.
Growing up in Houston, Ms. Brown also noticed that students who spoke different languages
became discouraged at the lack of assistance they received from their English-speaking
teachers. She enjoyed Spanish in high school, and she wanted to help change the treatment
of students who spoke English as a second language. As a result, she studied Spanish
literature and language at Howard University in Washington, DC.
Ms. Brown has a graduate degree in English as a Second Language from Regent University
and a second Master's degree from Harvard University in School Development and Educational Leadership. She is currently working towards her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy
Studies at the University of Houston. She has taught at all levels from elementary
through the college level and has also worked as a charter school administrator and
in charter school community relations.
When she was seven years old, Ms. Brown’s mother passed away after a long battle with
an illness. An avid reader, she turned to books to get through her grief and loss,
but she was discouraged to find that none of the main characters in any of the books
she read looked like her. As a teenager, Cynae committed to writing a book about
grief and loss representing African American children, such as herself. Years later,
she did this with Pineapple Sugar, a fictional account of an African American preteen facing her mother's terminal
illness. Ms. Brown hopes that the narrative format gives caregivers a way to help
grieving children process their loss. The book has allowed her to speak to book groups
and schools about loss. She also blogs about various topics including grief. Ms.
Brown would like to write more books that empower people to talk about other difficult
Ms. Brown is a creator. As well as being an author, she is a singer, songwriter, musician,
and poet. She grew up singing and playing music in church. She now writes and records,
and she produces music with her husband. They enjoy singing with their three young
children. Ms. Brown has a website, "I Speak. I Write. I Inspire"(www.cynaepunchbrown.com), where she publishes her blogs, music, and poetry.
The Science of Teaching Reading... and of Collaboration
The Department of Urban Education is excited to bring the science of teaching reading
(SoTR) to our university and to the community at large. Thanks to the project and
partnership development of Dr. Laura Link, the design and organization of Dr. Diane
Miller, the deep content expertise of Dr. Eve Zehavi, and valuable assistance from
UHD’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Department of Urban Education
has unveiled a collaboratively- produced, multi-purpose project to serve UHD students,
community partners, and teachers across the state of Texas.
This project addresses the need for test preparation resources for the newest state-mandated
certification test, the “Science of Teaching Reading” (TExES exam #293). Essentially,
SoTR is a body of knowledge informed by cognitive and neurological science about how
the brain learns to read and the pedagogical considerations best aligned to promote
successful reading in all children. In March of 2019, the Texas Legislature introduced
House Bill 3, a transformative bill on educational reform in the state of Texas. Among
the bill’s initiatives, two were related to SoTR. The consensus of reading research
was reflected in a new assessment* as well as in accompanying curricular changes for
Educator Preparation Programs.
Although such sweeping changes impacted all teacher education programs, the University
of Houston-Downtown embraced this challenge without delay. This project will serve
a broad audience, comprised of UHD’s own upper-level students, more than 300 of whom
are already enrolled in the course, nearby community partners, who will register via
UHD’s Community Education platform, and—potentially—a wide range of educators from
across the state. Dr. Laura Link, Associate Dean of the College of Public Service,
has already secured a sizable commitment from the Yes Prep Charter Schools to enroll
all of their Teaching Excellence alternative certification candidates who need this exam to become certified teachers.
Additionally, all those who successfully complete the SoTR course gain the opportunity
to enroll as UE post-baccalaureate graduate students—amplifying department enrollment.
This exciting, innovative approach serves our UE students’ needs while also increasing
our presence in and service to our local and state-wide educational community.
In order to write the interactive SoTR curriculum, Dr. Eve Zehavi, Assistant Professor
of Literacy Education, underwent a full year of training to gain a close understanding
of the content. In the summer of 2019, she attended a weeklong conference at MIT on
the Neuroscience of Reading, followed by the LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers
of Reading) training, an in-depth course of study on the foundational concepts, principles,
and best practice in reading assessment and instruction. Dr. Zehavi continued her
professional development by enrolling in the Reading Academies provided through the
TEA (Texas Education Agency) and Comprehensive Dyslexia Training through the IMSE
(Institute for Multi-Sensory Education).
Dr. Zehavi interpreted and synthesized her in-depth foundational knowledge and collaborated
with Dr. Diane Miller, Assistant Professor of Literacy Education, whose expertise
in pedagogy and instructional design helped to create a learning product that is easy
to use and aesthetically beautiful. Beyond mere practice test questions, this BlackBoard-based
course includes “a story in eight chapters” that comprehensively leads students through
After completing the eight chapters successfully, students have the option of completing
the Epilogue, which consists of two steps:
- Explore: a brief introduction of the SoTR standards
- Explain: a theoretically focused, in-depth video and note-taking guide
- Engage: a short activity based on the chapter’s concepts
- Extend: videos of classroom practice and guiding questions related to the theory
- Evaluate: a brief quiz based on the chapter’s content
- Enhance: a review of the content and provided resources
- Examine: an assessment modeled after the actual TExES exam #293, the Science of Teaching
Understanding the role of motivation in the learning process, Dr. Miller gamified
the content by implementing badges for each chapter and two levels of certification,
the “Certificate of Completion,” earned after finishing the eight chapters of content,
and the “Certificate of Learning,” earned after finishing the Epilogue.
“The Science of Teaching Reading: A Story in Eight Chapters” is now being marketed
by the College of Public Service and can be accessed through UHD’s Continuing Education
platform for any Texas educator seeking a deeper understanding of the Science of Teaching
Reading content and greater state exam readiness.
Dr. Kasi Bundoc was born in Alexandria, VA. However, soon after her birth, her parents
– both of whom worked for the FBI – decided to move back to their home state of Texas
so Kasi would know her extended family. Fortunately for us, she has been here ever
Dr. Bundoc grew up in the Houston area graduating from Katy ISD. Her undergraduate
degree is a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies from Texas State. “When I went away to
school, I declared my major in social work. Over time, I felt I would better serve
children as an educator. Specializing in literacy was a no-brainer. I have always
been a bookworm and longed for a chance to share my content knowledge and passion
with students. My undergraduate years were okay. I enjoyed my studies, but I did not
enjoy being at the university. It felt like an extension of high school.”
After college, she came back to the Houston area to begin her teaching career in Cy-Fair
ISD. Her classroom experience was in general education, special education, Gifted
and Talented, and English as a Second Language. At this same time, she started work
on her M.Ed. with a focus as a Reading Specialist. It was then she began working at
the University of Houston as an adjunct professor. “It was when I came back home to
begin graduate work at UH that I grew wings. I was surrounded by people that were
passionate about being educators that had so many varied experiences and perspectives.
I found my niche.” When working in Cy-Fair, Katy, and Spring Branch ISDs as well as
moving on to complete her Ed. D at the University of Houston, she was drawn to employment
that served Title 1 campuses in the greater Houston area. The population of those
schools was continually underserved. She hoped she could support the students and
campus teachers through her work.
Dr. Bundoc has been married to her husband, Robert for 21 years. They have two beautiful
children together, Addison is in the eighth grade, and Evan is in the sixth grade
in Katy ISD. They spend their evenings and weekends enjoying their children’s volleyball
games, track meets, lacrosse tournaments, and basketball games. “My children tell
me that Lucy, our Chihuahua, is my favorite child. That may or may not be true.”
Dr. Bundoc’s hobbies are reading fantasy and science fiction, hiking, and swimming/tubing.
She enjoys watching sci-fi series and movies with her family. She is currently binge-watching
“Criminal Minds” with her daughter. As for her bucket list? A South American trip
to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, and the Nazca lines are in view. Since that
won’t be happening any time soon, she will be happy just to get back to campus and
see her students!
Center for Public Service and Community Research
CARE - Collaboratory for Aging Resources and Education
No one wakes up and says, “Today, I will become a caregiver,” but for 5 million college
students, they wear that hat every day while juggling school, work, and other family
The Collaboratory for Aging Resources and Education (CARE), part of the Center for
Public Service and Community Research, is a new resource for the UHD and greater Houston
community. Part of CARE’s mission is to talk with people about their situations and
connect them to community resources. Dr. Angela Goins, a Social Work lecturer, and
Tammy Mermelstein, founded CARE to help fill an important community need. “CARE is
not only vital to our College but also to the entire University community as it provides
education and resources for those who may not know what questions to ask or where
to start,” Goins added. “There are so few places to go for good, unbiased information,
and I’m proud to be a part of this effort to help the UHD community connect to resources
that can improve lives.” Together, the Co-Directors have more than 40 years of aging
and caregiving experience. But I’m Not a Caregiver…
Many caregivers don’t see themselves as caregivers. Before January, CP, a student
in the Class of 2021, didn’t think she was a caregiver. When her grandmother had
a health crisis, she was thrust into that role. “This was a frustrating time for our
family,” CP said. “Had I known about [CARE], it would have been extremely helpful
to have someone guide me….”
“Maybe you are driving an older loved one to get groceries, or you check on them once
a week. Maybe you help a bit around the house. That’s being a caregiver, and there
may be resources to make things easier for you or your loved one” Mermelstein said. Let CARE Support You
“Knowledge is key,” CP added. “The more information we have about these services,
the more we will be prepared when we need them.”
If you or someone you know would like to talk with CARE about a situation or explore
what resources are available, contact CARE at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the News
Dr. Goins is a Geriatric Social Worker. She is also a Lecturer of Social Work and
the Director and Co-founder of the Collaboratory for Aging Resources and Education
(CARE) under the College of Public Service. A proud first-generation college graduate,
Dr. Goins earned a Bachelor of Arts- Communications from the University of St. Thomas,
Houston, a Masters of Social Work-Gerontology from University of Houston-Central,
and a Doctorate of Social Work-Education as Practice from St. Catherine University
- University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dr. Goins was born in Houston into a “big, nurturing Polish family with five brothers
and a sister.” They were taught the value of religion, education, and service to others.
At one point, her father worked three jobs to send all of them to private catholic
school from 1st grade through high school. Dr. Goins is the youngest in her family
and her parents were forty-one when she was born. Being exposed to her parent’s stories
of the Depression / World War II era that they grew up in gave Dr. Goins an “old soul”
and a particular affinity for older adults.
Dr. Goins loves being a Geriatric Social Worker and cannot think of any more rewarding
career. She is proud of her work with the State of Texas for over twenty-seven years.
Before coming to UHD, Dr. Goins spent almost twenty years in full-time practice combined
as both an investigative supervisor and investigator with the Texas Department of
Family and Protective Services under Adult Protective Services. In addition to teaching
at UHD, Dr. Goins currently works as a part-time medical social worker with Home Health
Care Network and as a part-time clinician doing therapy with clients at Shaunty Healing
Center, both in Houston.
Last year, Dr. Goins presented a co-authored paper about inequities with older inmates
in correction facilities at an aging conference at the University of Vienna, in Vienna,
Austria. The Journal of Human Rights and Social Work recently accepted a paper discussing
the financial costs related to field placements for social work students and related
social justice issues. Dr. Goins co-authored this paper with Dr. Smith and Dr. Savani,
her colleagues in the Social Work department.
Dr. Goins would like to write a book about her experiences and memoirs with her Adult
Protective Services’ clients. On her bucket list, other things include dancing the
Samba in Brazil, hiking in New Zealand, and seeing the Aurora Borealis with her “own
eyes one day.” Dr. Goins’ hobbies include reading, traveling, dancing, and listening
to all music types, especially Big Band. She enjoys having dinner and enjoying a
good bottle of wine with friends and family. She likes watching old movies with her
favorite actor Gregory Peck, as well as Madea movies by Tyler Perry. She is currently
enjoying watching Cobra Kai on Netflix. Her pet peeve is “those cars on the highway
that must have been built before the turn indicator was invented; the ones that cut
in front of you with no warning.”
Criminal Justice Earns High Marks in U.S. News & World Report for Third Consecutive
Each year, U.S. News & World Report performs as the standard bearer in its annual
assessment of online higher education programs.
The College of Public Service MSCJ degree ranked No. 30 in the publication's Best
Online Programs in Graduate Criminal Justice. This is the third consecutive year that
UHD has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report – the gold standard of University
rankings – for excellence in its academic offerings.
Additionally, the University ranked well among programs for Veterans. Making its debut
on the list, UHD ranked No. 54 among Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for former service
members. The University ranked No. 16 for Best Online Master’s Criminal Justice Programs
among this group.
Based in UHD’s College of Public Service, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice
(MSCJ) helps develop students’ knowledge of criminological theory, program evaluation
and criminal justice administration. The 36-hour program includes courses focused
on the most pertinent issues in the field and offers the skills needed for students
in their careers or to continue on to a doctoral program. The degree program also
requires a capstone graduate project or thesis. The MSCJ U.S. News & World Report
ranking places it among the top five online criminal justice programs in the state.
Dr. Ashley Blackburn, Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, spoke to the honor
this ranking brings UHD.
“The Department of Criminal Justice and Social Work is proud to have its Online Master
of Science degree in Criminal Justice continue to be ranked among the top in the nation
by U.S. News & World Report. We offer exceptional educational programs that prepare
students for success in future careers or opportunities for promotion for those students
who are already employed in the criminal justice field,” she said.
Read the full article as it appears on UHD News.
Former Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins, Recognized as Social Work Person of the
Chris Hollins made history as the youngest person to serve as Harris County Clerk,
as well as the first African American in that role. During his time in this critical
position, he led efforts to make voting safe and accessible during the peak of the
pandemic in Houston. As a result, Harris County set voter turnout records during the
November 2020 election.
Hollins served as County Clerk on an interim basis and made an immediate impact. Although
he has since stepped out of the Harris County Clerk’s office, Houstonians remain grateful
for Hollins’ commitment to ensure they would have the opportunity to vote. On Monday,
March 22, he received further accolades for his time as County Clerk as he was named
UHD’s Social Work Person of the Year.
According to Dana Smith, Assistant Professor of Social Work and Director of Field
Studies, Hollins demonstrated social work’s core values of service and social justice
as he fought opposition to his expansion of polls throughout the county and worked
diligently to protect citizens’ voting rights.
Hollins joins an elite group of Houstonians who have earned the honor of Social Work
Person of the Year. Previous honorees include restaurateur Russell Ybarra, Harris
County District Attorney Kim Ogg, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, Houston Mayor Sylvester
Turner, Pulitzer Prize-winning Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg, and BakerRipley
President Emerita, Angela Blanchard.
Dr. Whitney Threadcraft-Walker
Dr. Threadcraft is an assistant professor of Criminal Justice. She is a UHD alumnus,
having earned her Bachelor of Science- Sociology, and Masters of Science - Criminal
Justice from the University. She earned her Doctorate of Philosophy-Administration
of Justice from Texas Southern University.
Dr. Threadcraft's mother is also a Criminal Justice professor who graduated from UHD.
Hearing her mother speak about various policies and their impact on people, families,
and communities "ignited a spark" in Threadcraft and she became interested in understanding
why things in the criminal justice system were so broken and began to try to identify
solutions. She was particularly interested in why Black and Latinx communities were
over-represented in the criminal justice system while simultaneously being severely
underrepresented in terms of being criminal justice decision-makers, policymakers,
evaluators, and researchers. She is committed to training a cadre of diverse and
innovative criminal justice professionals.
Dr. Threadcraft's research interest is de-incarceration, which is the movement of
people out of the criminal justice system. She is currently a Fellow in the Government
Innovation Fellowship program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
The project Dr. Threadcraft is working on involves changing how police officers respond
to individuals with mental illness. In the program, which is taking place in rural
areas in Texas, EMTs accompany the police on calls involving individuals experiencing
mental health issues and divert the individual to a mental health setting for treatment
instead of into the criminal justice system.
Dr. Threadcraft is also interested in applied research. She would love to write a
book for criminal justice practitioners about translating research into policy and
procedures. Her previous work with Harris County reflects her interest in applied
research. At the Pre-Trial Services Agency, which supports defendants from the time
of their arrest to the resolution of their case, she developed the research agenda
to help identify supervision practices that negatively affect defendants and better
understand how to help defendants be successful. She was the research manager at
the Office of Budget Management, evaluating programs and policies to determine if
they were a good fit for the county.
Dr. Threadcraft is from Houston and is married with three children, ages: eight, six,
and three. She enjoys cooking and has been baking lots of cookies during quarantine.
She enjoys watching horror, science fiction, and mystery movies. Her biggest pet
peeve is when people are rude to individuals who work in customer service. She would
like to experience the Pacific Northwest's climate and visit England to experience
its culture and history.
Dr. Hung is an Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education in the Department of
Urban Education. Dr. Hung and her husband are from Taiwan and speak Mandarin Chinese.
Dr. Hung has a Bachelor’s of History from Soochow University (SCU) Taipei, Taiwan,
and a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from National Taiwan Normal
University. After completing her Master’s degree, Dr. Hung taught high school level
history in Taiwan. She found that due to Taiwan’s relationship with the People’s Republic
of China and issues of Sovereignty and National Identity, history was a challenging
subject. She wanted to learn a better way of presenting the content of the curriculum
she was teaching. Having decided she wanted to continue her education abroad, Dr.
Hung was offered a scholarship to Michigan State University in 2011. While at Michigan
State, she earned a Ph. D in Curriculum Instruction and Teacher Education while working
as a teaching assistant.
Dr. Hung has been married since 2013. Her husband worked in Vietnam until 2014 when
he moved to Michigan so they could start their family. They now have a five-year-old
son. Dr. Hung and her family moved to Katy in 2017 after she accepted her current
position at UHD. She chose to come to UHD because of the diversity of the students,
faculty, and social contexts.
Dr. Hung’s teaching focus is on social studies education and curriculum theory. Her
research focus is on teachers and how their life experiences and backgrounds contribute
to the way teachers present the curriculum and how teachers mediate broader social
tensions in society when in the classroom. Dr. Hung’s Ph.D. thesis titled "Exploration
of teacher life stories: History teachers' curricular gatekeeping of controversial
public issues” was based on research she did on how Taiwanese teachers’ backgrounds
and the role of Taiwan’s controversial relationship with the People’s Republic of
China influences teachers’ representation to their students. On moving to Texas, she
realized the life experiences and background of teachers from immigrant families influenced
the way they taught about immigration. In 2018, she conducted a study focusing on
three bilingual third-generation immigrant teachers and how they represented the immigration
issue to their students. She found that the teachers sharing their personal stories
with their students, who were primarily from immigrant families themselves, made it
easier for the students to relate to their teachers. They were able to represent immigration
in a more positive way for students who may have previously experienced immigration
via other venues, such as on social media. Dr. Hung has had several articles published
in various journals such as: Asia Pacific Journal of Education, Journal of International Social Studies, and Teaching and Teacher Education. Her
current research, conducted in Houston, will be published in the Journal of Social Studies Research.
Dr. Hung likes to read books that are related to education such as Teacher as Stranger
by Maxine Greene which she tries to read every year because it reminds her to look
at her students with “fresh eyes.” She read Little Women
when she was growing up in Taiwan and has seen several different movie versions.
Other movies she has recently enjoyed are Parasite
Richard “Rick” Powers comes to UHD having a rich and varied background in the field
of Criminal Justice. Born in Atlanta, but he grew up in Chicago where he started his
career as a police officer including four years undercover in a state narcotics task
force. After 20 plus years of terrible Chicago winters, he moved to Florida to finish
both undergraduate and graduate school.
Like so many of our students, Rick worked his way through school: first at a community
college and then finishing his undergraduate degree at the University of West Florida
as an International Studies major. It took him almost nine years to get his degree!
He then attended and graduated from Florida State University Law School. Because
he was a bit older, worked, and had a family, he was more organized and more practical
in his approach to law school than most others (and more sleep-deprived). He admires
UHD students because so many are doing the same.
After law school, he was a state prosecutor in Orlando, and then joined a civil litigation
law firm mostly defending police officers, judges, doctors, and others from lawsuits. However,
“something was missing.” He decided to return to his law enforcement roots and apply
to the FBI. Six months later, he was in new agent training in Quantico, Virginia. He
spent 21 years in the FBI as a field agent, supervisor at FBI headquarters and the
field, did assignments overseas, and then headed field offices where agents worked
in about everything the FBI does. After his FBI career, he was an executive in, and consulted
for, several international corporations in the security management area before coming
to UHD full time.
Because he moved into leadership roles, he and his family moved about six times. One
of those moves was to Houston. They fell in love with the city and its people, its
food, and its weather! Eventually, he finished his career as the Special Agent in
Charge of the Houston FBI office and began teaching at UHD as an Adjunct professor.
Last August, he became a full-time Lecturer and Coordinator for our Northwest Campus
CJ program. “It has been fantastic.”
Rick’s wife is a former university student affairs person who became very active in
various leadership roles with Houston educational nonprofits. They have three children
– two sons who own their own business and a daughter about to graduate from the UH
MSW program with plans to be a child and adolescent therapist. His brother, who he
is super proud of, is also an educator. He is an MD and a former ER doctor. He then
became a NASA flight surgeon in the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs and now heads
the Aerospace Medicine Residency at UTMB medical school. He still works with NASA
and their commercial space flight program!
“I come from a family with a history of public service...my grandfather was a judge,
I have cousins who are police officers, and others who are teachers and in health
care...I guess it’s a family tradition to try to give to the community. But we do
have choices as individuals, and I discovered for me personally, helping others in
unserved and underserved communities...as well as helping those who don't have a strong
voice themselves… is incredibly rewarding. That's what's so great about working with
UHD CPS students. They want to make a difference in their communities and the world,
and I get to help them!”
When asked what other career he might have wanted to pursue, Richard said he would
be a psychologist involved in crisis intervention and crisis therapy. As an FBI agent,
he trained as a hostage/crisis negotiator, including advanced training at Quantico
and London’s Scotland Yard. “Working with persons in crisis to prevent self-harm and
harm to others is challenging, fascinating, and really important...especially right
Rick is currently writing a book. His bucket list includes riding on a freighter across
the Atlantic and standing on the South Pole! His hobbies include working on a sailboat
he inherited from his dad. “It’s old, tired, cheap, and I think it’s beautiful. Houston
lets me enjoy it (and work on it) almost all year round!”
True to form as a public servant, Rick’s pet peeves are people who are unkind (“because
it’s not hard to be kind”), people who have big egos (“your work will speak for itself”), and
people who don't realize the power of supporting and empowering others (“we all win
when that happens!”).