Campus and Community

UHD Student Answers Call to Serve the Community

Ignacio Gamez
Photo: Thomas B. Shea

The desire to teach is a calling—a deep need to nurture and inspire—that requires teachers to shape students into strong, contributing members of the community.

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) College of Public Service senior Ignacio Gamez doesn’t take this responsibility lightly.

“Teachers who taught me to speak English while teaching me in my native language (Spanish) made a huge impression on me,” he said. “Now, I feel a sense of duty to help students in the same situation. That’s why I chose to work in a school with a high population of Hispanic students.”

The first-generation college student will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies EC-6 with a bilingual supplemental. Gamez plans to work as a bilingual teacher in one of Houston’s Southwest Houston Independent School District’s Title I schools.

Title I is a government-funded financial assistance program that provides resources for local schools with high percentages of students from low-income families to ensure the students meet academic standards.

Serving his community through education comes naturally to this Sunday school teacher and youth minister.

“As far back as I can remember, I dreamed of becoming an educator,” he said. “UHD’s Urban Education Department provided hands-on classroom experience that prepared me for my career.”

Thanks to the program, Gamez was able to teach Pre-K students, prepare lesson plans, engage parents, and work within the community.

It only took one campus visit for Gamez to realize that UHD was the perfect fit.

“I heard great things about the Urban Education Program” he added. “But, it was the sense of community on campus that sealed the deal.”

This spring, the Ciudad Madero, Mexico native was the recipient of the Red Rose Scholarship—one of the highest honors for UHD students.

For Gamez, the scholarship was impeccable timing.

“I was worried about how I could manage working as a full-time student teacher during my last semester,” said the husband and father of three. “If it wasn’t for the scholarship, I would’ve had to split the semester and graduate later. Now, I can finish and start serving my community.”