11:24 AM

Transfer Student Robert Rivas ‘Dairs’ to Teach

UHD Program Turns College Students Into Much-Needed Teachers


By Marie Jacinto

20231006_142713Robert Rivas is passionate about becoming a teacher. A Lone Star College transfer student, Rivas is part of the first cohort of the UHD’s DAIR (Diversity, Access, Inclusion, Representation) to Teach program, which helps transfer students from underserved communities take the steps necessary to earn their teaching certificates.

Rivas’s drive to become a teacher is for “future generations and the impact that education will have on their lives,” said Rivas. “Both of my parents are first-generation college students; my father came to Texas from Mexico in pursuit of education and a better future for him and his family. Despite the odds, my father eventually became a teacher. Education has become a pillar in my life.”

Since last August, Rivas and 30 other transfer students have studied and received extra mentoring and academic coaching from UHD professors in their quest to become teachers, a prime example of how UHD creates supportive environments for transfer students to thrive. Rivas will ultimately graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Teacher Certification in EC - 6 w/Bilingual Supplemental Certification and become a teacher in one to two years. 

National Transfer Student Week

National Transfer Student week is Oct. 16-20. As a university where the majority of students began their higher ed journey at a community college, UHD is in a unique position to show current and potential transfer students the benefits of transferring to colleges and universities to pursue academic and professional goals. UHD is a partner in Houston Guided Pathways to Success, helping pave the way for the transition from community college to university. 

“We are excited to be on the forefront of providing a guided pipeline from high school to teaching certification for students who otherwise might not have had this opportunity,” said UHD President Loren J. Blanchard. “With multiple engagement points involving colleges, universities, and school districts, we are creating various pathways for students to become certified teachers in their home districts.”

Funded by an $850,000 grant from the Houston Endowment, the DAIR (Diversity, Access, Inclusion, Representation) to Teach Program aims to dismantle systemic barriers that deter individuals from diverse backgrounds from becoming teachers, offering them the resources and support needed for a successful transition to certified teacher status. This program aligns with Houston Endowment’s mission to foster a vibrant region where everyone has the chance to thrive.

The program is offered at UHD’s Downtown, Northwest, and Lone Star College-Kingwood campuses. All 31 students in the program’s first cohort entered the program in August with a minimum of 45 credits from Houston Community College or Lone Star College.

The DAIR to Teach Program is an innovative initiative developed by a seasoned team of UHD educators in the Urban Education Program of the College of Public Service, including Dr. Christal Burnett Sánchez as Faculty Program Lead; Drs. Tonya D. Jeffery and Lizette Navarrete-Burks as Faculty Mentors; and Ms. Vivian McKelvey as Program Director. The program enhances teaching skills, deepens understanding of diverse student populations, and fosters connections with educational leaders.

The program benefits students in multiple ways:

  • Financial assistance for books and supplies.
  • Mentorship and professional development opportunities.
  • Certification exam preparation and support.
  • Networking events.
  • Personalized academic coaching.
  • Internship opportunities.
  • Laptops with carrying cases.

The DAIR to Teach Program plans to add 10 additional DAIR Scholars in spring 2024 and a second cohort during the 2024-2025 academic year. Interested students transferring to UHD to earn a bachelor’s degree in Education may email dairtoteach@uhd.edu for more information.

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.