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UTSA grad Jasmine Victor wants to change the classroom experience for young adults

UTSA grad Jasmine Victor wants to change the classroom experience for young adults


NOVEMBER 29, 2023 — Ask anyone who knew Jasmine Victor growing up, and they’ll tell you how shy she used to be. The soon-to-be UTSA graduate broke out of her shell during her last years in high school and has been on a mission to help other young adults reach their full potential.

Victor will cross the Commencement stage this fall to receive her Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies with an emphasis in higher education – a different direction from where she initially started. She earned her bachelor's in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, her master’s in public relations from the University of Houston and is rounding out her educational path in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.

“I grew up very quiet and had a speech impediment that I went to speech therapy for in elementary school,” she said. “My brother, the extrovert with a big personality, would speak up for me a lot and when he went off to college that’s when I really had to come into my own.”

“I want to help increase the visibility and the number of Black women faculty in the classroom, because I do think that kind of exposure, especially in environments of learning, is important.”

At a young age, she thought she was going to be an elementary school teacher. She would line up her teddy bears on the staircase and teach them whatever she learned that day at school. It was the one time when she was younger that she spoke freely.

Throughout her education and in her jobs, she put herself in roles that encouraged interaction, gave her the opportunity to work with young adults and be a mentor of sorts. She spent time as a teaching assistant and a resident advisor working directly with students.  

“The thing I appreciated most was that interaction with students in an educational role,” she said. “I knew I wanted to come back to college to get my Ph.D. and study higher education to help continue to create those strong developmental opportunities for young adults.”

Victor joined UTSA in the fall of 2020 as a doctoral fellow at the Urban Education Institute (UEI), studying how to improve educational outcomes for youth and adults in San Antonio. She started her postdoctoral research fellowship at UEI this semester where she’ll continue her work with the organization. For her dissertation, Victor researched how to improve policies and practices that influence the development and trajectory of Black women faculty.

Her research was inspired by data that showed among full-time contingent, tenure-track, and tenured faculty in the U.S., only 48% identified as women and fewer than six percent as Black. Only a little more than three percent identified as Black women.

This information struck a chord with Victor. However, instead of letting it weigh her down, she was inspired to change those numbers. She is dedicating her future to empowering the young leaders of tomorrow – especially other young Black women – to see themselves in careers, roles and opportunities that haven’t always been so welcoming.

“I want to be in the classroom helping train the next generation of higher education leaders,” Victor said. “I want to help increase the visibility and the number of Black women faculty in the classroom, because I do think that kind of exposure, especially in environments of learning, is important.”

“No matter what I end up teaching,” she continued. “Whether it’s educational leadership, gender or African American studies, I will be able to expose students to being around people that look like me and encourage them to not feel as if they don’t belong in certain spaces because they do belong. They can strive for whatever they want to do. That’s really where I find my passion.”

A Houston native, Victor took a chance on UTSA. Her husband, Aaron, was already a student at the university when she decided to apply. She began her classes during the pandemic and described her start as being a bit rough, but worth it in the end.

She built strong relationships with her mentors, took chances to research topics that mattered to her and expanded her network with groups on and off campus. “She will continue to do great things beyond graduation,” said Claudia García-Louis, an associate professor in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, who describes Victor as “brilliant, goal oriented and a visionary.”

Learn more about UTSA’s Urban Education Institute.
Explore the academic programs offered by the UTSA College of Education and Human Development.

Victor counts García-Louis among those who have impacted her along the way.

“The thing that made the difference at UTSA – because I did feel very isolated at one point – was relationships with my dissertation chair Dr. García-Louis, some of the other faculty and having my fellowship,” she said. “They really made me feel like I belonged, and I felt seen in my relationships with them. I am still a bit shy sometimes. Having real conversations with them about opportunities, and one-on-one interactions made the difference in my experience here; it made it worth it.”

Michelle Gaitan

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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