Jamelli Cortez started her journey at San Jacinto College in the diagnostic medical sonography program.
“I went into sonography because I knew there was always a need for those types of jobs,” Cortez said. “My mom was pregnant at the time, and I loved seeing her ultrasounds. I thought this was going to be my career, but I didn’t have a passion for it.”
In August 2021, Cortez took a part-time job with Galena Park Independent School District as a tutor, and her career goals changed forever.
“I started tutoring students in early childhood education, from pre-K to fourth grade,” she said. “I fell in love with teaching and never looked back.”
Cortez made her major switch with help from the College’s educational planners and began pursuing her degree in teaching.
Everyone at San Jac was a big help when I switched my majors. I wasn’t sure if it would be an easy transition, but they made it work for me.
Cortez’s passion grew while attending class and putting her lessons into practice each day as a tutor.
“I loved learning everything I could about the teaching career,” Cortez said. “Seeing the kids interact with their teachers — the way the teachers handled classroom management — I soaked in every bit of it. It made me excited for my future.”
Cortez cites education professor Jorge Embil and early childhood program director Caresal Bolds for further igniting her enthusiasm about a career in teaching.
“Mr. Embil would show us in detail what is expected of a teacher and how we can deeply impact the lives of students,” Cortez said. “I love the fact that they showed us how kids’ minds develop and how to reach them where they are. They both inspired me to be a great teacher.”
On a personal note, Cortez also practiced her classroom management and tutoring skills at home with her sister who is 17 years younger.
“She is going to kindergarten this year, so I’ve been helping her practice her reading, math, and writing,” Cortez said. “It’s fun to see her progression, and it helps me grow my skills too.”
Cortez graduated with her associate degree in teaching from San Jacinto College in May 2023. In the future, she hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree and teach bilingual classes in third or fourth grade at a local school district.
Designed with students like Cortez in mind, the Bachelor of Applied Science in education with an emphasis in early childhood education launched at San Jacinto College in spring 2024.
The program is available to professionals with an Associate of Applied Science in early childhood/child development and is supported through grant funding from the Houston Endowment.
The College plans to enroll an initial cohort of 50 students with hopes to increase that number to 125 for the second-year cohort. The College estimates 225 students will be enrolled in the program by the third year.
Check out more stories from the Chancellor’s Report to the Community.