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Dr. Shelley Howell

University of Texas at San Antonio

Interim Associate Vice Provost, Teaching and Learning Services

Lecturer, First Year Experience

My Story

I grew up in a suburb of Dallas, Texas and graduated from high school in a small town in Oklahoma. I have lived in a lot of exciting places during my life including Idaho, Oklahoma, Missouri, California, Colorado and the Philippines. I was the first in my family to attend college. I was never encouraged to go to college, but I knew it was what I wanted to do from an early age. I didn't start college right out of high school, though, but got married and had children instead.  

When I did start college, I was married and about to have my second child. I decided I wanted to take one class and went to the local community college in Missouri. There I met Faith Lovell, who offered me a scholarship if I could take at least 12 hours. I jumped at the chance, used my grants to pay for child care, and started my college career! I have never once regretted that decision. 

I earned my associate’s degree in English from State Fair Community College in Missouri in 2 1/2 years in a traditional manner, and was even the editor of the college newspaper. My bachelor’s degree in training and development from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale was pieced together from transfer credit and a military program offered on an Air Force base that took 12 months, going to class every other weekend (yes, all day Saturday and all day Sunday!). I was a military spouse and during the 1980s getting a college education wasn't easy if you weren't staying in one place. I finished the final coursework for the bachelor's degree at the University of Oklahoma and immediately started my master's degree in adult education there. After I earned an M.Ed. in adult education from the University of Oklahoma, I waited seven years before starting my Ed.D. at Oklahoma State University. I completed that final degree in 2004. 

Professionally, I worked a few odd jobs early in my life as wait staff, a cashier, a production assistant at a daily newspaper, a volunteer at a TV station overseas, and as a news writer. I landed what I considered my first "real" job at the University of Oklahoma when I volunteered to write grant proposals for the College of Continuing Education. I worked hard on those proposals and was offered a few temporary contracts that were paid from those grants that were awarded. When one of the full-time staff members there moved to another position, I applied and was hired full-time! In my first role at University of Oklahoma I worked with faculty on courses and travel programs they couldn't offer through their academic departments. I helped faculty with all of their course needs, including the travel arrangements for summer programs to England, Egypt, Mexico, Santa Fe, Washington, D.C. and other fun locations. I was able to travel with these faculty on their programs and learned a lot during my travels with them. I also had my first teaching opportunity at OU as an adjunct faculty in the freshman success program. I taught brand new students how to navigate college and be successful students. 

After nine years at OU, I was recruited for a position as Executive Director of an arts organization, promoting arts education across the state of Oklahoma. I was the inaugural director of the organization, so used my skills to set up and market the organization, and raise funding through grants and community donations. Once the organization was set up, I turned it over to someone who had more experience with fundraising, the real need of such an organization.

I moved back into higher education after that and spent the next several years working for the Oklahoma state higher education system, writing academic policy and coordinating events with faculty regarding transfer of credit, the high-school-to-college transition and a degree completion program. I learned a lot about higher education and its political environment. I missed teaching students during this time, but enjoyed working with administrators and faculty and learning more about the bigger political picture of higher education at a state level. 

In 2006, I moved into a different sector of higher education and became an academic administrator for a local University of Phoenix campus, managing all of the faculty and academic chairs. I was very successful in this endeavor and when the time was right I moved to a larger campus and managed two states, with almost 5,000 students, 400 faculty and 16 staff. I learned a lot about managing people in this role, and have carried over some very valuable lessons. I was also able to teach freshmen again (my true passion) and expand my teaching experience to undergraduate sociology courses, graduate education courses, and teaching and mentoring doctoral students. 

I left Phoenix and for a couple of years served as director of general education and then associate dean for a small online university. I taught sociology courses, managed the general education program and helped create a project-based MBA program. I was also able to assist with course and program development and accreditation activities -- more valuable experience.

In 2016, I moved back to Texas where I feel I have come home. I am currently in a staff position as a Teaching and Learning Consultant at the University of Texas at San Antonio where I work with faculty on instructional strategies and am once again teaching college freshmen. 

I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel to Egypt, England, Scotland, Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Guam, Okinawa and all over the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. Some were with OU students, and some with the military and some were just for fun. I raised four kids and worked full-time most of the time I was in college. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. My kids are now adults and raising their own families.

I have a few things I enjoy outside of working and teaching: Photography, reading Stephen King, hiking, and listening to the blues.

Even though life has thrown me some curve balls throughout the years, I wouldn't trade any of my experiences. They have made me who I am today! 

Everything in life is a blessing or a lesson. Learn from every experience. 

I'm first gen!

One of the most unique experiences of my life...a visit to Egypt and the Great Pyramids. 

A hike on Hadrian's Wall.

The day I earned my doctorate degree.

Some of my favorite art. 

Be different.

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