Assistant Professor of Human Services and Sociology
After graduating early from high school, Shari Valentine worked in the Texas Legislature for 15 years. When she became “burned out on politics,” she formed a plastics recycling nonprofit company.
She even worked as a grant writer and field researcher for major universities, and performed trial research for lawyers.
But Valentine decided to return to college to finish her undergraduate degree, and she didn’t look back.
“I just kept going until I completed my doctoral work,” she said.
After teaching for several years at two universities in Texas, Valentine joined the sociology faculty at Henderson State.
“I wanted to live in a smaller place, and I really enjoyed the class sizes and the great diversity of Henderson students,” she said. “As a first-generation college graduate myself, I wanted the chance to teach others breaking that new ground.
“And I liked the sociology faculty when I met them on my campus visit. It seemed a place I would be happy, and so far, I am.”
Valentine finds teaching a satisfying and rewarding career.
“I love going home each day feeling as if I gave something worthwhile to the people I interacted with,” she said. That has always been true for me, and teaching allows me to do that more consistently than almost anything I have ever done.
“I love being able to pay forward the critical thinking skills and knowledge that were given to me in my educational journey.”
In the classroom, Valentine encourages her students to become engaged in the discussion.
“If the class period ends and I have done more than half of the talking, I am not as happy as when I am doing more listening and strategic questioning,” she said. “I want to be the catalyst for students to do their own thinking and questioning, not just the lecturer that tells them the facts.
“I am all about critical thinking. Ask questions. Don’t assume what you are thinking is wrong or right for that matter – think it through, find the facts, and look for the connections.”
Valentine said sociology degrees are versatile.
“People can easily go on to graduate school with sociology degrees, government work, and nonprofit organizations,” she said. “Helping professions all have good representation of sociology degrees.”
Valentine once managed an art gallery. If she wasn’t teaching sociology in a higher education setting, “that might be fun to do again.”
When not in the classroom, Valentine enjoys viewing performance art.
“Watching talented people do what they do best is a passion for me,” she said. “I also love visual art and animals. I have three dogs and a cat. My shelves are full of books, while my walls are full of art.”
Sociology and Human Services
Degree and School:
Ph.D. in Sociology, Texas A and M University
• Social movements among indigenous peoples
• How art and performance relate to social activism
I've been at Henderson since: