Awards & Highlights Awards & Highlights Awards & Highlights

Awards & Highlights

Each year, UHV honors an outstanding student who has demonstrated leadership on campus and in the community, and partners who have worked to expand higher education in the region.

Numerous local, state and national organizations also recognize UHV students, alumni, faculty and staff for their achievements.

Here are some awards and highlights from 2020-2021:

UHV Special Recognition Awards

Tiarah Figueroa – Student Leadership Award

David and Tammy Murphy – Community Partnership Award

Rawley McCoy – People Who Make A Difference Award

Student & Alumni Achievements

Robert Merino (1997) was named the president-elect of the Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and now is serving as the president.

Gary Masculine was awarded a free yearlong membership into the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a nonprofit that provides industry-leading certification, research journals, career development services and more to sport science professionals worldwide.

Christine Hollinden (1985) was given the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award, and Kristen Sayegh (2009) received the 2021 Young Alumnus of the Year Award during the UHV Virtual Alumni Celebration.

Sadie Atha won the third annual UHV President’s Holiday Card Contest for her drawing of a jaguar wearing a Santa hat and sleeping in front of a fireplace. She received a $1,000 scholarship.

Jena West (2013, 2015) and Diane Kliem (1992) were keynote speakers in the UHV Alumni Networking Luncheon series.

Prabha Sapkota, Artee Shrestha, Susana Samayoa, Jocelyne Martinez and Blaise Wangmeni were awarded sponsorships to attend the Great Minds in STEM national conference. Sapkota also won first place with a UH-Downtown student in the Data Analytic Hackathon during the conference.

Emi Ruiz (2021) was recognized with the “Unsung Leader” award from the Texas Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Noemi Bustamante, Dominic Flores and Eli Juma were named Royal Jaguars during UHV’s 2021 Jaguars Stay Home(coming) celebration.

Diane Kliem (1992) and Michael Cavanaugh (2005) were named to the UHV President’s Regional Advisory Board.

Trang Huynh was selected for a 10-week internship with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s laboratories.

Ronnie Edwards (2008) was appointed assistant superintendent for school leadership and support in the Katy Independent School District.

Mayte Rios Lopez was awarded an internship with, a Germany-based international brokerage for maritime transportation. She was placed with the company after receiving one of 10 scholarships through Virtual Internships, which helps high school and college students find internships with companies worldwide.

Caitlin Bartosh (2017) was named Teacher of the Year at A.C. Jones High School in Beeville.

Frederica Amfo was accepted into the Joint Admission Medical Program, a program created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage eligible students to pursue medical degrees.

Jasmine Sharifi (2020) was named Rookie Teacher of the Year at Peter McElwain Elementary School, and Denise Caldwell (2021) received the same award at Robert and Felice Bryant Elementary. Both schools are in the Katy Independent School District.

Albert Scaria and Trang Huynh presented artificial intelligence research during webinars for the Charotar University of Science and Technology in India.

Sandra Coleman and Amy Spalik each received a $1,000 2021-2022 Cynthia L. Schneider Mathematics Preservice Teacher Scholarship from the Texas Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Tiarah Figueroa was named the recipient of the Student Organization Member of the Year award during a video announcement for the annual UHV Student Organization and Leadership awards. The Multicultural Advisory Council, led by Jaira Jenkins, was named the Student Organization of the Year. Eli Juma was named the Student Volunteer of the Year. Daisy Maldonado-Cervantes, Jenkins, Jacquelyn Velazquez and Marilyn Medina were recognized with the Spirit of the Jaguar Award. Sarah Stanaland was honored with a “I Am UHV” $750 scholarship, and Lisa Seidenberger received a “I Am UHV” $500 scholarship.

Beverly Bellot, Daniel Perez, Pavithra Sivashanmugam and Andrew Tomek were named Outstanding Students as part of the university’s new Academic Affairs awards.

Faculty & Staff Achievements

Tara Vaughn was named the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation Endowed Professor of Nursing, a professorship intended for a doctoral-prepared Registered Nurse who has a Master of Science in Nursing and is a full-time UHV faculty member.

Esther Cuenca was awarded the 2021 Van Courtlandt Elliott Prize from the Medieval Academy of America for her academic essay “Town clerks and the authorship of custumals in medieval England.”

Brandon Lee was elected as incoming president of the Kiwanis Club of Victoria.

The UH System Board of Regents named retired UHV professors Hal Smith and Meledath Damodaran as professors emeriti. The title of professor emeritus is given to retired faculty members by their colleagues to honor their service to the university and their profession.

Mark Ward’s publication, “Sermons as Social Interaction: Pulpit Speech, Power and Gender,” received two awards for Article of the Year from the Religious Communication Association and the Spiritual Communication Division of the National Communication Association. He also presented his research about religious communication and media at the National Communication Association annual convention.

Abran Rodriguez was the recipient of a $2,170 Chi Sigma Iota Excellence in Counseling Research Grant for wellness counseling research for his study titled “The Essential Self: Gay Men’s Perceptions of Spirituality, Gender Identity, Cultural Identity and Self-Care.”

Hardik Gohel was awarded UHV’s 2021-2022 Internal Research Grant. He also joined UH’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise Data Science Institute as a faculty researcher of data science and artificial intelligence. In addition, a research article Gohel cowrote, titled “Electrochemical SARS-CoV-2 Sensing at Point-of-Care and Artificial Intelligence for Intelligent COVID-19 Management” was recognized by the World Health Organization and listed on the organization’s COVID-19 Global Literature on Coronavirus Disease webpage.

The university received a total of four prestigious ADDY awards for creative excellence from the Corpus Christi Chapter and District 10 of the American Advertising Federation. The awards included the Best of Sales & Marketing award and a Gold ADDY from the AAF-Corpus Christi Chapter for a UHV Athletics campaign promoting the 2020 Weekend for the Jaguars. The pieces were designed by Larzell Cowan. The campaign also received a Gold ADDY in the four-state AAF-District 10 competition. In addition, the university won a Bronze ADDY from the AAF-Corpus Christi Chapter in the Cross-Platform Integrated Advertising Consumer Campaign category for pieces for the 2019-2020 UHV President’s Annual Report & Excellence Awards. Those who worked on the pieces included George Rodriguez, Marci Wallace, Cowan, Aby Gonzalez, Katie Wilson, Kelsey Mills and Enkeleta Dervishi.

Michael Wiblishauser co-authored the medical research paper “COVID-19 Vaccination Hesitancy in the United States: A Rapid National Assessment” in the Journal of Community Health, a national academic journal.

Kayla Sappington was named the 2020 UHV Employee of the Year.

UHV Junior Faculty Summer Research Grants were awarded to Esther Cuenca and Laura Mammina.

Shannon Viola and Elise Hendricker wrote a column about UHV’s Specialist in School Psychology program that was featured in the Texas Association of School Psychologists’ winter newsletter.

Sandy Venneman and Yixi Ning were granted faculty development leave for the academic year. Venneman is researching student learning anxieties and academic integrity, while Ning is researching the long-term trends of executive compensation in large corporations.

Kyle Schlesinger was nominated to be the 2021-2022 State Poet Laureate.

UHV Academic Affairs started an annual awards program to recognize outstanding university faculty, staff and students. Recipients included Willie Black, Outstanding Junior Faculty Member; Elise Hendricker, Faculty Mentor of the Year; Jennifer Ortiz-Garza, Above and Beyond Award; Yun Wang and Rhiannon Smith, Outstanding Administrative Leaders; Jennifer Reeder, Outstanding Advisor; and Kendra Matthews, Outstanding Office Staff Member.

Mark Martinez received the State Star Award from the South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center Network.

Brooks Sterritt published his first novel, “The History of America in my Lifetime.”

Ricardo Teixeira and Jang Woo Park published their book, “Mathemagics: A Magical Journey through Advanced Mathematics,” through World Scientific Publishing.

James Williams received certification as a Texas Commission on Fire Protection-Fire Inspector I and II.

Daniel White received the UHV Teaching Excellence Award.

Gen Kaneko was awarded the UHV Research and Scholarly Activity Excellence Award.

Ricardo Teixeira was the recipient of the UHV Distinguished Faculty Service Award.

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