More than 60 students from The University of Texas-Pan American were recognized for their academic and leadership achievements Sunday, April 21 during the 23rd annual Awards and Recognitions Convocation.
Joined by family, friends and faculty at the Student Union Theatre, students received certificates of recognition for their accomplishments. UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez congratulated recipients for their hard work and efforts while also advising them that "success is a journey, not a destination."
"Whether your network of support was very strong or whether you had to shoulder most of the responsibilities on your own, you need to be aware that it all started with you," Nevárez said. "You had to have the determination to succeed. ... Recognize and celebrate your success, not only today but always.
"At the same time, you've had a great start, but you will have to work even harder, study longer, be more involved with your community and take the initiative to continue your success. Learning is a lifelong process. Never stop learning. Never stop growing."
Other convocation attendees included Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, provost/vice president for Academic Affairs; Dean of Students Elvie Pérez Davis; and deans or representatives of each of the six colleges.
Keynote speaker Dr. Salma I. Ghanem, Department of Communication chair and associate professor, told the audience excellence is a rare quality that comes in many forms. It is difficult to attain and critical to cherish.
"Excellence is something you all possess and that many others do not," she said. "Once you have it, you can never let go of it, and as a warning - don't ever let go of it."
According to Ghanem, several elements create excellence, including passion, integrity, daring and responsibility.
"Passion is the ingredient that makes you want to do a good job, not for the recognition you might receive but purely for the sake of doing well," she said. "Once you have passion, doors open for you and recognition will come your way."
Regarding integrity, the main component is self-knowledge. Knowing oneself is the most challenging task in life, and a person must know his or her strengths, weaknesses and goals before moving ahead.
"Never lie to yourself, especially about yourself," said Ghanem, adding candor is the key to self-knowledge.
"Know your thoughts as well your actions and deal with them directly. You are your own raw material. When you know what you consist of and what you want to make of it, then you can invent yourself."
Ghanem also advised the recognized students to accept and learn from failure and continually ask, "Who am I?"
Among those honored were 35 recipients of "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges"; 18 recipients of the Academic Deans' Outstanding Service Award and three of the Dean of Students Leadership Award; student leaders from the Student Government Association, University Program Board, Bacchus and Gamma; and editors of "The Pan American" and "Panorama."
The honored "Who's Who" students are Antonio Aguirre Jr.; Eduardo Alaniz Jr.; Margarita Anguiano; Melissa Arjona; Joy D. Cain; Claudia Cajiri; Cynthia Cano; Sandy Cantu; Aracely Cavazos; Vito Chavana; Cody Colchado Jr.; Ariana M. de la Garza; Michelle Duran; Melissa A. García; Daniel R. Gibbs; Rebecca Gonzalez; Daniel P. Hawes; Kelley Allyn Heller; and Radovan Kuzet.
Also, Devin Brian Lacey; Reshma Lakhiani; Lucy T. Ledesma; Hector Luna; Marvin B.J. Manns II; Isaías R. Martínez; Elisabet Mateos; Eric Alan Nava; Kathryn O'Neil; Flor L. Peñuelas; Adam Rice; Tania Rivas-Chavez; Lisa Ann Serna-Sánchez; Asheré D. Thigpen; Elias Torres Jr.; and Qiang Zeng.