Nine business school students honored at first VIP Stars event April 17
Posted: 04/23/2009
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To recognize undergraduate students who are achieving not only academically but also in the areas of values, initiative and professionalism, The University of Texas-Pan American College of Business Administration hosted its first VIP Stars banquet April 17 for the nine students chosen for the 2008-2009 academic school year.

According to Dr. Teofilo Ozuna, dean of the College of Business Administration, to be considered, applicants for the VIP Star award had to be a business major with at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA and 60 credit hours, of which 30 were taken at UTPA. Other factors considered in their selection were participation in UTPA and community service activities, receipt of other recognitions and awards and an essay on examples of how their values, initiative and professionalism guided their actions. The final selection was made by a committee of College of Business Administration faculty members.

Dean of the College of Business Administration Dr. Teofilo Ozuna (left) is pictured presenting the VIP Star award to John Paul Mariano, a student chosen as a VIP Star in the Department of Computer Information Systems. Mariano was one of nine business majors chosen as VIP Star honorees.
"We wanted to develop a way to better recognize our students' accomplishments in the College of Business Administration. This award does not just look at the academic side, which needs to be strong, but also this other side which relates to their values, for example, of integrity, honesty and respect, being able to take initiative, and being professional about how they do things. That fits right into what companies are looking for our students to do. These are business stars for the future," Ozuna said.

Students honored as VIP Star Students were Ana L. Ramirez and Sylvia Cantu, Accounting; Vanessa Tanguma and John Paul Mariano, Computer Information Systems; Arturo Alaniz III, International Business; David Quevedo, Management; Andres Bello, Economics; Lily Ayimah-Gyamfi, Finance; and Deanna Schneyer, Marketing.

Also honored at the event were those business majors selected by the college's faculty in each College of Business Administration department as outstanding students. They included Karla V. Garcia, Accounting; Vanessa Tanguma, Computer Information Systems; Andres Bello, Economics; Alma Caso, Finance; Yanira Ramos, Marketing; Violeta Davila, Management; and Arturo Alaniz III, International Business.

Additionally, a faculty retirement honoree - Dr. George Avellano, professor in the Department of Management, Marketing and International Business - was recognized at the banquet as well as current faculty or staff mentors Dr. Punit Alhuwalia and Dr. Jerald Hughes, Computer Information Systems; Dr. Dave Jackson and Dr. Gökce Soydemir, Finance; Dr. John Darcy, Accounting and Business Law; Dr. Marie Mora, Economics; Handan Vicdan, Marketing; Dr. Siben Wu, Management; Victor Huerta, Center for Advisement, Recruitment, Internship and Retention director; and Blanca Robles, professional guidance counselor.

R. David Guerra, president and CEO of International Bank of Commerce-McAllen and UTPA Foundation Board of Directors member, served as the keynote speaker at the first VIP Stars Award banquet April 17 honoring selected undergraduate business majors at UTPA.
R. David Guerra, president and CEO of International Bank of Commerce-McAllen and UTPA Foundation Board of Directors member, served as the keynote speaker for the audience of honored students and their parents and shared his advice on the qualities the students need to demonstrate in the professional, real world to be successful and praised the students his company has employed.

"The business students that we (IBC) have hired from UTPA are very well prepared and have been very successful. We are happy with them," he said.

John Paul Mariano, chosen as a VIP Star in the Department of Computer Information Systems, said this recognition made him feel very motivated. A seven year military veteran originally from the Philippines, Mariano came to UTPA from Hawaii on a transfer scholarship and hopes to one day have a career in law enforcement or security information technology, perhaps with the FBI. He said the quality of having strong values recognized by this award was instilled in him as a soldier.

"Without values, everything you do is in question," said Mariano, who is also a member of the academic honorary societies Phi Theta Kappa and Beta Gamma Sigma.

The programs in the UTPA College of Business Administration are fully accredited by the AACSB International, The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The college, which had a fall 2008 enrollment close to 3,000 students in its undergraduate, master's and doctoral programs, is ranked 18th for top business schools for Hispanic students in the United States (Hispanic Business, 2008).

For more information on programs in the College of Business Administration, go to