Outstanding students - both in and out of the classroom - took center stage April 10 during the 32nd Annual Awards and Recognition Convocation at The University of Texas-Pan American.
Forty-three students were joined by their parents, family members, and friends as well as top University administrators, deans, and faculty at a banquet where they were recognized for their academic accomplishments and contributions to the University and the community.
Nelsen, however, said the real "V.I.P.'s" of the night were their guests.
"Madres, padres, abuelitas y abuelitos, tías, husbands and wives, and significant others ... the mentors and hand-holders-these special people sitting beside you are responsible for your recognition today," he said. "Your determination, your ambition, your resolve, in other words, your ganas came from them."
Nelsen also gave the students some advice for the future. He encouraged them to be lifelong learners and to celebrate their culture and heritage, which he said has become important to companies as they seek diversity in their workforce. He also asked them to seek greatness and success on their own terms and not to think of it in terms of money or fame.
"Often the most important people ... are the people who earn the least but they are the people who reach out and help others," Nelsen said.
Nelsen said as they moved forward in their careers and lives, he hoped they will give back to their community and the University.
"You must reach out always to let others recognize and realize their dreams, the same way your professors, your mentors, and your family have helped you," he said.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez presented the college deans or their representatives to announce the three students in each of UTPA's seven colleges who were recognized with the Academic Dean's Outstanding Student Award. All the recipients of this award were nominated by faculty. The recipients, all undergraduate students, unless noted, were as follows:
• College of Arts and Humanities: Jorge A. Contreras, Graduate Student, Theatre; Orquidea Morales, Interdisciplinary Studies - Spanish; and David Abraham Moreno, Music.
• College of Business Administration: Mayra Lizeth Espinal, Marketing; Alejandro J. Tapia Farias, Economics; and Paula Hinojosa, Computer Information Systems.
• College of Education: Juliana B. Cepeda, Interdisciplinary Studies - Curriculum and Instruction; Manuel M. Villarreal, Interdisciplinary Studies - Curriculum and Instruction; and Maria E. Villarreal, Kinesiology.
• College of Engineering and Computer Science: Iris Alvarado, Mechanical Engineering; Jesus Rivera, Computer Engineering; and Beny O. Vasquez Zapata, Electrical Engineering.
• College of Health Sciences and Human Services: Maria M. Barrera, Graduate Student, Rehabilitation Counseling; Yvette T. Soza, Graduate Student, Occupational Therapy; and Ronald S. Yang, Clinical Laboratory Science.
• College of Science and Mathematics: Ashley Bose, Chemistry (Pre-Med); Orlando Esparza, Biology (Pre-Med); and David Medina, Mathematics.
• College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Vanessa L. Alvarez, Psychology; Belinda Lopez, Criminal Justice; and Valeria Rodriguez, Psychology.
Three students were recognized with the Dean of Students Outstanding Student Leadership Award by Dr. Calvin Phillips, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students. The award recognizes students who have contributed significantly to the quality of campus life at Pan Am, particularly through volunteer student representation, committee involvement, or leadership in the area of student organizations, residence life or athletics. Students given this honor were Peter J. Ehimika, who has a B.S. in biology and currently working on his Master of Arts in Communication; Kathryn Ramirez, undergraduate student majoring in communication sciences and disorders; and Amanda Sandoval, who has a B.S. from the rehabilitative services program and is now pursuing a second bachelor's degree in biology.
Five students who were selected to participate in the prestigious Bill Archer Fellowship Program, which is facilitated by the Office of Career Services, were also recognized. Archer Fellows, who are selected as the "best and brightest" from The University of Texas System schools, are able to work and study in Washington, D.C., where they participate in courses on policy, economics and advocacy and intern in places like the United Nations, the White House, U. S. Department of Defense and other agencies. Fall 2010 participants were Karla Cantu, Alexander Kamel, and Abel Villarreal Jr. Spring 2011 participants, currently in Washington, D.C, are Mikson Ehimika and Mario "Alex" Mendiola.
Recipients of one of the most prestigious collegiate awards given over the past 77 years in the United States - Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges - were also recognized. This award is bestowed on outstanding students based on scholarship, participation, leadership, citizenship, service to the University and community and their potential for future achievement. The following (with their area of study) are the 14 UTPA Who's Who award recipients:
• Anthony Beltran, Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology
• Cynthia Leticia Cantu-Gamez, Bachelor of Science in biology (Pre-Med)
• Bernardo Diaz, Master of Science in Accounting
• Melinda Flores, Bachelor of Science in Biology (Pre-Med)
• Stephanie Gintanarat Gallegos, Bachelor of Science in Biology (Pre-Med)
• Daniela Garza, Bachelor of Science in Biology (Pre-Med)
• Cynthia Ann Gonzalez, Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling
• Elaine Muñoz, Master of Business Administration in Management
• Amanda Perez, Bachelor of Arts in Communication
• Erika Perez, Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling
• Valeria Rodriguez, Bachelor of Science in Psychology
• Yolanda Rodriguez, Bachelor of Science in Psychology
• Oluwaseun Samuel Oremosu, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering
• Abel Villarreal Jr., Bachelor of Science in Philosophy