Top students are the stars at annual awards convocation
Posted: 04/16/2012
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Like father, like son was very apparent for one family attending the 33rd Annual Awards and Recognition Convocation April 15 to honor outstanding students at The University of Texas-Pan American.

UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen (rear center) is pictured amid students who were honored for their academic accomplishments and service to the University and community at the 33rd Annual Awards and Recognition Convocation April 15.
Victor Moran (BS, government, '77) proudly held up his 1976-77 Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities membership card after his son David Moran, a master's in public administration student, was recognized at the event for his selection 35 years later into the same organization - one of the most prestigious collegiate award recognition programs in the United States.

"It's special," said Victor, who headed the Baptist Student Union, was a student senator, and an intern for the city of Weslaco while at Pan Am. He now heads the private equity firm Moran Enterprises, Inc. based in Houston, where David grew up.

David, who earned his bachelor's degree in history from Texas A&M University (his father earned his MBA there), is currently an active duty commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps at the Armed Forces Reserve Training Center in Harlingen and despite a full-time job, has excelled academically and been active in various public administration professional organizations while at UTPA.

"I've asked him (his dad) what it was like 38 years ago when he was here," joked David, who decided to enroll while stationed here and after graduation in 2013 intends to gain some public service experience before joining his family's business. "Attending Pan Am was a no-brainer because both my parents came here. I love the Valley."

David was among 39 students whose academic accomplishments, service to the campus and community and leadership were applauded by their families and friends, as well as UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen, Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Martha Cantu, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez and other top University administrators and academic deans.

"I have tremendous pride in these students. They are our future and they are going to take us to new levels where we have never dreamed of being," said Nelsen, who also thanked the families for their role in the students success.

Three students in each of the seven academic colleges at the University received the Academic Deans' Outstanding Student Award. Recipients are nominated by the faculty in the students' respective disciplines. The award acknowledges the students' academic accomplishments as well as their contributions to the University and the community. The recipients, all undergraduate students unless noted, were:

College of Arts and Humanities: Abel Ocañas, Music; Eric Stinson, Philosophy; and Nadia Tamez-Robledo, Communication-Mass Communication.

College of Business Administration: Pablo Jose A. Escobedo, Marketing; Katherine M. Hoy, Economics; and Sara K. Ray, Economics.

College of Education: Erika B. Garza, English-Secondary Teacher Certification; Eugenia M. Hernandez, doctoral student, Educational Leadership; and Joanna L. Waggoner, master's student, Reading.

College of Engineering and Computer Science: Laura C. Aguilar, Computer Engineering; Cynthia V. Barros, Manufacturing Engineering; and Alin Chipara, Mechanical Engineering.

College of Health Sciences and Human Services: Julio Bravo, master's student, Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner; Mariela Ontiveros, Clinical Laboratory Sciences; and Alejandro Vasquez, Clinical Laboratory Sciences.

College of Science and Mathematics: Randee S. Beglin, Mathematics; Dina D. Cardenas, Chemistry; and Stephanie Rico, Biology.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Michaela I. Mancini, Criminal Justice; Norma E. Rodriguez, Psychology and Philosophy; and Yolanda Rodriguez, Psychology.

Three students were presented with the Dean of Students' Outstanding Student Leadership Award, which recognizes students who have contributed significantly to the quality of campus life, particularly through their voluntary student representation, committee involvement or leadership in the area of student organizations, residence life or athletics. Recipients were Ginger R. Garza, Cooperative Pre-Pharmacy Program; Eduardo Medellin, Biology-Premed; and Julio C. Oyervides, Electrical Engineering.

Besides David Moran, 14 other students were highlighted for their selection into Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, a recognition given to outstanding students based on scholarship, participation, leadership, citizenship, service to their university and community and their potential for future achievement.

Other Who's Who recipients (including their area of study) were:

Maria Barrera - Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling

Monique T. Cano - Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology

Lizeth A. Cantu - Master of Education in Educational Administration

Stephanie Corte - Bachelor of Arts in Communication-Mass Communication

Ariel A. Cruz - Cooperative Pre-Pharmacy Program

Ariel Davila - Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies Composite

George D. Galindo - Bachelor of Arts in English-Secondary Teacher Certification

Madison N. Ngafeeson - Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration

Brittany R. Pena - Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Jessica L. Peña - Bachelor of Arts in Theater

Rubi E. Perez - Bachelor of Science in Biology-Pre Medical

Lino Ramirez - Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Vicente Valle - Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

Xujun Zhang - Master of Science in Chemistry