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UHV celebrates year of student organization success with banquet

The executive officers of Jaguar Esports pose for a photo Tuesday with UHV President Bob Glenn, left, after the organization was named the UHV Student Organization of the Year during the university’s sixth annual Student Organization and Leadership Banquet. Standing with Glenn, from left, are Randall Jasek of Palacios, president; Kevin Madrid of Odessa, team coordinator; and Luis Cigarroa of Los Indios, treasurer.

At first glance, the students in Jaguar Esports might just seem like a bunch of people playing video games, but the members of this year’s University of Houston-Victoria Student Organization of the Year use their love of gaming to do much more.

During the 2018-2019 school year, Jaguar Esports hosted and coordinated video game tournaments at UHV and in the community to encourage students to come together, have fun, develop leadership skills and meet others from all walks of life, said Randall Jasek, a UHV junior from Palacios and president of the club.

“Getting this award was so surprising and great,” Jasek said. “A lot of times what we do as an organization seems to go unnoticed, but somebody took notice. It’s good to know that our efforts to reach other students and the community have made an impact.”

About 140 UHV students, faculty and staff gathered in the UHV University North Multi-Purpose Room Tuesday for the sixth annual UHV Student Organization and Leadership Banquet to announce new chartered student organizations and honor students and advisors who have made an impact on and off campus.

Hilary Kofron

“This has been an amazing year with so many impactful, exciting events,” said Hilary Kofron, UHV Student Life director. “With so many strong student leaders and volunteers, it’s important for us to take the time to thank them for their hard work and acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond to make UHV a great university with a vibrant Student Life culture.”

To become a chartered organization, a group must have at least five members, three of whom must be officers with a minimum 2.5 grade-point average, and a UHV faculty or staff advisor. The students also must write a constitution and submit a charter application. During the ceremony, 10 student organizations received their charters:

  • 911 Yoga
  • Christians of Campus
  • Creative Writing Association
  • FASHION!
  • Jaguar Cubers
  • jaX Press
  • K-Pop Club
  • Playwriting Association
  • UHV Film Club
  • Walkie Talkie Journalist

The Student Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Shelbie Ayala from Beeville. The award is given to a student who has shown outstanding dedication to the Victoria and UHV communities through service and volunteering. Ayala took part in several volunteering opportunities this year, including the Alternative Spring Break trip to Biloxi, Miss. Receiving the award Tuesday was especially meaningful for the UHV junior because it was her birthday. 

Shelbie Ayala

“I’m so happy and grateful for this recognition,” Ayala said. “UHV has so many students who are passionate about volunteering and getting involved. It’s hard work, but it’s wonderful to help people and find joy while doing it.”

Yvonne Garcia, UHV international student coordinator, was named the Advisor of the Year for the positive impact she has made working with two different student organizations: the International Student Organization and the African Student Association. As an advisor, Garcia works to make sure her students have access to resources as well as the tools and guidance they need to accomplish their goals. Part of being a good advisor for these groups is taking the time to listen to the students and make sure they understand the pros and cons of their ideas and decisions, Garcia said.

Yvonne Garcia

“I’m so humbled and surprised to receive this award,” she said. “There are so many good advisors. The fact that this came from the students makes it mean so much more.”

Another group of students who received recognition were the recipients of the Spirit of the Jaguar Award. This award recognizes integrity, citizenship, academics and respect, and recipients also are given a $500 scholarship. This year, the award was presented to Makayla Hare of San Antonio, Keiundra Jones of Fort Worth, Elizabeth Matula of Telferner, Vladyslav Shapoval of Ukraine, and Devin Taubert of Harlingen.

In addition to the Spirit of the Jaguar scholarships, three UHV upperclassmen were awarded “I Am UHV” scholarships because of their strong leadership characteristics. The first-place prize of $1,500 was awarded to Brittany Bohr of Fort Worth. Kiyanna Coleman of Katy received the second-place prize of $1,000, and Rylee Morrow of Edna was given the third-place prize of $500.

Three students were recognized for earning ROAR Certified Leader certifications in one or more of four areas: communication, problem solving, social responsibility and teamwork. Marissa Cervantes of San Antonio and Jesse Gonzales of Houston both completed all four leadership certifications, which earned them the title of Distinguished ROAR Certified Leaders. In addition, Sophia Solano of San Antonio completed the communication and teamwork certifications.

Other award winners on Tuesday were:

  • Emerging Leader of the Year – Efrain Vazquez, Pharr
  • Leadership Legacy – Deshavian Williams, Wharton
  • Quiet Influencer – Yesenia Gutierrez, Palacios
  • Campus Humanitarian of the Year – Tiarah Figueroa of San Antonio
  • Student Employee Excellence Award – Max Ferguson, UHV Help Desk, Austin; Cesar Gonzalez, Residence Life and Student Life, Rosenberg; Abrisha Spencer, Counseling Center, Beeville; Keir Walker, Financial Aid, Victoria
  • Student Government Member of the Year – JoAnn Benavente, Sugar Land
  • Student Organization Member of the Year – Stephanie Tello, Victoria
  • Staff Member of the Year – Cherlyn Hodge, Student Success coach
  • Faculty Member of the Year – Jennifer Ortiz Garza, a lecturer in psychology

In addition to awards, Deshavian Williams of Wharton gave his farewell remarks as the 2018-2019 Student Government Association president and installed the next group of officers. Christopher McDonald of San Antonio will begin his term as the association’s president on June 3.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.