UHV recognizes student organizations, award winners in virtual ceremony

Tuesday night was a double celebration for the University of Houston-Victoria Multicultural Advisory Council because the group was officially chartered as a student organization and was named the Student Organization of the year.

The Multicultural Advisory Council hosts events throughout the year that range from international holiday celebrations such as Oktoberfest and Cinco de Mayo to leading awareness campaigns focused on issues related to topics such as race or gender.

Jaira Jenkins

“To be chartered and get such a prestigious award was doubly exciting for us,” said Jaira Jenkins, president of the group and a UHV sophomore. “We put a lot of effort into bringing people together no matter their race, gender or sexual identity, and it is gratifying to see our efforts have been recognized.”

UHV students, faculty and staff gathered for a virtual celebration Tuesday for the seventh annual UHV Student Organization and Leadership Celebration to announce new chartered student organizations and honor students and advisors who have made an impact on and off campus.

Hilary Kofron

“The past year has been so tough for everyone, including our students, but our student organizations have still succeeded in holding more than 130 events both virtually and on campus,” said Hilary Kofron, UHV Student Life director. “It’s been amazing to see all of our students come together to make it through the year in spite of the struggles we all faced. We’re happy to celebrate the students who worked so hard to make a positive impact.” 

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. In addition to MAC, Xi Alpha Rho and the Accounting Club – Katy received their charters.

The Student Volunteer of the Year was presented to Eli Juma, a UHV senior from Sabinal. Juma has been involved on campus in many different ways throughout the previous year. He works as a student director in UHV Student Life and was a member of the Student Government Association. But mostly, he just made sure he was available whenever something was needed. 

Eli Juma

“Receiving this award was such a shock, because I didn’t know people saw me that way,” Juma said. “It’s humbling to be nominated by my peers and see that my work has been seen and acknowledged. My goal is to serve and help others, and I always will when I can.”

Rosie McCusker, manager of student recruitment and outreach for the UHV School of Business Administration, was named the Advisor of the Year for her work advising the Business Student Association. The association connects students to professional organizations such as the Society for Human Resources Management, the Institute for Public Procurement and a UH System Ecosystem for entrepreneurs. The group also offers volunteering opportunities and partners with the UHV School of Business Administration Dean’s Advisory Board to host the Bridge to Brilliance online series.

Rosie McCusker

“The student organization Advisor of the Year award is a huge honor, and I am incredibly grateful for the nomination and opportunity to work with the dedicated students who make up the Business Student Association,” McCusker said. “My role is easy. I show up, listen, give small inputs, and watch as our students share ideas, communicate, lead and grow in confidence. I enjoy being a part of this organization which has grown to 62 members over the academic year.”

The Student Organization Member of the Year was awarded to Tiarah Figueroa, president of the UHV Student Government Association and a San Antonio junior. Throughout her term as president, the university has been in a difficult, unprecedented situation with limits on how many students can attend classes on campus and a shift to more online instruction and activities. Under Figueroa’s leadership, the association has worked hard to stay in touch with students and promote involvement in events and campus life. In addition, Figueroa has represented UHV’s students in new efforts and initiatives such as the university’s Race & Diversity Task Force.

Tiarah Figueroa

“This award is so meaningful because of all the things that we went through during the pandemic,” she said. “This shows that, rather than being unaware of or uninterested in SGA, students see our hard work and take our efforts to stay connected and create a positive campus experience seriously. I’m so thankful to everyone who stuck by me and mentored me.”

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 Daisy Maldonado-Cervantes of Dale, Jenkins, Jacquelyn Velazquez of Eagle Pass and Marilyn Medina of San Antonio.

In addition to the Spirit of the Jaguar scholarships, two UHV upperclassmen were awarded “I Am UHV” scholarships because of their strong leadership characteristics. The first-place prize of $750 was awarded to Sarah Stanaland of Jarrell. Lisa Seidenberger of Yoakum received the second-place prize of $500.

Sixteen students were recognized for earning ROAR Certified Leader certifications in one or more of four areas: communication, problem solving, social responsibility and teamwork. The students who completed all four areas earned the title of Distinguished ROAR Certified Leader. Three students who earned the distinguished title in 2019-2020 were Candace Kubecka of Edna, Eugene Krueger of Katy and Sara Alexander of Katy. A total of 11 students earned the title in 2020-2021 and two earned various certifications. They are:

  • Artee Shrestha, Katy
  • Claudio Quintero Smith, Katy
  • Felix De Jesus, Houston
  • Jeanniery Gonzalez, Katy
  • Jessica Anderson, Houston
  • Jocelyne Martinez, Austin
  • Justin Norman, Victoria
  • Kamylle Tan, Katy
  • Melissa Gonzalez, Point Comfort
  • Nora Spurlock, Houston
  • Stefanny Luna, Katy
  • Tammy Gregory, Victoria
  • Vicki Cerna-Bell, Sugar Land

Other award winners on Tuesday were:

  • Emerging Leader of the Year – Wendy Hughes, Victoria and Stefanny Luna, Katy
  • Leadership Legacy – Noemi Bustamante, Houston
  • Quiet Influencer – Frederica Amfo, Katy
  • Campus Humanitarian of the Year – Jose Jimenez, Houston
  • Student Employee Excellence Award – Bryan Sturm, UHV Library, Victoria; Kristin Vela, UHV Help Desk, Katy
  • Student Government Member of the Year – Molly Duke, Victoria
  • SGA Staff Member of the Year – Ash Walyuchow, Athletics director
  • SGA Faculty Member of the Year – Justin Bell, associate professor in philosophy and director of the Honors Program

In addition, Figueroa gave her farewell address as the 2020-2021 UHV Student Government Association president.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs 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, Texas, 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.