UHV recognizes students, award winners during banquet
For Sarah Stanaland, the University of Houston-Victoria Association of Future Advocates, Leaders and Lawyers receiving the Student Organization of the Year award during the annual Student Organization and Leadership Banquet was a culmination of all the work the group has done since September 2020.
Throughout the year, the group has started a mentorship program, a Law School Admission Test study group, connected with local and state political candidates and brought to campus representatives from two Texas law schools. The award was a surprise but also made the day much more special, as the group was officially charted as a UHV student organization as well.
“It has been a long time in the making,” said Stanaland, a UHV political science and pre-law senior from Odessa and the group’s president. “The students who have come together to make this possible and the support from faculty and Student Life has been overwhelming. We have made so many connections with the student body and within the community, and truly united a community of students who are interested in the legal system and criminal justice. I think AFALL has a bright future, and its members are going places.”
About 100 UHV students, faculty and staff members gathered in person and virtually May 3 in the UHV University North Multi-Purpose Room for the ninth annual UHV Student Organization and Leadership Banquet to honor students, advisors and newly charted organizations. This is the first time the banquet has been held in person since 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the banquet was canceled, and the awards ceremony took place virtually.
“This banquet is a culmination of a year’s worth of hard work by our student leaders, organizations, staff and faculty,” said Hilary Kofron, UHV Student Life director. “We are so proud of all our student organizations and leaders who make positive impacts to our campus every day, and UHV is very lucky to have each of them.”
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 AFALL, Gamma Alpha Nu, the Gender & Sexuality Alliance and the Poetry Collective student organizations received their charters.
The Student Organization Member of the Year award was presented to Kristian Pulido, a UHV sophomore computer information systems major from Katy. The award recognizes a student leader who provided exemplary service, commitment and strong leadership to a student organization. Pulido leads the Victoria STEAM Alliance, a UHV student organization that involves science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics activities. Pulido helped to revive the formerly inactive group during the academic year with the goals of outreach into the Victoria community and to compete in STEAM-related competitions, including the National Cyber League and the collegiate VEX Robotics Competition, called VEX U.
“I feel like receiving this award is a good omen for this group,” Pulido said. “It’s the beginning of a lot of great things for the Victoria STEAM Alliance.”
Eleven students were recognized for earning ROAR Certified Leaders certifications in one or more of the following areas: communication, problem solving, social responsibility and teamwork. Seven of these students completed all four certifications, earning them Distinguished ROAR Certified Leaders.
Students who earned ROAR Certified Leadership certifications were:
- Jaime Herran La Torre
- Linh Le
- Roberto Maldonado
- Temprance Nevels
Students who earned Distinguished ROAR Certified Leaders certifications were:
- Cassandra Alexander
- Christopher Payne
- Jamila Bahra
- Kathaleenda Dees
- Sarika Khilnani
- Shelbie Ayala
- Yemi Adewumi
Humberto Hernandez, a UHV assistant professor of biology, was named the Advisor of the Year for his work with the Pre-Health Student Association and the Hispanic Student Association. The Pre-Health Student Association helps students who are preparing for health-related careers, including graduate and medical school. The group has partnered with public schools in the area to help mentor students with science projects and presenting at Career Day at Smith STEM Academy Elementary School. The Hispanic Student Association is open to all students who want to help raise awareness of Hispanic cultures on campus and in the UHV community.
“I am very honored to receive this award, and it means so much to me because it came from the students,” Hernandez said. “As advisors, we spend time outside of the classroom in meetings to help students get to where they want to be with the organization and also guide them on the right path for their careers. I am just so honored that the students chose me.”
The Student Government Association also presented awards to students. The Spirit of the Jaguar Award recognizes underclassmen who display integrity and respect, are actively involved at UHV and encompass what it means to be a Jaguar. The recipients of this award also will receive a $300 scholarship from SGA for the fall semester. This year, the award was presented to Jorge Deza Nunez, Julie Martinez and Trisanya Dennie.
In addition, three UHV upperclassmen received the “I Am UHV” award, which is similar to the Spirit of the Jaguar award but recognizes upperclassmen. The winners of the “I Am UHV” award will also receive a $300 scholarship from SGA. The awards were presented to Alma Gutierrez, Christopher Payne and Gabrielle Castillo.
Another award presented at the banquet is the Campus Humanitarian of the Year award. This award is presented to an individual who helps UHV to be a more welcoming, safe and inclusive environment. The recipient will also receive a $500 scholarship from SGA for the fall semester. This year, the award was presented to Jaira Jenkins.
Other award winners on Tuesday were:
- Emerging Leader of the Year – Kai Martinez
- Leadership Legacy Award – Dominic Flores
- Quiet Influencer Award – Zoe Espinoza and Zheng “Lorraine” Yap
- Student Employee Excellence Awards – Francisco Cruz Martinez, Omer Bashir and Hailey Crow
- Student Volunteer of the Year – Jamile Bahra
- Student Government Member of the Year – Aisha Raji
- SGA Staff Member of the Year – Hannah Moss
- SGA Faculty Member of the year – Saeed Janani
Tiarah Figueroa gave her farewell address as the 2021-2022 SGA President and Kai Martinez, the incoming SGA president for 2022-2023, gave her welcome address. Her term begins June 6.
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.