Top Arts & Sciences students to pursue research opportunities

As University of Houston-Victoria student Aarushi Kumar was preparing for her graduation and a visit from her mother and brother who live in India, she was surprised and overjoyed to learn that in addition to receiving her degree, she would receive another honor.

Aarushi Kumar

Kumar, an international student from Bangalore, India, was named the Spring 2019 Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. Frank Jalufka of Yoakum was named the school’s Outstanding Graduate Student.

Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. UHV will hold two spring graduation ceremonies on May 18 at Faith Family Church, 2002 E. Mockingbird Lane. The 9 a.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the schools of Arts & Sciences and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. The 1 p.m. ceremony will be for graduates of the School of Business Administration. A live-streaming broadcast of the ceremonies will be available at

Jeffrey Di Leo

“Aarushi and Frank have shown an inspiring commitment to excellence in their studies,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the school. “They each have exciting aspirations to continue their education, and I wish them the best as they set out to make their goals reality.”

Kumar transferred to UHV in spring 2017 from an Australian university and on May 18 will receive her Bachelor of Science in biology. During her time at UHV, she was part of the Honors Program and had the opportunity to conduct research and present her findings. In April, she participated in the Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin.

“Joining the Honors Program really pushed me to continue researching,” Kumar said. “Going to the Capitol was a great opportunity to see what kinds of research other schools are doing and how ours measured up to statewide projects. It was an inspiring experience.”

Research is something that interests Jalufka, as well. The Yoakum High School chemistry teacher will receive his Master of Science in biomedical sciences next week and is planning to enroll in a doctoral program in biology next semester at Texas A&M University, where he previously earned his bachelor’s degree.

“My dream job is to become a college professor at a research university,” he said. “I have loved teaching at the high school level, but I missed the opportunity to work in a lab. In an academic setting, I would be able to satisfy both of my passions.”

Jalufka enrolled in UHV’s program because the proximity of the university to his hometown, and the flexible class schedule allowed him to earn his degree while he was teaching full time. Now, as he prepares to graduate and begin attending classes in College Station, he is grateful for the words of wisdom and support from his professors.

“I would like to thank my thesis advisor, Hashimul Ehsan, and Gen Kaneko for teaching me and helping me throughout my experience with my thesis project, as well as Daniel White for pushing me to be the best I could when I didn’t especially believe in myself,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been accepted into the doctoral program at Texas A&M.” 

Once she graduates, Kumar plans to take a gap year to work on her graduate school applications and find a job as a research assistant in the Houston area.

“I want to go to medical school, and getting some more research experience will help my application,” she said.

In addition to research projects, Kumar also was involved in student organizations, including the International Student Organization. She also was a student worker in UHV Admissions for a year and Student Life for another year.

“Working in Student Life gave me the opportunity to learn about different activities on campus and get involved,” she said. “I’ve made some amazing friends at UHV. Because I’m an international student and my family is so far away, my friends and the International Programs staff have become a second family for me at UHV.”

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.