Outstanding business students ready for next step in careers

After more than a year of courses, assignments, tests and hours studying, Saima Bagha will finally have her graduate degree from the University of Houston-Victoria this month.

What she didn’t expect was to be recognized for all her hard work. Bagha, of Houston, recently was named the Spring 2021 Outstanding Graduate Student for the UHV School of Business Administration. Jessica Janis of Inez was named the Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the school.

Each semester, faculty from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UHV has postponed its 2021 in-person graduation ceremonies until it is safe to gather. The university will host a virtual commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. May 15 that will be webcast on the UHV Facebook page and the university’s graduation website at

Saima Bagha

Bagha, who was born in Kenya, will graduate with her Strategic Master of Business Administration in Accounting and plans to take the CPA exam. She has the equivalent of a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from the United Kingdom. Bagha worked at a CPA firm in Kenya from 2003 to 2008, and then moved to Houston, where she worked as a consultant from 2009-2018.

“It is a little overwhelming being named an Outstanding Student, but it has been pretty exciting for me, and reflects the very positive experience with the faculty, too,” she said. “It was a nice surprise, and it feels awesome to be recognized.”

Bagha decided to get her MBA to help with her career prospects and prepare to become a CPA. She enrolled at UHV in January 2019, and just a few months later, she would share a learning space with her three young children when the coronavirus pandemic caused schools to shift to virtual learning. Bagha would divide up her day and do her schoolwork a couple of hours in the morning and at night after her children went to bed so that she could help her children with school during the day.

Through the past two years, Bagha has risen to the challenges and was able to keep a high GPA. She found the accounting and tax accounting courses to be a great build up to understand the CPA exam and help her in her future as a CPA. She also was a member of a team that tied for first place in the UHV MBA Case Conference this month. Bagha had a great experience at UHV, and she appreciates all the help she received from the business faculty.

Peggy Cloninger

“Saima was an exemplary student who scored well in all aspects of the course,” said Peggy Cloninger, a UHV professor of management who taught Bagha in a business course. “While many students can do well on quizzes or exams, Saima also could apply theory and concepts to complex, real-life business cases, and could engage and explain ideas in discussions online with classmates.”

Bagha would like to work in the accounting department of an oil and gas company or in health care accounting. She thanks all her professors, who have each served as guides for all her courses, and her family for their support. Her three children, ages 6-10, have been patient with her when she had schoolwork or exams. Her husband, Mohamed, has been her backbone and main support throughout her journey to get her MBA, she said.

“It’s been a pleasure,” she said. “It has been challenging but it has also been a lot of fun. Next, I plan to pursue my CPA and apply the skills I learned at UHV to advance my professional career.”

Jessica Janis also was shocked and pleased to be named the Outstanding Undergraduate Student. She will graduate with her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. During her time at UHV, Janis has kept a high GPA and was named to the President’s List several times, and plans to graduate with summa cum laude honors.

“I am amazed that I received this incredible honor,” Janis said. “I try to do the best that I can in all my work, and it’s really nice to be recognized for that.”

Jessica Janis

Janis is an Inez native who grew up in the Victoria area. After she graduated from Crossroads Christian High School in 2016, she decided to stay in Victoria and started taking classes part time at Victoria College. When she transferred to UHV in fall 2019, she was determined to graduate by the spring of 2021, and began to fully concentrate on school. She became a full-time student and dedicated hours of her days to classes, studying and school work.

Janis has been a student of numbers for as long as she can remember. The subject of math, or anything that had to do with math, was always a strong area for her, but it wasn’t until her senior year of high school when a teacher suggested she pursue accounting that she realized that she wanted a career that involved math. As someone who has always been interested in accounting and taxes, Janis decided to pursue an accounting degree.

She enjoyed all her accounting courses and had a class schedule that allowed her to have certain days full of classes and other days where she had more time to do coursework and study. Janis found that having a quiet space helped her concentrate, and she advises other students to try that when they study, especially when living at home with family members. She also advises students to not be afraid to ask faculty members for help when going over a difficult subject in class.

Danny Chiang

“Ms. Jessica Janis is brilliant, diligent and self-motivated,” said Danny Chiang, an associate professor of accounting. “Her academic achievement significantly outperforms her peers. Her analytic ability is so excellent that she could identify, address, and solve complicated issues within a relatively short period of time. Two months ago, the accounting faculty recommended her for the recipient of the 2021 Accounting Excellence Award, honored by the TXCPA Accounting Education Foundation. She could be a great accountant in the near future.”

After she graduates, Janis plans to apply to different jobs within the accounting field, including working with taxes and banking. She would like to stay in the Victoria area close to her family, who are important in her life and a top priority. Janis is thankful to her family for their support and encouragement during her time at UHV and appreciates that her mom was her personal cheerleader each semester and would say prayers for her daughter.

“I couldn’t do this by myself,” Janis said. “I am so grateful for the help and support from my family and the help from my teachers in school.”

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.

Amber Aldaco