Two UHV alumni to be recognized at alumni banquet
University of Houston-Victoria alumni Bishop Gary Janak and Loveth Ohenhen have at least one thing in common: a passion to help others as much as they can. Now, the two alumni will be honored during the 2022 UHV Alumni Awards Banquet.
Janak, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, will receive the 2022 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Ohenhen, a systems engineer at Dell Technologies in Atlanta, will receive the Young Alumnus of the Year Award.
The two alumni will be recognized during the banquet, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. April 22 in the UHV University North Multi-Purpose Room, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The banquet is a part of UHV Homecoming Week from April 18-23. Tickets for the event are $15 per person, which includes catered dinner, a beer and wine reception, door prizes, an awards presentation for Janak and Ohenhen and entertainment featuring comedian and magician Robby Bennett. Alumni, their friends and family, and community supporters are encouraged to attend the banquet.
“This is a great event celebrating our two honorees as well as all of our alumni,” said Kelsey Norgard, UHV director of alumni relations and annual giving. “It’s nice to see everyone come together and celebrate their alma mater, network with their fellow alumni and community members, and celebrate how far the university has come.”
This is the first time a religious leader has received the UHV Distinguished Alumnus Award, as well as the first time an international alumnus has received the Young Alumnus Award, said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to a UHV graduate whose accomplishments, character and service are exceptional and represent the ideals and values of his or her alma mater. The Young Alumnus of the Year is presented to a UHV graduate who is younger than 40 and is distinctly accomplished professionally or in service to others.
“These two wonderful alumni are indicative of the diverse student population we have here at UHV and the broad impact a degree from UHV has,” Pisors said. “Bishop Gary has done tremendous work helping parishioners and the people of the Victoria and San Antonio areas. Loveth, since graduating with her degree, has helped so many international students at UHV through promoting scholarship. We are so proud and honored to call Bishop Gary and Loveth UHV alumni.”
Janak, of Palacios, grew up and served in the Crossroads area. He received a Bachelor of Arts in history in 1983 from the College of Santa Fe in Santa Fe, New Mexico and graduated in 1988 with a Master of Divinity from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. In 1995, he received a licentiate in canonical jurisprudence from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He received a Master of Education in counseling in 1997 from UHV and in 2000, became a licensed professional counselor by the State of Texas.
Janak was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Victoria in 1988 and was assigned as parochial vicar of The Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory in Victoria until 1990. He then served as pastor in residence from 1990-1994 at Our Lady of Lourdes in Victoria and as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Yoakum from 1994-2003. In 2003, he served as pastor for 10 years at St. Philip the Apostle Church in El Campo before serving as rector for the Cathedral of Our Lady of Victory. In February 2021, Pope Francis named Janak auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. His Mass of episcopal ordination took place on April 20 at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in San Antonio.
Additionally, Janak’s official appointments include chancellor of the Diocese of Victoria, Vicar General for the Diocese of Victoria, and he is the founder of the Emmaus Center in Victoria. He previously served on various boards, including the board for Hospice of South Texas and the St. Joseph Catholic High School Board of Trustees. He also served as chaplain for the Knights of Columbus councils in Victoria, Yoakum and El Campo, and for the Victoria Police Department.
Janak’s UHV journey started about a decade after he became a priest, when he noticed that the counseling needs of his parishioners, as well as non-Catholics, were becoming greater. While priests receive some training in counseling, Janak was starting to feel the limitations of his skills as more turned to him for help with challenges from stress, anxiety and depression. At the time, his younger sister was a student at UHV studying to become a school counselor, and Janak was interested in the idea of taking some counseling courses. After meeting with Mary Natividad, a UHV counseling professor, he was inspired to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.
He immediately was able to use what he was learning in his classes in his work as a pastor. During his time as a graduate student, UHV did not offer online courses yet, and Janak would drive to Victoria from Yoakum to attend class. He is thankful that UHV is “down the street” and offers counseling courses in the Crossroads area and is grateful to the counseling faculty who helped him prepare for the licensing board exam. Janak credits every UHV faculty and staff member and UHV supporter that has worked with and at the university since its inception, as having a university in the Crossroads area has been such a gift in his life and in the lives of all the alumni.
“I am undeserving of this recognition, and I accept it only with the understanding that there are so many people who are responsible for me receiving it, including my parents, as they encouraged my siblings and myself to pursue a college education,” Janak said. “Higher education changed our family tree, and UHV has helped so many in the Victoria area change their family trees as well. I celebrate with all those who stand with me in promoting educational endeavors.”
Loveth Ohenhen is a UHV alumna from Nigeria. She received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2014 from Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria, and in 2018, received a Master of Science in computer information systems at UHV. Since 2019, she has worked at Dell Technologies, first in Massachusetts and now in Atlanta. Ohenhen is thankful to the faculty, staff and students she worked with during the computer information systems program. She expressed working with the virtual reality and robotics research program, supervised by Alireza Tavakkoli, an associate professor of computer science, was one of the highlights of her graduate studies experience at UHV. She was active in student organizations and campus life, including helping to create the International Student Organization in 2016 and participating in the UHV International Festival. That same year, the organization was officially chartered and received the Student Organization of the Year award. In 2018, Ohenhen received the Student Organization Member of the Year award during the UHV Student Organization and Leadership Banquet and the Outstanding International Graduate Student Award during the International Sash Ceremony
Ohenhen felt an immediate connection to UHV and knew the university was the place for her, bolstered by an exciting admission process through UHV International Programs. The International Programs staff helped Ohenhen feel so welcomed and supported, she said. Ohenhen felt UHV was another home for her, and almost right away wanted to help other international students feel at home and help other students and the community learn more about the different countries and cultures represented on campus.
That drive to help international students did not end when she graduated from the university. She helped create the UHV International Alumni Scholarship in 2020, a fund to help international students attending UHV. The scholarship fund has been one of the top programs to receive the most funds for the past couple of years during the annual Giving Tuesday campaign. During the 2020 campaign, she garnered support from 39 donors from around the world for the scholarship fund. When Ohenhen was a UHV student, she received unexpected scholarships, which she appreciated. She enjoys giving back to the university that helped her feel at home, and still works with and appreciates the support of International Programs and UHV University Advancement to help international students.
“I could hardly believe it when I was told that I would receive this award because it was so unexpected,” Ohenhen said. “I feel humbled and honored to be considered for this award. It is indeed a blessing. It has been very exciting working with UHV to help international students and I am thankful to work with Alumni Relations and International Programs. I had a great experience on campus and support from my UHV community, and I would love to see other students share in the same experience.
The banquet is part of the 2022 UHV Homecoming week which has the theme The Happiest Homecoming at UHV. To see a list of events, go to www.uhv.edu/homecoming.
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.