‘To be chartered and get such a prestigious award was doubly exciting for us’

UHV recognizes student organizations, award winners in virtual ceremony

VICTORIA, Texas – On Tuesday, May 4, the University of Houston-Victoria Multicultural Advisory Council had a double celebration, as the group was officially chartered as a student organization and was named the Student Organization of the year.

The Multicultural Advisory Council holds events throughout the year, ranging from international holiday celebrations such as Oktoberfest and Cinco de Mayo, to coordinating awareness campaigns focused on issues regarding race or gender.

“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.”

The seventh annual UHV Student Organization and Leadership Celebration was held virtually for UHV students, faculty and staff to attend. The new chartered student organizations and honor students and advisors who have made an impact on and off campus were recognized.

“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 qualify for a chartered organization, a group must have at least five members, three of whom are officers with a minimum 2.5 grade-point average and a UHV faculty of staff advisor. A constitution must be written up by the students. In addition to MAC, Xi Alpha Rho and the Accounting Club, Katy received their charters.

Eli Juma, a UHV senior from Sabinal, was presented with the Student Volunteer of the Year award.  Juma was highly involved on campus throughout the previous year. While working as a student director in UHV Student Life, he is also a member of the Student Government Association. For the most part, he made sure he was available whenever needed.

“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.”

Advisor of the Year was awarded to Rosie McCusker, manager of student recruitment and outreach for the UHV School of Business Administration, for her work advising the Business Student Association. Students are connected to professional organizations through this association. Some organizations are the Society for Human Resources Management, the Institute for Public Procurement and a UH System Ecosystem for entrepreneurs. It also offers chances to volunteer and partner with the UHV School of Business Administration Dean’s Advisory Board to host the Bridge to Brillian online series.

“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.”

Tiarah Figueroa, president of the UHV Student Government Association and a San Antonio junior, was awarded the Student Organization Member of the Year award. During her term as president, the university has been in an unprecedented standpoint with limits on the number of students attending classes on campus and a move to more online instruction and activities. The association, under Figueroa’s leadership, has worked hard to communicate with students and promote involvement in events and campus life. Additionally, she has represented UHV’s students in new efforts and initiatives such as the university’s Race & Diversity Task Force.

“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.”

The recipients of the Spirit of the Jaguar Award, an award that recognizes integrity, citizenship, academics and respect, were also recognized and awarded 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.

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 all the awards presented, two UHV upperclassmen were presented “I Am UHV” scholarships based on their strong leadership characteristics. Sarah Stanaland of Jarrell was awarded the first-place prize of $750, and Lisa Seidenberger of Yoakum received the second-place prize of $500.

Sixteen students were honored for earning ROAR Certified Leader certifications in one or more of four areas, including communication, problem-solving, social responsibility and teamwork. The title of Distinguished ROAR Certified Leader was awarded to students who completed all four areas. For the 2019-2020 year, three students earned the distinguished title: Candace Kubecka of Edna, Eugene Krueger of Katy and Sara Alexander of Katy. For 2020-2021, a total of 11 students earned the title and two earned various certifications. Those students 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, Sugarland

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.