MAY 19, 2023 — This weekend, more than 250 seniors in the Honors College will be graduating from UTSA. Many of these high-achieving students already have impressive jobs lined up or will be starting graduate studies in the fall.
With hands-on experiential learning at the core of the Honors College experience, this unique advantage has given these career-ready Roadrunners an edge up as they pursue their dreams.
For example, Joshua Lazaro, who is receiving his bachelor’s degree in statistics and data science with a concentration in biology, will start a job this summer for the U.S. Center for Disease Control. In the fall, the first-generation student will also begin his Ph.D. in biomedical informatics at Stanford School of Medicine. Among many achievements, Lazaro was named a United Nations Association Millennium Fellow in 2020 along with 15 other Honors College students. The UTSA cohort participated in a semester-long leadership program and completed a project that address United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Ana Licón, who is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in health and a minor in political science, will be starting a master’s degree in public health this fall at New York University. Concentrating in environmental public health sciences, her career goal is to become a public health professor.
UTSA Top Scholar Kathryn Wilson, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in global affairs with minors in psychology and intelligence and security studies, will be moving to Washington D.C. for a full-time position as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense. Wilson was also named a Millennium Fellow in 2020 and served as one of two campus directors overseeing the UTSA project.
Avery Justus, who is receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer science, will start a full-time position as a software engineer at H-E-B. Justus joined the Honors College staff as a student employee the summer before his first semester at UTSA. He remained on the college’s staff throughout his time at UTSA and was able to incorporate his passion for coding to take on the invaluable role of webmaster for the college. In addition to working part-time for the college and completing all requirements to graduate from the Honors College, Justus completed multiple internships with H-E-B.
Three remarkable seniors, Samantha Oviedo, Tristan Pepper and Joshua Chaj Ulloa, share the unique distinction of having been selected for the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow Program during their time at UTSA. They are all also part of the UTSA ESTEEMED program.
Oviedo, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2022 and a NSF Graduate Research Fellow this spring. She will enter the doctoral program in chemical and biological sciences at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, starting in the fall. As a Hispanic first-generation college student in the sciences, and the daughter of parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, Oviedo is breaking barriers and paving the way for other young students to get involved in research. A few of her other accolades include serving as president of the American Chemical Society Student Chapter at UTSA and receiving the 2022 College of Sciences Dean’s Fund for Excellence Award.
Pepper, a UTSA Top Scholar who is earning his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, was named a Millennium Fellow in 2020, a Goldwater Scholar in 2021 and a NSF Graduate Research Fellow this spring. He will enter the Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University in the fall.
In Fall 2021, Pepper’s team — which also included fellow Top Scholar seniors Yohannes Akiel and Dylan Watson — took second place in the Big Rowdy Idea, a student business plan competition at UTSA. This spring, Pepper, Akiel and another senior Top Scholar Josh Klopfenstein, were on the team that won first place at UTSA’s inaugural Draper Data Science Business Plan Competition.
Chaj Ulloa, a first-generation college student earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, was also named a Goldwater Scholar in 2021 and a NSF Graduate Research Fellow this spring. He will be starting a Ph.D. in the joint medical and electrical engineering program at the California Institute of Technology starting this fall. Like Wilson, Chaj Ulloa was also named a 2020 Millennium Fellow and served with her as a campus director.
During his time at UTSA, Chaj Ulloa served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Advanced Biophotonics and Nanotechnology Laboratory. He also completed summer research fellowships at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to name a few.
Other Honors College graduates will be starting full-time positions at companies like Accenture Federal Services, Apple, BlackRock, Dell Technologies, Ernst & Young, General Motors, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Randolph Air Force Base. Others will be pursuing graduate studies at institutions like Rice University, Umeå University in Sweden, University of Texas at Austin, and UT Health San Antonio. Others have their sights set on attending medical school, law school, or working in the public and nonprofit sectors.
In addition, this graduating class includes three students – Madeline Morales, Eliesha Perez and Axa Soria – selected to the Fulbright Student Program. Administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the initiative offers graduating college seniors a scholarship to continue their studies, conduct research or teach English in more than 140 countries.
“Each graduating class of Honors College students astounds us with all they have accomplished and how much they have grown since their first year at UTSA,” said Jill Fleuriet, interim dean of the UTSA Honors College. “The Class of 2023 includes extraordinary talent, and we are so proud and humbled that the honors experience at UTSA has played a supporting role in preparing them to chart their path and change the world.”
The UTSA Honors College will celebrate its graduating scholars during a special Honors Stole & Laurel Celebration at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 19 at the UTSA Main Campus.
Home to roughly 1,800 hardworking, achievement-oriented, conscientious students across all majors, the UTSA Honors College offers one of the most unique experiential honors curricula in the nation. Its practical, hands-on approach to learning allows students to chart their own path and achieve their highest potential.
To graduate from the Honors College, students must complete a combination of honors courses and signature experiences, which can be fulfilled by participating in service projects, professional development such as internships and fellowships, research, study abroad or other cultural exploration, engaged living, skill development, independent study, or by taking additional experiential learning honors courses.
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