UTEP announces top 10 graduates from the 2020 class


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The University of Texas at El Paso announced the top 10 seniors from the 2020 graduation class.

The Top 10 Senior Awards are given out annually by UTEP to Spring and Winter graduates. According to a news release, award winners are students that make opportunities out of opposition.

“One of the most rewarding projects for the UTEP Alumni Association each year is the selection of UTEP’s Top 10 Seniors,” said Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for UTEP’s Office of Alumni Relations. “These dedicated and hardworking individuals have already done so much in their young lives and their time at UTEP only strengthened their innate talent. We look forward to their work as UTEP alumni. They are future lawyers, educators, doctors, entrepreneurs, financiers and physical therapists. We can’t wait to see all of the great things they will do.”

Normally, the students would be honored with a banquet, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that will not happen.

Here are this year’s Top 10 Seniors, according to UTEP:

Ruben Aguirre

  • Major: Political Science
  • Future Plans: To open his own law firm in El Paso and provide UTEP students with internships.
  • “This University has given me all of the tools to succeed in a demanding and difficult field of law. It allowed me to overcome numerous obstacles throughout my life and has placed my family and I in a much better position,” Aguirre said.

Bryn Ireland Birdwell

  • Major: Applied Learning and Development
  • Future Plans: Remain actively promoting UTEP academic and scholarship opportunities, and become a professor in UTEP’s College of Education.
  • “Thanks to the amazing faculty and staff in the UTEP College of Education, when my two roads diverged, I took the road less traveled by – and that truly has made all the difference,” Birdwell said.

Isaac Noel Gándara

  • Major: Biological Sciences
  • Future Plans: To continue medicinal and surgical practices in El Paso.
  • “By choosing to study at UTEP, I was granted the opportunity to gain extremely valuable experiences that have prepared me for [the] future,” Gándara said.

Yeshey Lham

  • Major: Economics
  • Future Plans: Institute a study abroad program for UTEP in Bhutan, work for the Bhutanese Ministry of Economics, and mentor international students.
  • “Even though UTEP is the first international campus where I have studied, it has always been a home away from home. It never failed to open my eyes to new opportunities and experiences,” Lham said.

Nohemi Lopez Valdez

  • Major: Biological Sciences
  • Future Plans: Open a clinic and perform research while mentoring students and advocating for UTEP’s scholar programs.
  • “UTEP has not only helped me catalyze my academic advancement but has also helped me strengthen and build upon the axioms of effective leadership that I value: collaboration, encouragement, and accountability,” Lopez Valdez said.

Tania Pamela Mariscal Quintana

  • Major: Finance and Economics (double)
  • Future Plans: Working with Microsoft as a program manager in the Business Operations and Development division, as well as recruit students to work at Microsoft.
  • “I developed personally and professionally through my academic and extracurricular experiences, and I want more students to be out there representing UTEP and living unique experiences,” Mariscal Quintana said.

Sandra Navarrete

  • Major: Accounting
  • Future Plans: Work in New York in finance and continue mentoring students in the UTEP College of Business Administration.
  • “It is the sum of my experiences at UTEP that exposed me to new ideas, different career opportunities, and greatly shaped me as a professional,” Navarrete said.

Marlon Andre Picado

  • Major: Economics
  • Future Plans: Construct a nonprofit on the Southwest border for immigrant and low-income population health clinics.
  • “Each UTEP experience prepared me to vigorously work toward a path of becoming a physician and improve the lives of those who yearn for a symbol of hope,” Picado said.

Aiyana Minee Ponce

  • Major: Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry
  • Future Plans: Open an inclusive clinic supporting underrepresented groups and become involved in public policy.
  • “Individuals do not become successful on their own, and I attribute my involvement on and off campus to the UTEP community composed of inspirational students and caring faculty/staff who pushed me to have a high standard of excellence,” Ponce said.

Jozelyn A. Rascon

  • Major: Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Future Plans: Become a licensed neurological physical therapist and open a clinic.
  • “My experience at UTEP has provided me with confidence in my abilities, leadership skills, and a passion for serving my El Paso and Ciudad Juárez communities,” Rascon said.

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