Students reminisce on their academic journey

Students+reminisce+on+their+academic+journey

Tania Moran

Helen Yip, Staff Reporter

Jorge Luis Banos Gomar, 25, who received his bachelor’s degree in accounting in December 2013, is excited that all of his hard work has paid off.

“The Top Ten Senior Award was like the cherry on top of my academic career,” Gomar said.

UTEP recently recognized its Top Ten Seniors at the annual Honors Convocation on April 13. These seniors will be honored again during the spring Commencement May 17. The seniors were chosen from undergraduate students who either graduated during winter 2013 or who will graduate this spring.

Gomar came to UTEP from Mexico City, where he studied international relations and political science.  When he came to UTEP, he transferred to accounting and decided that was the way to go.

“I did an internship, and while I was working, I got pulled into the business side and liked it,” Gomar said. “My family all own businesses, so accounting seems like it was for me.”

Adjusting to the university life in the U.S. was not hard for Gomar, but he said he could see the two countries were quite different.

“The environment is completely different, I had a chance to be part of a lot of extracurricular activities,” Gomar said. “I could tell it was a big difference.”

Gomar was part of the Association of Information Technology Professionals and in the 2012-2013 school year he became president. AITP is a networking forum made for delivering technology and leadership education and research on current business and technology issues.

Gomar’s accomplishments include his presidential position of the business organization Beta Alpha Psi, along with the Golden Key Honor Society whose members strive for academic leadership and service excellence.

Gomar is now pursuing his master’s degree in accounting at UTEP, while he works for El Paso Electric Company. He said he is very thankful to a number of professors at UTEP that helped him succeed.

One faculty member in particular was Hettie Hougton, lecturer in accounting and the adviser to Beta Alpha Psi.

“She was also a Top Ten Senior. She went on to get her master’s and now she is a professor at UTEP,” Gomar said. “She was an inspiration to me.”

Students who want to be awarded the Top Ten Senior Award need to meet a number of rigorous achievements including a minimum cumulative 3.25 grade point average, sustained involvement and leadership on campus and in the community.

Victoria Martyn, 22, senior kinesiology major, said it was no small task to get to where she is today.

“I really had to break a lot of bad habits like procrastination and really try and focus in order to do well in school and in soccer,” Martyn said.

Martyn is from Edmonton, the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta.  She grew up playing soccer from the age of 4, and played for UTEP all four years after being scouted by her coach Kevin Cross.

“My coach has given me amazing opportunities during my time here and he really tried to make the experience as good as possible for us,” Martyn said.  “I’m so appreciative of him because I got to focus on my studies because of the scholarship I got from him.”

Martyn received the Peter and Margret De Wetter Academic Scholarship as well as an athletic scholarship.  Among her achievements in athletics and academics, Martyn was also a part of a committee to create the Miners Helping Miners Scholarship for the kinesiology program.

MHM is a scholarship that was developed by the team, including Martyn, under the direction of Dr. George King, associate professor of the kinesiology program. It is a system based on donors, who consist of students, alumni or anyone who can give a small amount of fund to accumulate enough for a scholarship.

Martyn was also part of the American College of Sports Medicine Student Bowl, which is a society dedicated to health aspects of persons engaged in sports and exercise.

Another Top Ten Senior is Tanya Sue Maestas, 21, senior in biological sciences. After she graduates, Maestas will be leaving for the UT Health Science Center School of Dentistry in Houston.

“If I had to choose three people that really helped me, it would be Mary Wells, Dr. Stephen Aley and Dr. Robert Kitchens,” Maestas said.

Maestas was born and raised in El Paso and said she wants to specialize in periodontics.

“The common thing they are doing right now is putting implants on people to replace a tooth, essentially,” Maestas said.

Maestas was in 25 different student organizations throughout her UTEP career. Maestas had the honor of being a senator-at large-for the Student Government Association during her sophomore year. In her junior year, Maestas became president for SGA.

“If I had to pick my top favorites, it would be Student Government Association and The American Society for Microbiology,” Maestas said.

Jeremiah Steed, 22, senior physics major, will be making UTEP proud when he enters medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas, this August.

Steed was born in Durango, Colorado, and he said he has always wanted to be a doctor.

“I was home-schooled, so I give my mother a lot of credit for how much she taught me and how much she cared,” Steed said. “My father was also very motivating and very encouraging to help me have a vision of what I could be and what I wanted to be.”

Steed said he grew up with drive and determination to do the things that were a challenge.

He said excelling academically at UTEP became second nature because of his upbringing.

“When I felt like it was too much or I was incapable, I would fall on my knees and pray,” Steed said. “I know without a doubt that is solely responsible for my success.”

Steed started shadowing a doctor in Ft. Worth before he came to UTEP.  The summer between his freshmen and sophomore year, Steed went to the Philippines and worked for Habitat for Humanity for two months.  Steed also worked on the financial aid committee, and was also a teaching assistant for the physics department his sophomore year.

Steed really credits a lot of success to his dad.

“He taught me to try and do more than to just choose what’s easy,” Steed said. “To have a dream, something that’s worth living for something that matters rather than just the status quo.”

Helen Yip may be reached at [email protected]