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UTEP announces the 2020 Top 10 Seniors


The UTEP Alumni Association annually honors 10 graduating or recently graduated seniors based on a combination of academic achievement, involvement, leadership and service both in the community and off campus.

Although a banquet was unable to be held this spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the seniors who were evaluated through an application process, were still recognized with the prestigious award.

The 2020 Top 10 Senior Award recipients were announced by University Communications (UC) through a university-wide email.

Ruben Aguirre

Political science major

Aguirre says he gives his gratitude for earning this award to his supportive and accomplished family who have been there for him every step of the way.

“I think this award is a testament to the people around me that allowed me to succeed and I was fortunate to be surrounded by positive and supportive people in my family,” Aguirre said. “My mom, dad and sister are all graduates and have either taken their bachelors and masters through the university and this award is a complete team effort.”

After graduation, Aguirre plans to go to law school in the fall for three years and eventually start working at a law firm in El Paso.

“UTEP did a real fine job of taking in their students and providing them opportunities inside and outside the classroom so we could go ahead and tackle the forward challenges we will be facing,” Aguirre said.

Jozelyn Rascon

Rehabilitation sciences major

Rascon displays a kind-hearted and caring nature which has carried over into her desire to become a physical therapist.

“As a future physical therapist, I want to help my future patients be able to perform the activities that bring them happiness within their lives,” Rascon said.

Rascon has been accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UTEP and, after graduating from the program, she plans to become a licensed neurological physical therapist and eventually open a clinic in El Paso.

“We are very proud of all of her accomplishments here at UTEP and she is a very kind, sweet, humble, and caring soul and she is definitely our family’s pride and joy and we love her with all our heart,” said Maria Luisa Rascon, Jozelyn’s mother.

Aiyana Ponce

Cellular and molecular biochemistry

Ponce’s desire to have a strong background in the field of science as well her intention to be a dependable and reliable healthcare worker in the future is a testament to her Top 10 status.

“Despite some of the horrible experiences that some of the medical personnel all over the world are currently experiencing, I see that it is going to be a true honor to be in that same practice as them,” Ponce said. “I am really proud to see how science is having an impact all across the world.”

Bryn Ireland Birdwell

Biological sciences major

Birdwell plans to continue actively promoting UTEP academic and scholarship opportunities and become a professor at UTEP’s College of Education in the future.

“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 in the news release.

Isaac Noel Gandara

Biological sciences major

Gandara will continue to be involved in medicinal and surgical practices after graduation this spring semester.

“By choosing to study at UTEP, I was granted the opportunity to gain extremely valuable experiences that have prepared me for the future,” Gandara said in the news release.

Yeshey Lham

Economics major

Lham displays the ability to lead her colleagues as her plans include mentoring international students, instituting a study abroad program for UTEP in Bhutan and working for the Bhutanese Ministry of Economics.

“Even though UTEP is the first international campus where I have studied, it has always been a home away from home,” Lham told UC. “It never failed to open my eyes to new opportunities and experiences.”

Nohemi Lopez Valdez

Biological studies major

Valdez’ future path includes opening a clinic and performing research while mentoring students and advocating for UTEP’s scholar programs.

“UTEP has not only helped me catalyze my academic achievement, but has also helped me strengthen and build upon the axioms of effective leadership that I value: collaboration, encouragement and accountability,” Lopez Valdez said in the news release.

Tania Pamela Mariscal Quintana

Finance and economics double major

Working with Microsoft as a program manager in the Business Operations and Development division as well as recruiting students to work at Microsoft are in Quintana’s plans.

“I developed personally and professionally through my academic and extra circular experiences, and I want more students to be out there represented UTEP and living unique experiences, Mariscal Quintana told UC.

Sandra Navarrete

Accounting major

Navarrete future plans include working in New York in finance and continuing to mentor 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 told UC.

Marlon Andre Picado

Economics major

Picado would like to 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 in a press release.

Isaiah Ramirez may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Isaiah Ramirez
Isaiah Ramirez is a senior multimedia journalism major at the University of Texas at El Paso. Isaiah has worked for the university’s paper The Prospector since Spring 2018 and has held the position as a sports editor and is currently a reporter at the publication. During the fall semesters he also works as an on-air reporter for Football Friday Nights a weekly radio show showcasing local football games broadcasted by 600 ESPN El Paso. He covers local news as well as local and UTEP sporting events such as football, men’s and women’s basketball, and has covered the annual Hyundai Sun Bowl game and two-time NBA champion Danny Green’s basketball camp here in the Sun City.
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UTEP announces the 2020 Top 10 Seniors