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Introducing UTEP’s 2024 Top Ten Seniors

Merriweather+is+a+part+of+the+UTEP+Commercial+Music+Ensemble%2C+Concert+Chorale%2C+and+Chamber+Singers.
Iziah Moreno
Merriweather is a part of the UTEP Commercial Music Ensemble, Concert Chorale, and Chamber Singers.

One thing some parents and families can be proud of at UTEP’s commencement is being the people in the crowd cheering for their graduates that are acknowledged as one of the Top Ten Seniors. The UTEP Alumni Association annually honors exceptional students recognizing their outstanding academic achievements, leadership roles, community engagement and extracurricular activities.  

Zachary Althoff: Graduated with a bachelor’s in accounting, notable for his leadership in Beta Alpha Psi and internships in El Paso and San Francisco. Being a part of many community service efforts in El Paso, the most important one to him is the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). 

“To me, the honor goes to those that not only excel academically, through service, or as a leader, but also have a compelling reason for why,” Althoff said. “That reason was to show our students the opportunities available to them and advocate for (them) at a large scale, because UTEP students, including myself when starting, far too often underestimate themselves.” 

Zoe Andritsos: Majored in economics, served in various roles at UTEP including the Supreme Court Chief Justice for Student Government Association (SGA), a Miner Ambassador, and Treasurer of Omicron Delta Epsilon.  

She says she also represented UTEP in Washington D.C. as an Archer Fellow interning with the Federal Government. 

“This achievement is a testament to the sacrifice of my parents and grandparents who worked hard to provide a better life for my sister and me,” Andritsos said. “It is a tribute to the professors, mentors, and friends I have at UTEP who provided me with all the opportunities that led me here and shaped me into the person I am.” 

Frida Garcia-Ledezma: Majoring in geological science, she is actively involved in various organizations like Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (Sacnas) and UTEP Geology Club where she serves as president. 

“I feel like it’s a culmination of everything that I’ve done these past four years, like the research, the community outreach, the volunteering,” Garcia-Ledezma said. “It’s going to bring everything together and in retrospect it just feels nice to be recognized for doing all those things.” 

Abeni Merriweather: Has a bachelor’s of commercial music and voice and is pursuing a master’s of music. Merriweather is a member of the UTEP Commercial Music Ensemble, UTEP Concert Chorale and Chamber Singers and former vice president and historian for the Border Voices American Choral Directors Association.  

She was recognized for her compositions performed at Carnegie Hall and as a performer in UTEP’s music ensembles. 

“This really means the hallmark of all the work that I’ve done throughout my undergraduate time here at UTEP,” Merriweather said. “On top of keeping up with my grades and making sure, maintaining a good GPA, and balancing performances. It’s further reassurance that I did the job that I need to do for myself and I’m very proud of that.” 

Maximilian Rothblatt: Now pursuing a master’s in aerospace engineering, Rothblatt was awarded the Hawkin’s Scholarship, which is UTEP’s highest academic award. He’s had internships at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the American Association of Mechanical Engineers where he served as secretary and president. 

“I feel recognized for all the hard work that not only I’ve put in, but all the hard work, times studying with my friends and classmates, time spent doing research, and going to internships, it all led to something,” Rothblatt said. “It feels really good, I’m very grateful to other people that helped me get to this point.” 

Benjamin Shipkey: Through majoring in political science, Shipkey learned from his experiences at UTEP, and interned with Congressman Tony Gonzalez.   He is now part of Gonzelez’s full-time staff and plans to join the armed forces. 

“You can advance university’s mission to also better the region around you, which I think is exactly what I’ve done and I’m proud of that,” Shipkey said. “I think that’s what being a top 10 senior is all about; exemplifying the university’s mission. 

Kennadi Trevino: Majoring in public health, Trevino engaged in various organizations including Zeta Tau Alpha and is currently interning with Desert Mountain Health. 

“To me it’s a cultivation of all our hard work, so every top 10 senior has worked really hard to get this,” Trevino said. “It means recognizing what we’ve done and our work at UTEP and outside of UTEP.” 

Amira Williams: Majoring in engineering, innovation and leadership. Her work at the front desk of the Engineering Education and Leadership Department (EELD) inspired to start a podcast called the “EELD Inclusive”. She also created UTEP’s Nation Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).  

“I try to not think about it as a me thing,” Williams said. “I didn’t do any of it alone, so much of it was because of the support I’ve had, the teams I’ve been on. It’s just more of a combination of everybody’s hard work and how I’m just a vessel for it.” 

Last of the Top Ten Seniors are Michael Gutierrez, who created the Queer Texas Student Association at UTEP and Brian Rodiles Delgado who received the Barry Goldwater National Research award.  

Ximena Cordero is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Ximena Cordero
Ximena Cordero, Staff Reporter
Ximena Cordero is a freshman at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is a staff reporter at The Prospector. She is majoring in communications and deciding between a minor in creative writing or English literature. After graduating, she would like to pursue a master's degree, work as a journalist or communication specialist, and maybe even write her own books. She wants a career that will allow her to explore the world and see new perspectives and cultures.
Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Contributor/Photographer
Iziah Moreno is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
Joel Molina
Joel Molina, Photo Editor
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is the photo editor who began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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