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The 2023 Valenti Student Showcase and Awards at URBE
By Katherine Graves

The Valenti Student Showcase and Awards was a memorable evening last night, Monday, October 16, that found itself filled with honored guests such as scholarship recipients of Valenti, Staff, Students and Alumni in attendance.

The Uptown Park restaurant, URBE, served as the backdrop for this fine evening. The free event began around 5 pm. with the attendees dressed in business casual clothes and welcomed with a wide variety of food options from a custom ceviche to Mexican barbecue stations and for dessert, churros was the go-to for many.

The event served as a wonderful opportunity for those in attendance to network with professionals and students alike and learn more about Valenti.

Welcoming remarks came from CLASS Dean, Daniel O’Connor, and followed with dinner service.

During dinner service, there was a Valenti Student Advisory Council video and remarks, as well as introduction of student organizations such as PRSSA, AAF, and UHABJ, and more.

During and following the dinner, Director of Valenti, Dr. Jen Vardeman, spotlighted scholarship recipients of Valenti. Those present took their turns to stand in recognition of all their accomplishments. Faculty and staff awards were also presented.

Valenti Alumni Association President, Isidro Reyna followed thereafter with an introduction of student projects which was followed by a video presentation of student project submissions.

The student project submissions highlighted student works and allowed students the chance to discuss in a brief video interview the overview of their project. The videos were well-received by students and faculty.

“If I had my own media firm, I would without a doubt hire all the students from the showcase! They are exceptional, creative, and always have the best ideas,” said Dr. Vardeman.

Some student winners from last evening were Andrea Pen ̃a, who was the winner of the Student Showcase and received an iPad in recognition of her accomplishments, and Sydney Rose, who won the Jack. J Valenti Student of the Year Award and was gifted a plaque to commemorate her win.

The event was a great success and well represented in the attendees’ experiences. Students of Dr. Vardeman’s PR Campaigns were also in attendance and provided remarks.

Shermin Ahsan, said, “I had a really great time, and I am very honored to be a part of the Valenti community, showcase, and see familiar faces.”

Gabriella Galvan said, “This was a really fun event, and it was nice to mingle with other Valenti students and put value to the work we’re submitting […] lot’s of potential for this event and more people to participate next year.”

First time attendee and teaching assistant to Dr. Vardeman, Jeremy Cajina-Clarke had a memorable experience, as well.

Cajina-Clarke said, “It is really cool to be included in the event, and I am happy to be able to see the event come together and highlight the various students and faculty accomplishments.”

Cajina-Clarke, as well as Galvan and Ashan were amongst those who submitted student project submissions.

In the final hour of the event, attendees had the option to take part in “networking bingo” which was spearheaded by some students of Dr. Vardeman’s PR Campaigns class. Professionals and students were given different bingo cards, and the objective was to find someone who matched the description inside one of the boxes and fill enough squares to create a bingo.

Following the bingo, the event was scheduled to conclude at 8 pm.

Special thanks to Leticia Ochoa and all those who contributed to the event and able to assist in making it such a hit!

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View photos from the 2022 Valenti Impact Awards.

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Award Winners

The Staff Excellence Award

Tish Ochoa

Outstanding Research Award

Lindita Camaj

Outstanding Teaching by Tenure Track Faculty

Jill Yamasaki

Outstanding Teaching by Instructional Faculty

Laura Ashley

Director’s Service Award

Zhiwen Xiao

Alumnus of the Year

Cathy Frank

Student of the Year

Sydney Rose




Judge Steven Kirkland