Valenti Impact Awards - University of Houston
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By Miguel Lopez

After a two-year hiatus, the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication hosted its annual Valenti Impact Awards event at Caracol on September 16th. The Valenti Impact Awards are an opportunity for the public to celebrate and support the achievements of the Valenti School of Communication students, faculty, staff and alumni. In the years since the awards inaugural event, donors and supporters have helped award more than 150 deserving students with over half a million dollars in scholarships. This year, over eighty thousand dollars were awarded to deserving students across all communication disciplines. Among those honored at the Valenti Impact Awards is Denise Miller, who was chosen as the 2022 Student of the Year and is majoring in Public Relations. 

“Each year, our community partners come together to support our students, who are the next generation of storytellers,” said Jennifer Vardeman, director of the Valenti School of Communication. “The Valenti School’s students are some of the most creative, innovative, resilient, and hardworking, all skills they will use in telling the stories that make an impact in our world.” 

The 2022 Valenti Impact Award recipient and the keynote speaker was Nandi Howard, Content Editor of Essence Magazine—a premier lifestyle publication. A native of Houston, Ms. Howard is a graduate of DePaul University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in public relations and advertising. Now, with over five years of experience as a leader in the industry, she has become a trailblazer for future storytellers, exemplifying the type of professionals Valenti students aspire to be. Chosen for her impact on culture-focused media by showing that women and the Black community are at the heart of storytelling today, Ms. Howard prides herself in her ability to cultivate a diverse perspective. 

“Diversity is essential to any area of communication,” Ms. Howard said. “I am proud to serve as an inspiration to future generations of women, Black women, and communication students at the Valenti School.” 

The sponsors for the 2022 Valenti Impact Awards include the Valenti Alumni Association, Comcast, Apache, Invicta Health Solutions, Powers Media Works, and Gotham Image Works. 

Contributions to the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication create opportunities for the next generation of storytellers. Every dollar helps award scholarships, support faculty research, and teaching, and create innovative experiences that differentiate us from our competitors. Those interested in supporting the Valenti School of Communication may do so by visiting

View Impact Awards Photo Gallery

View photos from the 2023 Valenti Impact Awards.

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Award Winners

The Staff Excellence Award

Trever Thomas

Outstanding Research Award

Summer Harlow

Outstanding Teaching by Tenure Track Faculty

Yan Huang

Outstanding Teaching by Instructional Faculty

Laura Ashley

Director’s Service Award

Beth Olson

Alumnus of the Year

Isidro Reyna

Student of the Year

Denise Miller