Division of Student Affairs Committee Hosts Winter Socials for both their Professional Development and Marketing and Communication Committees - University of Houston
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DSA News
December 22, 2023

The Division of Student Affairs (DSA) Professional Development and Engagement Committee (PDEC) celebrated the holiday season with a festive Winter Social on Friday, December 15th. The event attracted over 100 guests and gave the DSA staff an opportunity to connect with colleagues and enjoy some holiday treats.


The Winter Social began with a warm welcome from the PDEC committee members, setting the tone for an afternoon of connection and celebration. Dr. Daniel Maxwell, interim vice president for student affairs, provided “End of the Year” remarks, expressing gratitude for the collective efforts that contributed to a successful year in 2023.

A highlight of the afternoon was the surprise award presentation to Dr. Daniel Maxwell, interim vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Monica Thompson, interim associate vice president for student affairs and executive director for university career services (UCS). Both were honored for their outstanding service in their interim positions over the past two years. PDEC Committee tri-chairs Laura Zavala-Membreno, Kevin Nguyen, and Beverly Thom shared a few words at the event and honored Drs. Dan Maxwell and Monica Thompson with acknowledgments and a special gift in recognition of their commitment to the Division. Tri-chair Laura Zavala-Membreno, director of the women and gender resource center (WGRC) shared, “The Winter Social was the perfect way to end the Fall semester. It was fun to spend time with colleagues and share moments of appreciation and connection with each other.” Tri-chair Kevin Nguyen, assistant director for the student advocacy and community center said, “I hope our winter social event brought warmth to the season and fostered a sense of camaraderie and community as colleagues shared in appreciation of each other and celebration of a successful year.

In addition to the awards ceremony, attendees and PDEC committee members engaged in an exciting activity called "Speed Friending” which was hosted by committee member Brittani Clarkson, assistant director of Wellness programs at UH Wellness. Participants rotated every two minutes, answering fun questions ranging from music preferences to phone background displays. Tri-chair Beverly Thom, manager, of the student centers, “I enjoyed the Speed friending and met such interesting people.” This interactive session fostered new connections and strengthened the sense of belonging among participants.

The Winter Social also featured "Appreciation Language Stations" designed to cater to different preferences, including Acts of Service (Give-a-way entry), Quality Time (Photo-booth), and Gifts such as "Make a friend bracelet." Attendees were encouraged to express Words of Affirmation by writing cards to colleagues, fostering a spirit of appreciation and gratitude. Meanwhile, the DSA Marketing and Communications Committee (MarComm) hosted its own Winter Social on Tuesday, December 19, 2023. The event included an entertaining "Ugly Sweater" contest, Winter Charades, and Cookie decorating. Jalena James, the event Chair, proved to be an excellent host, keeping attendees engaged and ensuring a lively atmosphere.

During the MarComm event, attendees also had the opportunity to contribute to the committee's future plans. A discussion about innovative ideas for the upcoming 2024 calendar year took place and attendees were encouraged to drop suggestions in designated boxes to enhance the committee's effectiveness. Jalena James, communication coordinator, UH wellness center and marcomm committee chair said, “It is important that each marketing personnel in the division collaborate and share their perspectives on enhancing our marketing endeavors to communicate with our student body effectively and meaningfully. The committee members and I had a great time planning and celebrating the end of the Fall Semester and I am looking forward to the Spring 2024 professional development efforts.”

Both the PDEC and MarCom Winter Socials exemplified the Division of Student Affairs' commitment to fostering a sense of community, recognizing outstanding contributions, and providing opportunities for professional development. As the university looks forward to the new year, these events serve as a reminder of the strength and unity within the University of Houston community.

Written by: Germaine Washington, Director of Marketing and Communications – Division of Student Affairs