College Roundup - University of Houston
Skip to main content

College Roundup A selection of faculty, staff, student and alumni happenings

May 2022

Kerry Chavez, a doctoral student in the counseling psychology program, earned an honorable mention for the 2022 Researching Injustice and Social Equality (RISE) Award from the Association for Psychological Science. She was awarded for her research investigating how marijuana use among African Americans aged 18-25 was related to childhood trauma and social support from friends, family and significant others.

Two-time UH graduate Marcela Baez has been named superintendent of Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco ISD in Alice, Texas, about an hour southwest of Corpus Cristi. Baez earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership – K-12 from the College in 2017 and earned a B.A. in psychology from UH in 1999. She most recently served as assistant superintendent of human resources in San Marcos CISD and worked in Houston ISD for 20 years as a teacher and administrator.

April 2022

Dieu Truong, a doctoral student in the school psychology program, has been awarded the 2021 Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association’s School Psychology Division. She was honored for her contributions to Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander anti-racism in psychology. She was the lead author of the 2021 School Psychology Review journal article, “School Psychology Unified Call for Deeper Understanding, Solidarity, and Action to Eradicate Anti-AAAPI Racism and Violence.” Troung earned a B.S. in human development and family studies from the College and a B.S. in psychology in 2011.

Lupita Hernandez, a master’s student in the higher education program, was selected as UH’s 2022 Graduate Student Employee of the Year through University Career Services. Hernandez is an instructional assistant for the the UH Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

Guillermo Ortega, who earned a Ph.D. in higher education in 2020, received the 2022 Early Career Award in Education and Sport from the American Educational Research Association. Ortega is an assistant professor of higher education at the Idaho State University College of Education.

Robin Cox, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2015, has been named 2022 Elementary Teacher of the Year at Fort Bend ISD. Cox teaches fifth grade reading and social studies at Commonwealth Elementary School in the district.

Samantha Andrade, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2021, has been named 2022 District Rookie Teacher of the Year at Fort Bend ISD. Andrade teaches at Ridgemont Early Literacy Center in the district.

Carmen Lozano, a doctoral student in the professional leadership – K-12 program, has been named principal of Andre’ Elementary School in Cypress Fairbanks ISD. She previously served as an assistant principal at Truitt Middle School and at Cypress Park High School. Lozano has 15 years of teaching and administration experience in the district.

Five faculty members earned UH Teaching Excellence Awards for 2021-22. Clinical Assistant Professor Keith Butcher, who directs the College’s principal preparation program, was recognized in the clinical category. From the human development and family studies program, Clinical Assistant Professor Toya Conston, Clinical Associate Professor Erica Jordan, Associate Professor Leslie Frankel and Clinical Assistant Professor Saira Rab were recognized in the group teaching category.

March 2022

Two faculty members have earned committee leadership positions with the American Educational Research Association. April Peters-Hawkins, associate chair of the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, will serve a three-year term as co-chair of the Mentoring Committee of AERA’s Administration, Organization and Leadership Division. Virginia Snodgrass Rangel, an assistant professor of educational leadership, has been elected vice president-elect of the Research, Evaluation and Assessment in Schools Division. She will become vice president at the 2023 annual meeting.

Norma Olvera, a health professor in the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences, has been elected president of the Hispanic Health Coalition for a two-year term. She previously served a two-year term as vice president of the nonprofit, which focuses on promoting healthy lifestyles among Houston’s Hispanic and Latino communities.

David Graham, who earned a bachelor’s in health – kinesiology in 2009 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction in 2014, won Administrator of the Year at Texas City High School in Texas City ISD. This is the second consecutive year he has won Administrator of the Year honors.

Vanessa Trejo, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2019, has been named Teacher of the Year at Houston ISD’s Rucker Elementary. Trejo, a graduate of the College’s Teach Forward Houston grow-your-own program, teaches kindergarten dual language at the school. This is the third consecutive year she has won Teacher of the Year honors.

Alumna Khalilah Campbell-Rhone has been promoted to assistant superintendent of transformation in Houston ISD, overseeing the turnaround of two dozen high-need campuses. Campbell-Rhone most recently served as the district’s officer of special populations and won HISD’s 2019 Secondary Principal of the Year Award for her transformational work at Worthing High School. She earned a doctorate in professional leadership, a master’s in administration and supervision, and a bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies (now teaching and learning) with a minor in African American studies.

February 2022

Numerous College of Education faculty members were honored for their contributions to the second and third year of UH’s “50-in-5” research initiative. The follow professors were recognized for major grants unless indicated otherwise: Consuelo Arbona (PHLS), Ann Chen (PHLS), Virmarie Correa-Fernández (PHLS), Marcel de Dios (PHLS), Conra Gist (CUIN), Elsa Gonzalez (ELPS; grant and National Science Foundation CAREER award), Jorge Gonzalez (PHLS), Jacqueline Hawkins (ELPS), Cathy Horn (ELPS), Milena Keller-Margulis (PHLS), Dave Louis (ELPS; Fulbright award), Anne McClellan (ACES), Lyle McKinney (ELPS; Fulbright award), Rosenda Murillo (PHLS; high-impact publication), Ezemenari Obasi (PHLS), April Peters-Hawkins (ELPS), Lorraine Reitzel (PHLS), Augustina Reyes (ELPS), Kristi Santi (ELPS) and Amber Thompson (CUIN).

Vanessa Cerrato, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2017, has been named Teacher of the Year at Houston ISD’s Eliot Elementary. Cerrato teaches bilingual first grade at the school, which is also her alma mater.

Two-time UH graduate Eduardo Elizondo has been named senior career advisor specialist within Houston ISD’s Career Readiness Department. Elizondo earned an M.Ed. in educational psychology from the College in 1995 and also earned a B.A. in psychology from UH in 1991. He is a lifetime member of the University of Houston Alumni Association, serves on the UH Center for Mexican American Studies advisory council and is a board member of the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  

Keith Butcher, a clinical assistant professor and director of the M.Ed. in administration and supervision program, and Virginia Snodgrass Rangel, an assistant professor of educational leadership, have been selected as faculty fellows for 2022-23 by the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership at the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs. They are collaborating on a study of school principal interns’ experiences during COVID and their engagement with equity-focused leadership and will present their work in the faculty seminar series.

Ruth M. López, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, and alumna Michelle Tovar have been selected as Latinos for Education board fellows. The training program works to diversify board governance of education nonprofits. Tovar, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership – social education in 2020, serves as director of public engagement at the Holocaust Museum of Houston.

Associate Professor Elsa Gonzalez, alumna Miranda Wilson and research fellow Frank Fernandez earned a book-of-the-year award from the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education for a book they co-edited titled “An Asset-Based Approach to Advancing Latina Students in STEM: Increasing Resilience, Participation, and Success.” They won in the edited volume category. Gonzalez is a professor in the higher education program. Wilson, a graduate of the higher education Ph.D. program, currently works as assistant provost of institutional research at Baylor College of Medicine. Fernandez, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, is a senior research fellow in the UH Asian American Studies Center and former faculty member in the College.

Sandra Gonzalez, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2021, has been named Beginning Teacher of the Year at Houston ISD’s Cornelius Elementary. Gonzalez teaches bilingual pre-K at the school.

Two-time UH graduate Marcela Baez has been named assistant superintendent of human resources at San Marcos CISD. Baez earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership – K-12 from the College in 2017 and also earned a B.A. in psychology from UH in 1999. She currently serves as chief human resource officer for the district and previously worked in Houston ISD for 20 years as a teacher and administrator.  

January 2022

Claudia Aguirre, who earned an M.Ed. in administration and supervision in 2001, has been appointed deputy chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Aguirre is president and CEO of BakerRipley, one of the nation’s largest nonprofits. She leads a team of nearly 1,500 in delivering community development programs and services to children, families and seniors across the Houston region. Since joining the organization in 2010, she has served as vice president of community-based initiatives, superintendent of schools, and chief program officer and senior vice president.

Adrienne Laygan, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2018, has been named Teacher of the Year at Humble ISD’s Fall Creek Elementary. Laygan teaches fourth grade at the school.

Gilbert Garza, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2021, has been named Houston ISD’s Pugh Elementary Beginning Teacher of the Year. Garza teaches fourth grade at the school.  

Pamela Mandujano-Gómez, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2021, has been named New Teacher of the Year at Houston ISD’s Jefferson Elementary. Mandujano-Gómez teaches third grade math at the school. 

Diana Castillo, who earned an M.Ed. in administration and supervision in 2003 and also has a bachelor’s in history from UH, has won an Excellence in Leadership award from Houston ISD. Castillo serves as principal of Pilgrim Academy, a K-8 campus in west Houston.

Lupita Hinojosa, who earned an Ed.D. in professional leadership in 2012, has been named the new superintendent at Spring ISD. She previously served as the district’s chief of innovation and equity. Hinojosa will be the first Hispanic woman in district history to serve as superintendent.

Diane Elmore Borbon, who earned a Ph.D. in counseling psychology in 2002, has been named executive director of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Elmore Borbon currently serves as policy director for the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress and will begin her new position in February 2022. She earned the College’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019.

Reenee Palacios, who earned a B.S. in teaching in 2015, has been named Alief ISD’s Collins Elementary Teacher of the Year. Palacios teaches first grade bilingual.

Elizabeth Matehuala, who earned a B.S. in teaching and learning in 2008, has been named Houston ISD’s Pugh Elementary Teacher of the Year and the Houston Area Association for Bilingual Educators Teacher of the Year. Matehuala teaches fourth grade.

Alex Jones, who earned a B.S. in teaching and learning in 2006 and an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction in 2007, has accepted a position of science specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Jones previously taught STEM at Horn Elementary in Houston ISD.