TOP TEN SENIORS AWARD

The Top Ten Seniors Awards are presented annually by the UTEP Alumni Association to UTEP’s most promising future alumni.  Graduating or recently-graduated seniors are evaluated on a combination of academic achievement, involvement, leadership, and service both in the community and on-campus, as well as the impression they have made on others during their time at UTEP.  This award reflects the true spirit of what it means to be both an outstanding student and a proud Miner.

Top Ten Seniors 2017

Samuel Alvidrez

Major: Finance
Future plans: Entrepreneur and professional soccer player
Samuel Alvidrez’s college journey has taken him all the way to Wall Street. He was the recipient of a top internship in New York City as a hedge fund summer analyst at Merrill Lynch headquarters, where he joined fellow interns from Ivy League universities all over the country. His internship resulted in an offer for a full-time position, which he declined to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional soccer player. At UTEP, Alvidrez served as the president of the Financial Management Association and conducted workshops to prepare UTEP students aspiring to land top internships in finance. He also served as a director of the UTEP student organization Leaders of Corporate America. “Thanks to UTEP, I am hungry for success and confident enough to pursue my goals in life,” Alvidrez shared. “I am exceptionally grateful to this amazing academic institution where I found my true passion, life mission, and most importantly, the initiative to always give back.”

Raudel Oswaldo Avila

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Future plans: Graduate School at Northwestern University
As an undergraduate student at UTEP, Raudel Oswaldo Avila learned the importance of a quality research-oriented education. Throughout his academic career at the University, he has been involved with student organizations and has published papers in respected journals and conferences. “UTEP gave me the freedom to choose a research-based career, and the faculty aided me in the transition from the classroom to real-life applications and development,” Avila said. “My unique experiences at the undergraduate level helped prepare me for a career in science and engineering.” Avila accepted a full five-year scholarship to Northwestern University’s highly competitive Ph.D. in mechanical engineering program. He will have the opportunity to work with world-renowned faculty members in his field of study on research that will have implications in engineering and medicine.

Ilana Gomez

Major: Philosophy
Future plans: Attend law school

At 16 years old, UTEP sparked Ilana Gomez’s interest in law when she attended UTEP’s Patricia and Paul Yetter Law School Preparation Institute’s (LSPI) high school summer camp. A passion for public service ignited at the end of her sophomore year when she was accepted into the UT Archer Fellowship Program. The program provided Gomez the opportunity to spend a semester working on Capitol Hill in the office of Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Through her participation with LSPI, Gomez has interned with the City Attorney’s Office and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas. Gomez’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer during her college career and recently passed away. Gomez was able to stay motivated through the support and encouragement she received from her fellow students and professors. “I attribute much of my success and personal growth to UTEP. Its courses, programs, and professors provided me the resources and opportunities to pursue my passions,” Gomez said. “I am graduating with a better understanding of myself, my community and the world.”

Kimberly Gonzalez

Major: Forensic Science
Future plans: A career in DNA analysis at the FBI Laboratory

Kimberly Gonzalez believes that her time at UTEP went above and beyond her expectations by providing experiences and skills in and out of the classroom that advanced her personal, academic and professional development. She realized her desire to be actively involved on campus and in the community during the first meeting of UTEP’s student organization, First Year Scholars. Gonzalez has participated in numerous UTEP and community organizations and events including UTEP’s Overseas Savants that enabled her to study in Italy and Greece for 10 days. “UTEP has equipped me with transferable skills useful for any job, including instructional leadership, teamwork, time management and problem-solving,” Gonzalez said. She has had the opportunity to develop valuable skills for her future career through internships with the Crime Scene Unit at the El Paso County Sherriff’s Office and the El Paso County Office of the Medical Examiner. Gonzalez plans to attend graduate school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

Lizette Gutierrez

Major: Biomedical Sciences
Future plans: Medical School

Growing up, Lizette Gutierrez dreamt of attending a prestigious Ivy League university like Princeton or Harvard. However, she said that her decision to attend UTEP ended up changing her life, perspective, and experiences. During her time at the University, through community volunteering efforts and campus involvement, her passion for science and health care has intensified. Her participation in a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded internship in Panama allowed her to learn about the prevalence of the Parechovirus and interact with physicians and researchers involved in disease prevention and awareness. Gutierrez also volunteered alongside doctors and nurses in Santiago, Dominican Republic through an international experience made possible through the UTEP A-PRIME TIME, an accelerated pre-med program. “UTEP gave me the privilege to enter the world between patient and healthcare provider and bear witness to the arduous hours that go into this rewarding profession,” Gutierrez shared. She looks forward to working as a physician in El Paso one day and using her research to shed light on medical issues common to the border region.

Caitlin Harmon

Major: Biological Sciences with Biomedical Concentration
Future plans: Medical School

“UTEP has given me priceless knowledge, transferable skills and optimal personal traits that will pave the road to many future endeavors,” Caitlin Harmon said. She has served as a Miner Ambassador, which she credits as providing her with determination and versatility. As a member of UTEP’s A-PRIME TIME accelerated pre-med program, Harmon was able to expand her knowledge in the medical field through interactions with her program supervisors. She has participated in a significant number of extracurricular activities, organizations, community service and professional development activities. As a student researcher, she has been actively engaged in basic biomedical research investigating cellular signaling mechanisms that underlie cancer development and progression. Harmon has served as a research assistant in the Signal Transduction Pathway Lab led by Robert Kirken, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science. She also completed an internship at MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Neuropsychology Department.

Eden Klein

Major: Economics
Future plans: Law School

Advocating for human rights, reforming the justice system and working for the less fortunate are what Eden Klein hopes to accomplish as a future attorney. She knows that to achieve her lofty goals she must acquire patience, dedication, passion and leadership, which Klein is confident she has gained during her college journey. “UTEP has taught me these valuable qualities, among others, in the two years I have been a student,” Klein said. As a graduate of the early college high school program, she only had two years at UTEP and wanted to make the most of them. While at UTEP, Klein participated in multiple internships as well as led a project constructing a series of binational, cross-border asset maps with the Hunt Institute for Global Competitiveness. She also took part in UTEP’s Patricia and Paul Yetter Law School Preparation Institute, served as president of the Regional Economic Development Association and was the team caption for the UTEP Forensics Team.

Andrea Norte

Major: English and American Literature/History
Future plans: Graduate School at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

Andrea Norte feels confident that UTEP has best prepared her for her future journey to graduate school and law school. “UTEP gave me the gift of understanding, which instilled in me a strong sense of empathy, ambition, tolerance and prudence,” Norte shared. “I plan on using this gift at home, class, court and everywhere I go, until my very last day.” The aspiring lawyer of international law has had the opportunity to engage in research and is the only undergraduate student to present at the Jewish American and Holocaust Literature Association’s annual symposium. As a way of giving back, Norte created UTEP’s first Liberal Arts Student Conference, which allows liberal arts majors to exhibit their research, feel empowered and gain pride in their work. She has been involved in numerous campus and community organizations and activities. As a UTEP student, Norte traveled the world and studied in Dublin, Ireland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Warsaw, Krakow, and Auschwitz, Poland.

Mayra Rodarte

Major: Stage Management
Future plans: Executive director for a nonprofit organization

Due to the passionate and caring faculty and organizations at UTEP, I feel more prepared than ever to help others as I have been helped for the rest of my life,” Mayra Rodarte said. “I plan to dedicate my future to marginalized groups and communities, confident that my experiences at UTEP have prepared me well.” She credits her mentor, Carolyn Cubit-Tsutsui, head of stage management with the UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance, with providing her with endless insight and opportunities throughout her college career. Rodarte has been the recipient of many awards and honors while at the University. She was the first place winner at the Inaugural Liberal Arts Student Conference, received The Kennedy Center Award for Excellence in Properties Design, was awarded best undergraduate presentation at the 2015 Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI) Symposium, and was a 2013 Top Ten Scholar and a recipient of UTEP’s 2013 Presidential Excellence Scholarship. She has been actively involved in various organizations and has served as stage manager for a number of UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance productions.

Ryan Saenz

Major: Biological Sciences
Future plans: A career as a healthcare administrator

Ryan Saenz made it his mission to use his college experience to gain the skills and training needed to be successful in healthcare. He tackled this mission by participating in various healthcare-related research opportunities, organizations and activities on and off campus. Saenz was president of UTEP’s Medical Professions Organization (MPO) and served numerous other campus and community organizations in various capacities. As one of his projects with MPO, he created a virtual study plan for the MCAT that is among the largest and most comprehensive free MCAT resources available online. Saenz completed a clinical research internship in anesthesiology at McGovern Medical School as well as attended the Boston University School of Medicine Early Medical School Selection Program, where he spent a summer extensively learning about medicine. “UTEP has provided me with a wide variety of experiences that will undoubtedly assist me in carrying out future job duties and implementing novel projects and programs to help UTEP and El Paso grow,” Saenz said.

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