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Graduates honored as distinguished students during summer commencement

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Several graduates at Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s summer commencement ceremony received the Distinguished Student Awards sponsored by the Student Government Association.

To be nominated for the Distinguished Undergraduate Student Award, a student must be a graduating senior with no less than 60 credit hours earned at Texas A&M-Kingsville. The student must have at least a 3.4 grade point average and must be involved in extracurricular activities. The student also must have the endorsement of the dean of the college from which he/she receives a degree.

To be nominated for the Distinguished Graduate Student Award, the student must be graduating, have grade point average of at least 3.5 and have the endorsement of the college dean.

This summer’s recipients are 

  • Arlene Cortez, Dick and Mary Lewis Kleberg College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences
  • Harleigh Tillman, College of Business Administration
  • Alex J. Vasquez, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Miguel A. Ruelas, Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering
  • Anoop Uchagawkar, College of Graduate Studies 

Arlene Cortez is from Houston. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in range and wildlife management and a minor in biology. She interned through a National Science Foundation funded program working with citizen data, ecological data collection and interactions with the public and multicultural communities in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana. Cortez was awarded a United States Department of Agriculture fellowship to do research in Colorado and also has presented a professional poster at the 13th Biennial Scientific Conference in Wyoming. She also has worked on a project to document climate change impacts on native pollinators in Yellowstone. 

Harleigh Tillman was born in Honolulu and graduated from Tuloso-Midway High School in Corpus Christi. She received her bachelor’s in business administration degree magna cum laude. Tillman was a residential advisor, the vice president of Delta Mu Delta, a member of the Javelina Marketing Society and a member of the Resident Hall Association. She has interned for Frost Bank and the College of Business Administration. 

Alex J. Vasquez, from Mercedes, received a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in English. He worked as a residential advisor, participated in organizations, co-founded a student organization and received numerous scholarships. He will be joining the United States Navy as an officer. 

Miguel A. Ruelas, was born in Guasave, Sinaloa, a small, disadvantaged town in Mexico and graduated from Laredo Community College with an associate’s degree in biology. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a perfect grade point average. Ruelas was the recipient of 21 academic awards including the Gas Processor Association and National Science Foundation Awards. He worked two years as a math and science tutor and worked an internship with the state of Texas as a laboratory engineering assistant.

Anoop Uchagawkar, from India, graduated with a master’s degree in chemical engineering. He successfully completed his master’s thesis research in identifying novel monolith-supported metal oxide catalysts for reducing harmful sulfur dioxide emissions from sulfuric acid plants. He assisted his department as a teaching assistant and improved the quality of the departmental teaching laboratories by developing advanced process automation and control technology packages for various experiments. Uchagawkar presented many oral and poster presentations at innovative research conferences. He will continue his education in the doctoral program in chemical engineering at University of Kansas.


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