15:44 PM

2023 Staff Awards: A Cut Above

Long story short: 115 Gator staff members were nominated for awards, and everyone got cutting boards.

The longer version would say that the UHD Staff Awards were themed “Fall in Love with Downtown." It would also note that, after the event, all of the attendees were thoroughly smitten. Debra McGaughey, Assistant Vice President, University Relations, provided the event's opening remarks, as well as some levity, alternating as she did between jokes about who would win best laugh and a more serious tone, ensuring that those present knew just how crucial UHD staff are to the success of the University. J.R. Sears, FY24 Staff Council President and Research Computing System Administrator, spoke as well, and reiterated the Staff Council’s commitment to advocacy. 

Among the highlights was the presentation of the President’s Staff Excellence Award to Ruby Lacour-Tyler, Coordinator, Administrative Services. The award, the highest honor bestowed by the University to a staff employee, recognizes individual excellence of those who have served UHD in an exemplary manner.

At the end of the festivities, every staff member was gifted a custom-branded UHD cutting board, a fitting gift for a collection of staff that is more than a cut above. 

See below for the entire list of staff awards recipients.


  • Gabriela Martinez
  • Irma Placencia
  • Rhonda Scherer


  • Ermelinda Delavina
  • Charlie Bryan Finch, Jr.
  • Bruce Greer
  • Albert Frederick Holden IV
  • Liem Nguyen
  • Hitesh K. Patel
  • Terrilyn Ratcliff
  • Ben Robles
  • Akif Uzman


  • Fahmida Dehlvi
  • Donna Dodson-Tibbs
  • Janet Dyer
  • Justo Manrique
  • Marvelia Rocha


  • Monica Comeaux
  • Mandy A. Danley
  • Gerrelyn Davidson
  • Javier Diaz
  • Ralph Estrada
  • Patricia Ann Gutierrez
  • Preston Heng
  • Belinda A. Hernandez
  • Wan-Yen “Abbie” Huang
  • Jean Claude Kalonji
  • Cora Locking O. 
  • Maritza Martinez
  • Joshua McNabney
  • Delia Melendez
  • Victor Montejano
  • David Joseph Nguyen
  • Eva D. Ryan
  • Carol M. Tucker 
  • LaShonda White


  • Justin D. Burton
  • Brian Drake
  • Erica Green
  • Dr. Rachael Hudspeth
  • Arthur Jackson
  • Karlyli Juarez
  • Jesse K. Lopez
  • Alejandro Macias Romo
  • Matthew A. Muñoz 
  • Juan Novo
  • Thomas Ratliff
  • Cheryl Robertson
  • Julio Rodriguez
  • Jacqueline  Santiago
  • L. DeVrone Suggs
  • Susan A. Thompson
  • Marina A. Torres
  • Erika Ventura
  • Monica Villareal


  • Patty Barnes
  • Sandra Brown
  • Alejandra Castellano
  • Cincy Chavez-Wiechec
  • Fermin Coronado
  • Casey J. Davis
  • Javier Diaz-Tornez
  • Ashley Givens
  • Lynnette Gulley
  • Jeancarlo Guzman
  • Linda Harris
  • Veronica Harvey
  • Chetiqua Matthews Herron
  • Mohammad Din Islam
  • Carla Jackson
  • Lou Ann James
  • Donald Kesterson
  • Tracy Lee
  • Lisa Lyle
  • Barbara Partaka
  • Michael Rains
  • Jessica Ramirez 
  • Shiya Rawls-Speed
  • Tiffany Reno
  • Blanca Muñoz Rodriguez
  • Timothy Rychlec
  • Adrienne Shanklin-Miles
  • Caroline Smith
  • Kenneth Smith
  • Cynthia Vargas
  • Stephen D. Vega
  • Yvonne Vega
  • Dr. Daniel Villanueva Jr.
  • Cheyvonna Williams


  • Victor Duarte, Master of Arts, Higher Education Administration, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Gabriela Estrada, Bachelor of Arts, Fine Arts, Cum Laude, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Thomas Genoso, Master of Security Management, Cybersecurity, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Ashely Givens, Master of Arts, Higher Education Administration, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Stefany Guzman, Master of Business Administration, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Norman Harris, Master of Arts, Nonprofit Management, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Isaiah Hernandez, Master of Science, Computer Science, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Tracy Lee, Bachelor of Science, Interdisplinary Studies, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Barbara Partaka, Bachelor of Science, Sociology, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Madeline Quintanilla, Bachelor of Business Administration, Management, University of Houston-Downtown
  • Mariah Scott, Master of Public Administration, University of Houston-Downtown


  • Ruby LaCour-Tyler


  • Student Success Award: Karlyli Juarez
  • Leadership Award: LaTandra Semiens
  • Rookie of the Year: Jessica Acuña 
  • Goes the Extra Mile: Jesus Kargue


  • Albert Holden
  • Jesus Kargue
  • Daniel Ko
  • Christopher Latson
  • Michael Rains
About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.