As a reminder of this inclusive environment, over the next year you will see individuals featured on this web-page, on social media and on posters in the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center who participate in Campus Recreation in their own unique way. Behind these pictures, each individual has their own story of why they are here. The purpose of sharing these with you is to expose you to all that we have to offer and to encourage you to experience it yourself and find your place within Campus Recreation.

Marissa Gonzalez

B.A. Public Relations (2018)

Marissa Gonzalez was the Social Media Strategist at the UH Campus Recreation center for this past year and was responsible for re-launching our “I’m Here To” campaign. Marissa shares a behind-the-scenes look at her process for managing the Rec’s most prided campaign: She searches for people who find comfort in going to our facility, who see it as a home away from home of sorts. She then interviews said individual and photographs them engaging in what they enjoy the most about the Rec. With these two articles, she writes their story and shares it to all of our followers on our social media profiles and website during a scheduled #WYSW (What’s Your Story Wednesday). Marissa describes working at the rec as “fun and exciting every single day,” and it has helped her grow as both a professional and an individual. Outside of work, she enjoys aerial yoga, concerts, exploring the city, and spending time with her family. While working with us has been described as a great experience for Marissa, we would describe it as an even more so incredible experience for our facility. Marissa leaves behind an excellent legacy in her contributions to the UH Rec and we can only imagine the way she will impact the world the way she has impacted all of us.

“This campaign has been my baby. Throughout managing it, I learned that I enjoy capturing people’s stories.”

Joseph Secrest

Joseph Secrest is our Fitness Coordinator for campus recreation and he is a man of education and inspiration. He completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University with honors while playing football. During this time he was able to attain numerous fitness certifications, won academic awards, and published his new found love of research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. He enjoys meeting new people and finding out what they have to teach them because he believe everyone has something special about them. Joseph is here to be closer to his family, progress professionally, and earn his Ph.D. from the University of Houston all while remaining dedicated to student success. He is adamant about giving students the tools they need to succeed and advising them to be more than what they see in the mirror. The Rec provides him the ideal opportunity to apply his knowledge and experience to help hundreds of students make more informed decisions where they truly understand what is going on and what it could mean for them in the future. He makes people better both inside and out and there is no such thing as leaving his office in under 20 minutes. Joseph is a role model to those around him the example of what it means to be a powerhouse.”

"First you must learn the rules of the game, and then you can play it better than everyone else."

Haley Vyrostek

B.A. Broadcast Journalism (2018)

Haley Vyrostek was excited to come to the University of Houston because to her, HTX was a city filled with opportunities where she could not only go to school and also be near her family. When she first came to the Rec she was shocked and excited by the ability to have full access to the incredible gym facility that was included in her tuition. Self-described as having a "work hard play hard" personality, Haley loves being able to work out between classes, exercise with her friends, and unwind after class at the leisure pool. Ultimately, Haley is motivated by pushing herself, whether it's at her broadcasting internship with Fox 26 News or while running on the track, she seizes the opportunity to succeed. She is a broadcast journalism major who hopes to become a news reporter when she graduates in May 2018, “I hope to one day be a host for a national show.”

"Each time I go to the gym, I know I’m building onto the best version of myself."

Jonathon Hart

Jonathan Hart became enthusiastic about fitness in his freshman year of high school. After his football season was over, he decided he would work out in the off season to get stronger and improve his skills. The results were noticeable. “After a while I just fell in love with working out,” he says. His love for exercise continued into his college years, where he currently studies at HCC to become a firefighter. He intends to transfer to UH after finishing the program. He is currently sponsored by a friend to continue his fitness journey in our facility. He loves the rec’s fitness area because he feels the facility is nice and it has a lot of value. For Jonathan, the rec center is a comfortable, judgment-free place where guidance is available when needed.

"My strive to be successful in life and to be able to help give back to the people that have helped me through my journey."

Tin Pham-Tran and Eunice Caducoy

Over the past two weeks we introduced you to Eunice and Tin. Now, we’re going to show you their story together as ballroom dance partners. The pair has danced together for almost four years and has gone on to do approximately 20 competitions together at collegiate, regional and national levels. They've won quite a few competitions, as they recently competed at the Southeastern Dancesport Championship in Birmingham, Alabama and placed in Top 3 with multiple gold medals. After both of them had to separately overcome the challenge of adjusting to a new country, they were able to conquer the rigors of ballroom dance together and thrive while doing it.”Dancing with Eunice is a journey with loads of fun,” says Tin. “She works hard and her determination is unquestionable.”

“I'm forever grateful to be able to dance with someone with such great talent.”

Tin Pham-Tran

B.A. Architecture (2015)
B.S. Hotel and Restaurant Management (2020)

Tin Pham-Tran graduated from the University of Houston from the College of Architecture and is currently working towards his post-baccalaureate in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He moved to the states from Vietnam when he was 16 years old and has had a passion for dance since he was 5 years old. In late 2012 he started ballroom dancing at the rec center to relieve stress, and later became president of the UH ballroom dancing club for two years during his undergraduate career. That is where he met his current dance partner, Eunice, and since then, they have danced at approximately 20 competitions at the collegiate, regional and national levels. Tin is motivated by achievement and strives to improve his performance. His goal is to inspire others using dance. After graduating, he became team captain, and now while doing his post-baccalaureate in Hotel and Restaurant Management he is the ballroom dancing coach and competition director.


“The feeling of being able to dance with my heart out on the dance floor and using my passion to inspire others motivates me to be a better dancer every day.”

Eunice Caducoy

B.S. Biochemistry (2015)

Eunice Caducoy graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in biochemistry in 2015. She was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Houston seven years ago. Ballroom dancing has been a major part of her life since she decided to join the Cougar Dance Sport Club in fall of 2013 and later became the Vice-President from fall 2014 to spring 2015. But Eunice got her feet wet with dancing long before coming to the U.S., “I took a beginner Latin ballroom dance workshop back in the Philippines before moving here.” Aside from using exercise as a way to relax and have fun, her main goal is to get stronger. Whether it’s by improving her dancing technique or increasing her cardio endurance, she cares about giving a strong performance.

Eunice is currently a research lab technician at the Baylor College of Medicine and continues to be a member of the ballroom dance club.

“The rec is a go-to place for my health needs.”

Rubyann Rodriguez

B.B.A Marketing (2019)

Before RubyAnn Rodriguez began dancing, she was shy and quiet. All has changed once she began watching Youtube videos and discovered the dance style, pop and lock at the age of thirteen. Dance brought her out of her shell and made her an outgoing people-person. When she began her studies at the University of Houston, she was in for a similar challenge. When she came inside of the rec for the first time she thought, “It was huge and I wanted to try everything.” Since then, she’s tried a variety of activities, including badminton, intramural sports and rock climbing. One of her favorite memories is playing intramural softball with her brother and almost hitting a home run.
Her experiences have led her with a goal in mind, to improve her health. She decided to not only do so by working out, but also by cutting out foods with harsh chemicals and artificial products from her diet. She’s been a pescatarian since December 2017. “I am eating healthier than I ever have.” The rec has become a place for her to clear her mind, and, like dancing, it has also boosted her confidence. Since coming to the Rec she’s, “not afraid to work out around a crowd.”

“It was huge and I wanted to try everything.”

Rudy Rodriquez

Billy Graves

M. A. Applied Economics (2018)

Billy Graves is a master’s student in applied economics who takes his education very seriously. “I am first and foremost a student,” said Billy, but when he does have free time, he comes to the Rec to relax by climbing or playing badminton. Whether it’s in economics or rock climbing, Billy enjoys the challenge. “You can look at a rock and try to find your own way up it. It’s different for almost every person and just the very idea of solving that puzzle and pushing your whole body to new limits is something that is amazing.” He started spending so much time at the rec that he decided to put his climbing skills to use by getting a job in the department of Outdoor Adventure. Billy also became the leader of the climbing club.
For Billy, the rec has become not only a place to get in shape, but also to increase his confidence in his knowledge of the outdoors, to have fun on OA trips and competitions and lastly, to bond with his co-workers. “My department really feels like a family.” His ultimate goal is to obtain a PhD and become a professor in economics. Billy navigates his studies and his career path with the same mentality he uses on the climbing wall: “It may be a while until I get there, but I’ll find a way.”

Rae is currently a promotions assistant at iHeartMedia and is a Zumba instructor inside the Wells Fargo Plaza!

“It may be a while until I get there, but I’ll find a way.”

Billy Graves

Rae Tolbert

B.A. Broadcast Journalism (2016)

Rae Tolbert is a University of Houston alumna who graduated with a bachelors degree in broadcast journalism. She was very involved in our facility, as she was a fitness attendant and Zumba instructor. One of her biggest goals was to make connections. She wanted to meet new people, socialize with her existing friends and co-workers. She felt that it was important for her to make her group fitness class feel welcome and comfortable. One way she would unite rec members was through using her social media. She would post photos with her Zumba classes and use our “#UHRec” hash tag. Her priority was to make sure her class felt united. Another way Tolbert connected with others was by arriving 30 minutes early before a shift so she had time to catch up and socialize with her pals and co-workers. “I would sit outside and talk to friends because once a shift ends and another starts, there isn’t much time to talk. The rec was our meet up spot.” Tolbert was also heavily involved on campus. She was apart of The Coog Radio and blogging team.

Rae is currently a promotions assistant at iHeartMedia and is a Zumba instructor inside the Wells Fargo Plaza!

“The Rec was our meet-up spot.”

Rae Tolbert

Chase Ligon

B.S. Kinesiology (2020)

“As a fitness program assistant and a Marine Officer Candidate, I’m in a position where people are relying on the decisions that I make. Failure is unacceptable.”

Chase Ligon moved to Houston in 2005 from New Orleans and has wanted to be in the Marines his entire life. He grew up looking up to his grandfather’s example. He was selected to be in the Marine Officer Candidate School and is currently training to become a Marine Officer. He aspires to become a Special Operations Force RECON.

Chase exercises six to eight times per week and stays motivated by fearing failure. He believes the rec has allowed for him to grow not only physically, but also mentally and socially. It has given him an overall sense of community. Before the rec, he had never worked out at a large gym with big equipment, coming from a guy with a high school graduating class of seven. Chase is a sophomore majoring in Kinesiology in the Honors College.

“My major isn’t my career; my career is the marines”

Asha Marchant

Asha Marchant

B.A. Kinesiology (2019)

"I needed to start taking the lead on my fitness regimen.” Asha Marchant was motivated to come to the rec as a way to prepare for her future and continue to uphold an active lifestyle. Her first encounter with our facility was intimidating because she had never formally worked out in a gym. Soon enough, her perception was swayed by her friends. She started attending group fitness classes and found Zumba to be her favorite along with Pilates and Yoga. She feels fitness classes are a great way to have fun while getting a workout in at the same time. Asha is a kinesiology major and wants to become a physical therapist in the future. Physical therapy requires you to have a strong body capable of moving and supporting patients and the rec helps her prepare for that. Asha has a strong passion for mixed martial arts and has practiced since she was in the fourth grade. Asha and her family are each trained first degree black belts.

“Physical therapy requires you to have a strong body capable of moving and supporting patients and the rec helps her prepare for that.”

Asha Marchant

Defe Aleladia

BSCE Chemical Engineering (2019)

Being promoted to a Building Supervisor at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center has been a positive impact on Defe Aleladia’s life. It’s pushed him to become a better communicator, to step out of his comfort zone and has also given him many friendships. He used to be shy and timid, but all has changed since he began working at the rec center in the fall semester of 2016. Defe states, “I saw a big improvement in my health ever since I started coming here regularly. My social life also improved.”

He has a Nigerian citizenship and came to America in pursuit of more career opportunities as well as to obtain the best education he can get.

Defe is majoring in chemical engineering and aspires to become a process engineer in the oil and gas industry for Chevron.

“I saw a big improvement in my health ever since I started coming here regularly.”

Defe Aleladia

Brooklin Corbins

B.S. Public Relations and Sports Administration (2018)

Brooklin Corbins is a senior double majoring in public relations and sports administration, who dedicated four plus years of her life at the Campus Recreation. She explained that the rec helped her develop into the person she now is. It pushed her to grow and become a leader. It motivated her to become heavily involved on campus: interning for the UH Athletics Department for three years, become the Director of Marketing for homecoming in 2015, chair for homecoming in 2016 and become the Vice President of Membership in her sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma for three years. She’s thankful for the connections and relationships she gained with: Director of Member Services, Jean Sanders, Assistant Director of Marketing, Victoria Avila, and Assistant Vice President of Health and Wellness, Floyd Robinson. She is grateful to have been a rec employee and believes, “the rec is the core of my time here at the University of Houston.” Brooklin aspires to travel the world and is looking forward to venture to Jamaica this coming February.

"The rec is my UH identity.”

Brooklin Corbins

Mohammad Ullah

B.S. Political Science and Economics
M.S. Applied Economics
J.D. (2019)

Mohammad Ullah is a second year law student who has a bachelor's degree in political science and economics and a masters in applied economics. Mohammad has had an interest in law since high school and feels he’s always had keen insight for injustice. Whether he is at the rec for a workout, practicing Wushu, or running on the track, he is here 2-4 days a week. He’s been a member of our Wushu Kung Fu Club for the past three years and feels that Wushu and practicing law are both a huge part of his life.“If I could be a Wushu attorney I would. I want to be an attorney who fights for his clients and an athlete who practices the sport he loves.” To him, one of the best parts about Wushu is the positive environment while competing. For instance, everyone cheers for each other, no matter the outcome. He hopes to carry on what he’s learned from Wushu into his career. He’s learned to defend himself, which inspires him to defend others by practicing law. Mohammad believes the rec exemplifies diversity. “The rec is where people of different majors, ages, color, sizes and interests unite.” Mohammad aspires to be able to practice real-estate law in Texas, be able to do pro bono work, and to try out for the Wushu World Championships in 2019.

I want to be an attorney who fights for his clients and an athlete who practices the sport he loves.

Madiha Faisal

B.B.A. Finance (2020)

“Music gives me the energy to do things.” Madiha Faisal states that she shares an intense passion for music because she feels she can truly connect with it. Bollywood dancing, photography and fitness in general are things that Madiha enjoys participating in her free time. As a freshmen, her first impression of the rec was that it was intimidating by its large size. Her perception changed as time went on, with the help of her friends. She feels that the rec is now her “safe area,” and a place where she can transform a bad day into a better one. It’s the spot where she can not only build confidence, but also maintain it. “If I ever have spurs of doubt, I come to the gym and build up my confidence again.” Madiha is currently a fitness zone attendant here at the rec. She’s a sophomore and pre-business student who’s interested in pursuing a degree in Finance.

If I ever have spurs of doubt, I come to the gym and build up my confidence again.

Christian Beduya

B.B.A Finance (2019)

Christian Beduya came from the Philippines in 2003 with a family purpose of finding a better life and more opportunities. The opportunity to excel and lead within the University of Houston has allowed Christian to be heavily involved with several student organizations. He co-founded, Cougar Creative Marketing Firm, which is the first student-run marketing firm in the Houston area, was a member of the Investment Banking Scholars Club, Asian Business Student Organization, participated in the Student Government Association, the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, and is currently the Vice Chair of Marketing for the Energy Coalition, the largest student organization in the nation. His mentors play a big role in his life. One of the best pieces of advice that they have given him is to find ways to sharpen his tools mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. He’s a firm believer that there’s a difference between being busy and being productive. Learning to distinguish between the two are a student’s biggest challenge. “We must all learn to sharpen our tools every once in awhile. Meaning that we must find time to do the things we enjoy such as hobbies.” Christian is currently a Building Supervisor here at the rec and says the rec is the perfect place for him to “de-stress.” He’s able to release stress, engage in the rec community, as well as set time aside for his fitness activities.

We must all learn to sharpen our tools every once in awhile.

Melanee Wood

Assistant Director, Fitness (2010-2017)

Melanee Wood dedicated the past seven years of her life as the Assistant Director for Fitness at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. Her job description was not one of responsibilities, but rather a parade of daily adventures in which she intentionally tried to educate and inspire everyone she came into contact with. She managed the day-to-day operations of our fitness zone, certification classes, fitness outreach, group fitness, and personal training programs before the fitness program altogether grew to the point of her position getting reclassified. She played an integral role in the measured growth of our fitness participation; having grown by 230 percent since she started. However, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention her impact on the Houston community and the intangible effects she had on the countless students she has mentored. Both on paper and in the air Melanee is a beacon of success for those who realize what she has done and what is capable of. She is from Cleveland, Ohio and graduated with a bachelor’s in Exercise Science and master’s in Adventure Recreation from Miami University in Ohio. She happened to meet the previous rec director in an elevator during a NIRSA conference and earned an informal interview the next day from her elevator pitch. She always exuded a passion for student development and felt it was her privilege to serve in that capacity. She enjoyed having teachable moments in which she gave her students the tools to make the informal decision on what best suits their needs. This dedicated effort created impactful moments that spurred the success of many students to attain further education and be positive additions to the work force. The rec was not only a place of work for Melanee but also a place where she turned her dreams into reality. She trained to compete in three bikini body building competitions, a full marathon, a triathlon, and 13 half marathons. “Before I got into fitness, I was obese. The start of my fitness journey was my personal weight loss. It empowered me to change my own life as it set me on a mission to help others to live the best they can because I’ve experienced it myself and know how amazing it is.” Melanee is now an entrepreneur and owner of a personal meal prep business, Made By Mel. She makes easy, healthy, and tasty accessible meals. We will miss you Melanee and wish you the best of luck in your business!

The start of my fitness journey was my personal weight loss.

Michael Trinh

Economics (2017)

Before Michael Trinh started lifting weights, he was plagued with injuries and wanted that to change. He would get injured while playing sports like football and basketball until he began powerlifting. “I choose to powerlift to train and gain strength. I want to bullet proof my body.” Michael explained that powerlifting has many health benefits including, strengthening the leg muscles, back and upper body. He’s competed once and is currently in training for his second competition. The rec is a place where he can train comfortably. He explained that one of his favorite aspects of competing is being surrounded with like-minded people in one room and sharing the same passion. Weight lifting also provides him with a structure that carries over onto other parts of his life. He explained that it also feeds his mental toughness. “Lifting serves as a constant source of humility because sometimes when failing, it gives me a problem to solve.” Michael is a senior majoring in Economics and is a man of many aspirations. Some include, to be able to provide for his family, set up multiple streams of passive income, and travel the world, particularly to Argentina. He stated that the rec’s atmosphere has changed since he was a freshman. The number of powerlifters has grown immensely and he loves it!

Lifting serves as a constant source of humility because sometimes when failing, it gives me a problem to solve.

Alexis Moran

B.A. Communication – Public Relations (2019)

When the runner up team on the show, America’s Best Dance crew opened their own studio in Houston, Soreal Dance Studio, it was at that moment when Alexis Moran knew she had to pack her bags and move here. Alexis is a sophomore majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing and moved here from San Antonio. She feels that Houston is a place filled with many dance opportunities. After watching the show, she decided she needed to get her training from that exact dance studio. Alexis was not only able to achieve her goal, but also performed at the 2017 Super Bowl. “Dancing at the Super Bowl has definitely been the highlight of my life and dance career.” She’s been dancing since she was 3 years old and has tried it all: from jazz, tap, hip-hop, contemporary, to pointe, but now specializes solely on hip-hop. She’s a hip-hop teacher at a studio in the Houston area and also choreographs for high school dance teams and quinceañeras. The rec is a big part of her life. It’s a place where Alexis auditioned for the Houston Rockets dance team and finished in the top 30. It’s a place where she attends regularly to work on herself and physical appearance.

Uyiosa Elegon

B.B.A Marketing (2020)

For the past 8 years, practicing Chun Kuk Do has been a way that Uyiosa Elegon changes his life. He has had the aspiration to grow as an individual since he was only 12 years old. He’s always been fascinated with ownership of a story. His life has been a constant defining of his own. He states “I often don’t fit the stereotypical Nigerian mold. I don’t aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. I don’t want to hide my emotions. No matter the backlash, I constantly choose my own path.” He continues to work and wake up motivated, empowered, and purpose-driven. He wants other young people to write their own stories. That could involve scratching out their parents goals, editing their educators’ visions, or replacing what their faith leaders say. He does his best to equip the young people in his life with tools to consciously create and own their stories. That is why Uyiosa joined the Youth Empowerment Alliance here at the University of Houston. He is currently the Communications Lead and strives to bring to light the stories of UndocuCoogs. He believes UH can truly work to be an inclusive space through these stories. He feels that the more fit, focused, and faithful he is, the better he can serve his community day-in and day-out. Uyiosa is studying marketing at the C.T. Bauer College of Business with a goal to learn how to make connections more effectively in order to teach young people how to do the same.

I constantly choose my own path.

Kara Bacon

Hotel and Restaurant Manangement (2019)

Gymnastics is a sport that requires balance, strength, flexibility, agility, endurance and control. Kara Bacon has practiced this incredible sport since she was just a toddler attending “Mommy and Me” classes. She continued practicing until she broke her arm in the 7th grade. For Kara, getting the opportunity to join the gymnastics club sport team in the Campus Recreation has been a huge benediction. She’s thankful that the rec offers her the chance to be involved in her favorite sport again. Being a gymnast is a way she relieves stress and gets in shape. Kara is sophomore majoring in Hotel and Restaurant Management and plans on continuing her journey in the club until she graduates.

Getting the opportunity to join the gymnastics club sport team in the Campus Recreation has been a huge benediction.

Tim and Susan Wegner

Thirteen years ago when the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center opened its doors for the first time, Tim and Susan were among the first to enter, and have yet to leave. The gym is conveniently a 10 minute walk from their home and supports the couple’s active lifestyle. They participate in Campus Recreation because having a personal trainer and participating in ashtanga yoga are the foundation of how they plan to age powerfully. We like exercising- both individually and in a class setting- in a multigenerational context that is so convenient to our neighborhood. Having a personal trainer adds extra challenge that we might not regularly require of ourselves.

“We like exercising- both individually and in a class setting- in a multigenerational context that is so convenient to our neighborhood. Having a personal trainer adds extra challenge that we might not regularly require of ourselves.”

Avery D. Gray

B.S. Kinesiology Exercise Science (2017)

Imagine getting the opportunity to travel around the world with your college club sport team. In particular, getting to travel to Barcelona, Spain and watch an El Clasico, FC Barcelona VS. Real Madrid soccer game. For Avery Gray, getting this chance, was one of the most memorable experiences throughout his entire college career. After winning a great season with the UH Men’s soccer team, Avery Gray says farewell to UH but doesn’t leave without first sharing his story with us. Avery has played soccer since he was three years old. He was the captain and MVP of the sport club soccer team here at the rec and aimed to better himself as a person and leader. This past May he walked down the stage and received his Bachelor’s in Physical Therapy. Avery has had a great time at the rec and will miss what he called “his second home.” We will miss you too, Avery and wish you the best of luck as you follow your dream to PT school!

Imagine getting the opportunity to travel around the world with your college club sport team.

Avery D. Gray

Samantha N. Branum

BSME Mechanical Engineer (2019)

First impressions differ after getting to know something better. Samantha Branum a current student studying mechanical engineering, like many, has experienced a change in her perception of the UH Campus Recreation. Her first impression of the rec was that it was a little intimidating yet also motivating during the beginning of her health journey. Seeing people that were committed to exercising and living a healthy lifestyle pushed her to achieve her goals, which are to grow physically, academically and be the best version of herself. Samantha’s views on the rec have changed as time has passed. She shared that she feels much more comfortable and has gained more self-confidence. She comments, “The rec is a place I set my goals and am able to see physical results of me meeting them.” You can find Ms. Branum lifting weights in the fitness zone, but her favorite workout of all is doing back squats.

First impressions differ after getting to know something better.

Samantha N. Branum

Jacob Aguirre

B.S. Kinesiology Exercise Science (2017)

"I lost a total of 70 pounds all on my own through pure intrinsic motivation." Jacob Aguirre is a class of 2017 graduate who majored in Exercise Science. His motivation is wanting to be better than average and trying to utilize his fullest potential. Something very inspiring about Jacob is that he recently lost a total of 70 pounds and did it completely on his own without personal training. Jacob wanted to see how far he could push his body both physically and mentally. An example of how he attained his goal was by running three miles on our indoor track on a daily basis. Jacob enjoys working out and going to the gym in general, but his favorite workout/exercise is the lateral pulldown. He aspires to be a certified personal trainer in both Texas and Florida in the future and intends to open up a personal training practice in South Beach. We congratulate Jacob on his journey to be fit and utilizing the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center to attain his aspirations.

“I lost a total of 70 pounds all on my own through pure intrinsic motivation.”

Jacob D. Aguirre

Sophia R. Aranda

B.A. Communication - Advertising (2019)

"The hardest thing about working out in the morning is getting out of bed. After that it’s a piece of cake!" Sophie, like many finds it nearly impossible to bring herself to wake up early to exercise. She has preferred to work out during the evening since she is not a morning person. All has changed since she decided to really push herself and make a big effort to wake up earlier. Sophie is currently a sophomore here at UH and absolutely loves staying active. She is motivated by being able to grow stronger both physically and mentally. Her favorite sporting activity is to dance, and attend our group fitness classes such as, Zumba and Night Club Cardio with her closest friends. Her most memorable experience here at the rec has been pushing herself to exercise with her pal, Dante every morning this semester. They enjoy various physical pursuits such as, badminton, basketball, lifting weights and ending their workout session by unwinding at the sauna. Her number one goal is to gain muscle mass and build endurance with running. A fun fact about Sophie is that she enjoys getting an assortment of fruit and mixing it with Greek yogurt, with some sprinkles of granola on top.

“The hardest thing about working out in the morning is getting out of bed. After that it’s a piece of cake!” -Wise words of Sophie Aranda.

Sophia Aranda

Alexander A. Tovar

B.A. Intergrated Communications (2017)

"Your only limit is yourself." That is the mantra that Alexander Tovar lives by on a daily basis. Alexander is a recent alum who majored in integrated communications. Something very admirable about him is that he recently lost 110 pounds. He strives to encourage others not to give up on their end goal, just because it did not work out the first few times. He is active in a multitude of activities at the rec including, flag football, table tennis, but his favorite activity is soccer. Alexander’s first impression of the rec was that it was intimidating. He felt it was difficult to workout surrounded by fit people. However, he later realized through his health journey, that himself and others have the same goal in mind: to improve. His favorite part about working out is the beginning and end. The pre-workout walk and the cool-down walk. He loves the excitement of getting his workout started and the satisfaction of unwinding with a walk after a great workout. Some interesting facts about Mr. Tovar are that he was the Vice President of The American Marketing Association, and he uses his brand apparel, Third Ward Athletic, as a soccer team in the rec intramural sports. Alexander stays motivated by his past. Knowing what he has experienced before pushes him to continue his weight loss journey.

“Your only limit is yourself.”

Alex A. Tovar

Dante S. Wheeler

B.B.A. Marketing (2019)

He begins every workout by running a mile because it gets him “pumped” and helps build his stamina. One of Dante’s goals is to decrease his mile time to less than 6 minutes. He is currently a junior majoring in Marketing with a mission to excel in anything he puts his mind to. He stays motivated by the thought of being able to overcome all mental limits he has set for himself. As president of the American Marketing Association, Dante strives to excel with his organization to be among the top 10 chapters internationally. The rec is a place for Dante to unwind from his studies and continue to push his mind and body to reach new limits. He enjoys coming to the rec because he gets the opportunity to witness other patrons’ progress, which motivates him to keep improving.

“I love running the mile”

Dante S. Wheeler

Tayler Banes

B.B.A. Marekting and Entrepreneurship (2018)

The rec is a place where Tayler Banes can escape from the craziness of school and her workload. It’s a place where she can de-stress and let all of her energy out during an intense workout. But most importantly, the rec is a place in which she works on empowering herself. Tayler has three keys to self-empowerment. She feels empowered from working out daily and knowing she contributed that day to her state of health. Secondly by learning something new in class and valuing the opportunity of receiving a college education. And lastly she feels empowered to be her authentic self by being surrounded by the people she loves. Tayler is a big believer of the quote “Carpe diem” by Horace, the Roman poet. She feels it is simple and to the point yet also very impactful. “Every day is a new opportunity to get better or worse, grow or lessen, or become stronger or weaker. By me waking up and attempting to ‘seize the day’ I am able to make the most of everything the day brings.” Tayler is passionate for yoga and golf. Practicing yoga allows her to improve her body and also her psyche. Golf is a sport she grew up playing and feels is a huge part of who she is. Her favorite component about the sport is that golf is a mental game. Tayler is a senior double majoring in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is a current student in the highly ranked Entrepreneurship program, Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship. Tayler feels the University would not be the same without our facility.

“By me waking up and attempting to ‘seize the day’ I am able to make the most of everything the day brings.”

Taylor Banes

Kim Neely

B.S. in Industrial Design (2018)
Student Supervisor – Outdoor Adventure

“It feels good to make it.”

Erika Lord

B.B.A in Business Administration, B.S. in Political Science (2016)
Building Supervisor - Operations

“What I really value is providing a welcoming atmosphere.”

Jeremy Chance

M.A. in Sport & Fitness Administration (2016)
Graduate Assistant Director - Fitness

“Campus Recreation is all about the opportunities.”

Melanee Wood, M.S.

Assistant Director, Fitness

“The Rec Center was a place for me that I could go and make connections with other students and help people live a healthier life.”