As a reminder of this inclusive environment, over the next year you will see individuals featured on this webpage, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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”
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.”
B.S. in Industrial Design (2018)
Student Supervisor – Outdoor Adventure
“It feels good to make it.”
B.B.A in Business Administration, B.S. in Political Science (2016)
Building Supervisor - Operations
“What I really value is providing a welcoming atmosphere.”
M.A. in Sport & Fitness Administration (2016)
Graduate Assistant Director - Fitness
“Campus Recreation is all about the opportunities.”
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.”