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Honors Graduation Banquet Celebrates Achievements of 135 Graduates

By Mallory Chesser
May 21, 2018

On May 11, 135 new Honors College graduates and nearly 400 of their family members, professors, mentors, and friends gathered in the Grande Ballroom of The Houstonian Hotel to celebrate four years of achievement at the University of Houston. The event, Honors College Graduation Banquet, was emceed by William Monroe, dean of the Honors College, and featured greetings from Paula Myrick Short, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Houston. 

Monroe spoke of the many milestones achieved during the graduates’ four years at UH, including a 75 percent increase in participation in Honors minors and programs, the establishment of a Phi Beta Kappa chapter at the University of Houston, and the Honors College’s top 10 rating in Inside Honors. In total, nearly 450 students graduated with Honors designations this spring, an increase of 50 percent since 2012. 

Brenda Rhoden, assistant dean for student success, presented 18 Areté awards recognizing graduating seniors who have made substantial and sustained contributions to the Honors College during their time at the University. “While every graduate tonight has been an essential member of the Honors College, these 18 students have involved themselves in the life of the College in extraordinary ways,” said Rhoden.

Monroe, Short, and Rhoden were later joined by Stuart Long, associate dean of undergraduate research, and Karen Weber, assistant dean for co-curricular programs, for the presentation of the graduates. Although the 135 graduates in attendance had already walked the stage at commencement, Honors Graduation Banquet is a rite of passage for many Honors students, serving as a satisfying capstone to the journey they began at Honors retreat. 

“The Honors Graduation Banquet has a long history dating back to the late ‘70s,” said Rhoden. “The occasion of a banquet allows us to recognize the graduates individually, in a room with their most passionate supporters and cheerleaders—family, friends, faculty, and staff. Not only do we read their names and award them their Honors certificate, but we recognize their rich academic accomplishments and share their future plans and endeavors.”

Graduating seniors Malik Chambers, Tyler Dorval, and Brinda Penmetsa were honored with Outstanding Senior Service Awards presented by rising senior Monica Marin, an industrial engineering major and president of the Honors Student Governing Board. 

“These students were selected because of their dedication and outstanding service,” said Marin. “They have demonstrated commitment to the success of the Honors College, serving as retreat counselors, mentors, student staff, Bonner leaders, and more. They have exemplified student leadership at the University of Houston.” 

Irene Guenther, professor of European and American history, received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award, which is reserved for a faculty or staff member who has gone above and beyond in the mission of serving students.

“Dr. Guenther teaches one of the most sought out Honors courses and helps students become informed and engaged citizens,” said Marin. “She has helped students coordinate letter writing campaigns to representatives; curated an exhibition that traveled internationally; and given students a creative platform to document historical events.” 

Amid the awards and accolades, Monroe also took a moment to remind students that their time at the University of Houston has amounted to more than a degree: “The resilience you have shown as an undergraduate, paired with the strategies you have learned over the past four years, have equipped you to handle the challenges that will surely come your way. You have acquired knowledge that cannot be unlearned and experiences that can never be taken away.” 

The Honors College 2018 Award Recipients

 Arete Awards 
Ahad Azimuddin
Malik Chambers
Tyler R. Dorval
Christopher Holley
Sylvia Karely Martinez
Hadiqa Memon
Viviane M. Nguyen
Faith Nomamiukor
Nimra Pasha
Brinda Penmetsa
Dane Patrick Ralph
Serrae Reed
Amethyst Rae Rogers
James Anthony Russ
Brennen Simpson
Madeline J. Styskal
Michelle Thane
Danielle Elaine Wills
Christopher K. Wong 

Outstanding Senior Service Award
Malik Chambers
Tyler R. Dorval
Brinda Penmetsa
Distinguished Service Award
Dr. Irene Guenther
Outstanding Thesis Award Recipients
Jacob Rose, “Properties of Strongly Interacting Matter”
Chathuri Wickramaratne, “Confocal Laser Fluorescence Microscopy to Measure Oil Concentration in Treated Produced Water”
Hadiqa Memon, “The Role of Acceptance when Implementing Innovation in Hospitals”
Ahad Azimuddin, “Bangladesh 1971: Narratives of a Forgotten Genocide”
Anjay Batra, “Understanding Genetic Information as Property: Original Ownership, Transfer, and Innovation in the Field of Genetics”
Marina Ibraheim, “The Specificity of Emotion Dysregulation in Adolescents with Borderline Personality Disorder: Comparison with Psychiatric and Healthy Controls.”
Saraa Husain, Babylon to Baghdad”
Micaela Rodriguez, “Experiencing Intersectional Marginality: A First-Generation College Student’s Personal Narrative”