Winners of 2018 Leadership and Service Awards Exemplify Islander Spirit

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – What does it take to make a great leader? The answers are found within the distinguished individuals whose acts exceed expectations and exemplify the core qualities of Islander spirit. Honoring Islander students, faculty and staff for their Islander spirit and positive impact to campus life, the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Division of Student Engagement and Success (SEAS) held its 2018 Leadership and Service Awards on April 27, in the University Center. Award recipients and nominees were chosen based on outstanding leadership through their respective initiatives and a desire to foster a campus community that engages students.

“Hundreds of events and projects take place each year; most of them are created and put on by students,” said Dr. Don Albrecht, vice president of SEAS. “This ceremony acknowledges all of our students for their efforts and thanks them for their time, energy and commitment to making the University an engaging, fun and vibrant place.”

Katarina Chapa, recipient of the 2018 Vice President for Student Engagement and Success Impact Award, is an Islander student who has great passion for serving campus and the greater Corpus Christi community. She has recruited volunteers and participants for many impactful events such as a canned food drive for the Coastal Bend Food Bank, a book drive for the Early Bird Reader program, the Autism Walk and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s BIG Event. In 2016, the biomedical sciences major was selected as an Outstanding Islander for her work in bringing an Islander-inspired boot to the “Las Botas de Mercedes” project near her hometown in the Rio Grande Valley. Her servant leadership mentality has made her an excellent role model and representative of the University.

Another student who encapsulates Islander spirit is Ariana Rodriguez, recipient of the 2018 Emerging Leader Award. She dedicates tireless hours to empower and enrich the campus community through opportunities that bring awareness and increase philanthropy. Through her role as president of Islander Feminists, she has led her peers to create and host quality events. This past year, they successfully implemented the “At the Intersection of Faith and Feminism” panel that kick-started the Island University’s Women’s History Month celebration and received more than 1,000 donations of pads and tampons for Period Corpus Christi at their “Women’s Trivia Night” event.

“It’s not just me who won but all of us who are a part of Islander Feminists,” said Rodriguez, a senior English major with a minor in women and gender studies. “It’s about what our voices can do together that make a successful organization and improve the community.”

Student organizations have also made significant contributions to the Islander community through commendable operations, programs and services. The Islander Green Team, winner of the 2018 Departmental Student Organization of the Year Award, has taken the lead in sustainability efforts benefitting Islander students, faculty, staff and the overall community. In 2017 alone, they have composted 30,000 pounds of food waste and hosted nearly 40 events to build a more sustainable campus and community. The organization has volunteered with surrounding K-12 schools and community organizations such as the GROW Local South Texas and the South Texas Botanical Gardens and Nature Center to promote environmental stewardship.

“We’re doing things that we’re passionate about and love to do,” said Melissa Zamora, a graduating senior biomedical science major and president of the Islander Green Team. “Being honored this way shows that we are going in the right direction to make sustainable change on campus and we’re ready to come back even stronger next year.”

The complete list of 2018 SEAS Leadership and Service Awards winners include:

  • International Student Organization received the Student Organization of the Year Award
  • Emmanuel “Manny” Guadarrama received the Departmental Organization Advisor of the Year Award for his work with TRIO Islanders
  • Philip Jose, laboratory coordinator of the Department of Life Sciences, received the Student Organization Advisor of the Year Award for his work with the Sea Turtle Club
  • Anyssa Villanueva received the Resident Advisor of the Year Award
  • Mixed Martial Arts received Sports Club of the Year Award
  • Ariana Rodriguez received the Emerging Leader Award
  • Islander Green Team received Departmental Organization of the Year Award
  • Katarina Chapa received the Vice President for Student Engagement and Student Success Impact Award

Additional 2018 award winners include:

  • Joseph Ruiz, associate director of the Office of Financial Assistance, received the Amigo de la Isla Staff Award
  • Dr. Pamela Greene, assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, received the Amigo de la Isla Faculty Award
  • Kathryn Hamilton received the Student Employee of the Year Award
  • Gamma Phi Beta received the Partners in Prevention Award
  • Rachel Pearson received the Sports Club President of the Year Award for her work with the Sailing Club
  • Dr. Lon Seiger, professor in the Department of Kinesiology, received the Sports Club Advisor of the Year for his work with the Sailing Club
  • Jordyn McDaniel, member of Delta Delta Delta, received the Greek Woman of the Year Award
  • Richard Torres, member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, received the Greek Man of the Year Award
  • Omega Delta Phi received the Greek Chapter Excellence Award
  • Justin Chidester received the Pennington Sportsmanship Award
  • Anna Bachman received the DeGaish Leadership Award
  • Angelica Martinez received the Student Engagement and Success Ring Recipient Award
  • Johanna Garcia DuBose, program coordinator II in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, received the Excellence in Disability Access and Inclusion Staff Award
  • Dr. Jeffery Spirko, professional assistant professor of physics and program coordinator, received the Excellence in Disability Access and Inclusion Faculty Award

Also acknowledged at the ceremony were:

  • Student Engagement and Success Leadership Scholarship Recipients
  • Student Endowment Internship Scholarship Recipients
  • The 2018 President’s Volunteer Service Award Recipients

For more information on the 2018 SEAS Leadership and Service Awards, visit