Island University Celebrates Employee Excellence

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In honor of excellence and dedication to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Island University hosted its 23rd annual Employee Excellence Awards ceremony. The festive occasion, held April 26 in the University Center, included a luncheon to recognize the University’s retirees, along with a ceremony to honor faculty and staff excellence, winners of the inaugural Be Well University Cup, employees who have recently earned academic degrees, and a presentation of service pins.

“Whether you are teaching, advising students, managing calendars, reconciling accounts, conducting research, or performing one of the many other tasks that happen on this campus, you are contributing to our University’s mission of unparalleled commitment to student success,” said Dr. Kelly M. Quintanilla, University President and CEO. “I am privileged to work at a place that I consider my home. I hope you all feel the same.”

Faculty Excellence Awards:

Excellence in Creative Activity

  • Dr. Carrie Pierce – Winner
  • Mr. Kelly Russell, Mr. Kevin Loeffler, and Ms. Rosa Lazaro – 2nd Place (for collaborative work)

Excellence in Research & Scholarly Activity

  • Dr. Toshiaki Shinoda – Winner
  • Dr. David Blanke – 2nd Place

Excellence in Teaching Innovation

  • Ms. Jennifer Bray, Dr. Adam Costanzo, Ms. Amanda Marquez, Dr. Eliza Martin – Winners (for collaborative work)
  • Dr. Michelle Maresh-Fuehrer – 2nd Place

Excellence in Service

  • Dr. Corinne Valadez – Winner
  • Dr. Misty Kesterson – 2nd Place

Excellence in Teaching

  • Dr. Xavier Gonzales – Winner

Staff Excellence Award:


  • Elizabeth “Liz” Perez – Winner
  • Veronica Harris – 2nd Place


  • Suzanne Bonds – Winner
  • Marcelina Garza – 2nd Place


  • Edgar De La Garza – Winner
  • Cole Castleberry – 2nd place 

Winner of the inaugural Be Well University Cup, a campus-wide wellness challenge, was the “EM-Powering Team,” composed of employees from admissions, financial assistance, and the testing office. The highest scoring individual member of the EM-Powering team was Michelle Cervantes.

The Parade of Achievers, recent or upcoming graduates who are also University employees, were also given a special token of achievement. The group was one of the largest in recent history, earning a combined five bachelor’s degrees, 18 master’s degrees, and two doctorates.

The afternoon ended with a presentation of service pins for employees who have reached five-year milestones. This group included 20 employees who were part of the cohort who began in 1994, the year A&M-Corpus Christi added its first freshman class. This group included Dr. Quintanilla. Dr. Paul Hain, former Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities who hired Quintanilla in 1994 as a new assistant professor, was invited to present her with her service pin.

The group of employees with the longest tenure included those who have worked at A&M University-Corpus Christi for 30 years. They included Irene Chamberlain, Ann DeGaish, Jeannie Gage, and Dr. Blair Sterba-Boatwright.

The annual Retiree Luncheon and Employee Excellence Awards are organized by the Department of Human Resources.

“Taking time to celebrate academic achievements, service milestones, and excellence is important to our HR mission of cultivating a work environment that positively influences our students,” said Debra Cortinas, Director of Human Resources. “Our annual awards ceremony is a TAMU-CC tradition that brings employees together for fun and festivities.”