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Jaha Williams
Division of Advancement and External Relations
One Main Street, Suite S-990
Houston, Texas 77002-1001
Office: 713-221-8184
Fax: 713-226-5295

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Alumni News & Notes

For those of you who are recent graduates of the University of Houston-Downtown, the following stories may sound familiar. For others, they may bring back fond memories. Regardless of your graduation date, we think these alumni video stories from past commencements are encouraging, inspiring and worth repeating.

Mary Flood has moved from the Houston Chronicle to the downtown Houston office of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing. Her new title is Legal Media Consultant. Her office does media relations, marketing and branding for lawyers and law firms along with crisis communication and litigation media strategies. The firm also serves as a legal source bank for reporters and provides regular legal story idea tip sheets to reporters.

Alumna Salma Akbar Rivzi Salma Akbar Rivzi ('04) received the regional top teacher award at the 2010 National Engineers' Week Future City Competition. Rivzi, a science teacher at Al-Hadi School of Accelerated Learning in Houston, coordinated her school's participation. The team had the highest overall combined score of Houston-area schools at the contest.

Scott Belshaw ('94, Social Science) received his doctorate in juvenile criminal justice from Prairie View A&M University and is now an assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of North Texas. Belshaw teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the criminal justice program. Belshaw has published numerous articles in criminal justice and education related journals.

Laura Ramirez ('99) was recently named principal of Southwest Elementary charter school in Houston. In addition, she was accepted to the education doctorate in Executive Leadership program at the University of Houston. Since graduating from UHD, she has obtained two master's degrees from the University of Houston-Victoria in Counseling and Administration and Supervision.

Sheralyn Littles ('08), has worked in Financial Aid since she was a student assistant, and now she's a full-time employee and is responsible for making sure people don't default on their student loans.

Alumus Robert Quarles Robert Quarles ('08, B.S. in Political Science) started a new position in August 2009 as field director for U.S. Congressman Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. Quarles works out of Olson's Sugar Land office.

Hazel Camilla Hill ('03) is a secondyear graduate student with Liberty Online Learning and is working toward her master's degree in the professional counseling program.

William "Blake" Cook ('02, B.S. in Criminal Justice) is a special agent with the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service and recently returned to the United States after a one-year assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. He is now assigned to the Philadelphia office of the Service.

ExxonMobil Alumni President Bill Flores along with Career Development Center and College of Business representatives hosted a breakfast for a group of UHD alumni who work for ExxonMobil. Dr. Flores, far right, shared his vision for the university and listened to comments from alumni about their UHD experience. A large number of UHD alumni are employed at ExxonMobil and the company representatives have been active in the Career Development Center's Career Expo interviewing students and providing internships.

Two UHD graduates wrote to the UHD Alumni LinkedIn site recently after the university won a nearly $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to study why females leave STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers and programs. Cynthia Buchanan, a 1988 UHD graduate with an applied mathematics degree with computer science, said she routinely attended math classes with few or no other women. "It was difficult to avoid the 'you're a woman, you should teach' pitfall," Buchanan wrote. But she stuck with it and now works as a senior IT project manager at Technip in a mainly male data center work environment. "UHD was one of the few places that encouraged me to stay with the applied mathematics degree program, although the student climate was tough. My professors at UHD taught me to disregard the gender and give my all to every assignment." Another graduate, Julie Wilcox, graduated in 1987 with a second degree in applied mathematics and computer science. She wrote that at the time she received her undergraduate degree, "Going on to a graduate or doctorate in my discipline was not financially attractive."

Alumnus Phillip Ellison ('94 ) was hired as director of supply chain services for the Spring Independent School District in July. His areas of responsibility include contracts, purchasing, distribution services and textbook warehousing and distribution. He also oversees the inventory distribution center, print shop and records management. Ellison majored in purchasing and materials management at UHD (now supply chain management), later earning his MBA from the University of Houston's Bauer College of Business in 2006. He is a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) through the Institute for Supply Management.

Alumni Sarah Puente and Edward Gonzalez Alumna Sandra Puente ('09) served as Houston City Council member Edward Gonzalez's ('00) campaign manager. She also is the statewide field director for Texas ACORN.

Victor H. Loredo ('98), graduate with a BBA in Accounting, and Deyanira Zamora Loredo ('99 & '04), graduate with a BS & MS in Criminal Justice, welcomed a precious baby girl named Victoria Susana Loredo on May 12, 2009, she weighed 7 lbs. 3 oz. and was 19 inches long.

Alumnus Orlando Zambrano Orlando Zambrano was a UHD political science major and finished in the Summer II session 2008. He has been accepted to Baylor Law School and will start in February. "Thank you for wanting to add me in the New Horizons, it's very exciting. I have not yet began law school as I decided to go to Baylor Law School and they accepted me in the spring quarter….Since graduation I have self-prepared for and taken the LSAT, applied to several schools and am getting ready to make the move to Waco. I was a volunteer for the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) and served as a driver in both of their motorcades. I also volunteered for Councilman James Rodriguez, and was an intern for the Mayor's office of Boards and Commissions."

Theresa Bailey Feldmann ('88) reports she finished medical school, has been married for 10 years, has three children and resides on 14 acres in southeast New Hampshire, not far from Boston. She and her husband built a house for their family and both of their moms. "Personally, I miss Texas weather and the friendliness of the people," she said. "Once my youngest starts first grade, it's back to work for me." Her family also includes three dogs, three cats and one hermit crab.

Samuel "Wheeler" Sexton accepted a position with ExxonMobil. Sexton was a computer information systems major. He worked as an intern with the company while at UHD. He regularly represents ExxonMobil during UHD's Career Expos.

Darrell Wilcox graduated from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston this spring. Wilcox earned a business degree at UHD, and received the Jim Stafford Scholarship in 2005. He is a former Army Ranger and has twin girls with wife Cyndi Wilcox.

Willie Huggins ('05) received his master of business administration degree in human resource management from the Hagan School of Business at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. He recently published a book of poetry, "Treading Surfaces: The Devolution of a Poet," which is listed on

Jennifer Hanna ('03) was promoted to manager in the Not-for-Profit and Government Group of the accounting firm BKD LLP. She has provided audit and consulting services to governmental entities for six years with BKD, and lives in Richmond with her husband, Chris.

Miquel Correll is exhibiting ceramic pottery and bowls at the Green House Gallery in Houston as part of the "Enter the Woods" show.

Joseph Middleton won fourth place in the statewide Clifton Caldwell historical competition for his essay on racial conflict at Texas Southern University in 1967. The essay will be published in the next issue of "Touchstone," a journal of the Texas State Historical Association.

Trazanna Moreno, a graduate with a Master of Science in Professional Writing and Technical Communication degree, became the associate superintendent of community relations for Klein Independent School District on July 1.

The Texas A&M Board of Regents named former UHD physics professor R. Bowen Loftin the interim president of Texas A&M University on June 15. While at UHD, Loftin twice won the school's Award for Excellence in Teaching and Service. Most recently, he served as the vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University's branch campus in Galveston.

UHD graduate Mike Thaler was sworn in as Police Chief of Pasadena. Thaler attended Sam Houston State University for two years before joining Houston Police Department and transferring to University of Houston-Downtown, where he earned a degree in criminal justice. He later earned a master's degree in psychology from Sam Houston State. During his career in HPD he progressed from officer to sergeant to lieutenant to captain, finally serving as an assistant chief then executive assistant chief.

Alumnus Jorge I. Ruiz will be one of the 2009 recipients of the Hogg Foundation Bilingual Scholarship at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. "Thank you for all of your knowledge and support. I owe all of my academic skills to the great Professors at UHD," Ruiz wrote.

Tuwana Hudson was a political science major at UHD, a single mom who wanted to improve her life and the life of her daughter through education. She graduated in 2003, worked on several political campaigns and was admitted to the South Texas College of Law. She graduate last December, passed the Bar exam on her first attempt and now has a civilian position with the U.S. Navy's Office of General Counsel doing environmental law in Washington, D. C.

Edward Gonzalez is the new city of Houston City Council member from District H. He graduated from UHD in 2000 with a bachelor of science in criminal justice degree. He also has a master's degree in political science from the University of St. Thomas. He served on the Houston Police Department for 18 years. He was a homicide investigator and a member of the department's elite Hostage Negotiation Team.

Edmundo Sanchez sent the following note: "As a recent criminal justice major graduate in December 2008, I accepted employment as an embedded Law Enforcement Professional (LEP) with U.U. military units in Iraq.  I am basically doing the same functions as when I was employed as a U.S. federal law enforcement officer for 26 years.  I am investigating major crimes committed by criminals and/or insurgents who have harmed/killed or will attempt to harm/kill any U.S. soldiers, Iraqi police and/or Iraqi military personnel. It is very challenging as one has to deal with different cultures, customs, and the language.  I have established a sound working relationship with the Iraqi police (with) whom we exchange information on suspected criminals/insurgents.  The Iraqi police will then seek to obtain an arrest warrant from an Iraqi judge to hold these criminals in jail pending a trial.  Best Regards, Ed."

Diana M. Bowler ('91, BA General Business) has been named broker-in-charge of Prudential Carolinas Realty's Rock Hill sales office. Bowler was an award-winning sales associate at Prudential Carolinas Realty's South Park sales office prior to assuming her new leadership role. She has extensive real estate experience in the Rock Hill area.

Stephanie Chadwick ('06, BS Humanities) was awarded a $2,000 national Phi Kappa Phi 2007 Award of Excellence. Every year, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society awards forty $2,000 Awards of Excellence to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study. Applicants are evaluated based on numerous factors, including academic recognition and awards, campus and community involvement, leadership experiences, and quality and scope of proposed program. Stephanie is at Florida State University studying for her master's degree in art history. She has taken a research assistantship in the department, as well. Among other honors and awards, Stephanie was a 2005 Red Rose Scholar.

Schivonne Cunningham ('06, BS Professional Writing) has accepted a position as Marketing Coordinator for the Houston Rockets. She writes copy for television and radio spots, monitors commercial broadcast placements and is the Creative Project Coordinator. She also oversees graphics requests for flyers, brochures and print ads and works closely with the Power Dancers and Little Dippers.

Steven Vertucci ('00, BBA Accounting) began his career at Malone & Bailey PC in 1999 as a staff accountant while still attending class in the evening. That did not stop him from being a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi. Through his hard work and dedication, he became a member of the managment group in 2004 and, in March of 2007, Steven was promoted to Partner. He is an active member of the AICPA and the Texas Society of CPA's.

Albert Burgos ('07, BBA General Business), Neil Churaman ('05, BBA Computer Information Systems) and Omair Khan ('06, BBA Computer Science) are employed by ExxonMobil. They join a strong cadre of UHD alums at the most profitable company in the Fortune 500, with $39.5 billion in 2006 earnings.

What's new with you? Send information about your promotions, awards, marriages, babies, relocations, engagements and other items of note to:

UHD Alumni
University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Street, Suite S-990
Houston, Texas 77002

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Last updated or reviewed on 5/8/13

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