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Sunday , July 22 2018
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UTEP Athletics to Host Season Ticket Pickup Party

On Wednesday, August 1, fans can pick up their 2018 UTEP football season tickets and receive a special “thank you” for supporting the Miners.

Paid season tickets will be available for pickup at the Larry K. Durham Center between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Fans who pick up their tickets will receive UTEP Athletics giveaways while supplies last.

 The Season Ticket Pickup Party will feature special appearances from the cheerleaders and Paydirt Pete, and UTEP football coaches will be on hand to interact with Miner fans.  KOFX 92.3 FM will be on-site in the morning.

 UTEP football season tickets start at just $66 and family packs (two adults/two youth ages 12 and under) are available for $210. 

The Miners will host six home games including Northern Arizona (Sept. 1), NM State (Sept. 22), North Texas (Oct. 6), UAB (Oct. 27), Middle Tennessee (Nov. 10) and Southern Miss (Nov. 24).

For more information, would-be ticket buyers can call (915) 747-6150 today to reserve tickets.

Miner Athletic Club Offering ‘#EPMAD’ Socks for $100 Donation

As UTEP Athletics strives to compete at the highest level both on and off the playing field, the Miner Athletic Club is ‘working their socks off’ to support the Miners.

With a goal of  4,000 supporters in mind, the MAC is offering limited-edition socks, featuring the #EPMAD – Every Person Makes A Difference – slogan on the side.

According to MAC offcials, “Having 4,000 supporters will put us at the top of Conference USA and make a statement that UTEP donors and fans believe in making a positive impact on Miner Athletics.”

“We have hit the ground running and have reached 25 percent of this goal….we are working our socks off and need your help,” officials added.

To contribute to the MAC, click here.   There is a limit of one (1) pair of socks per account, while supplies last

For more information, please call the Miner Athletic Club at 915-747-6787 or

Gallery: UTEP Releases Photo of New Football Helmets

UTEP officials gave Miner fans a look at the new helmets for the 2018 Season via a Twitter Post Tuesday afternoon.

While the familiar ‘UTEP’ with a pick for a ‘t’ returns, the new shade of orange is sure to get fans talking.

 Check out some of the previous UTEP helmets/color combos via the photos below.

Ice Miners Announce 2018-19 Conference Schedule

Monday afternoon, the UTEP Hockey Club announced the conference schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 campaign.

The Miners kick off conference play on the road. UTEP will play game one of the two game series against Texas State Friday, September 28 at The Pond in Austin, Texas. The Miners fell to the Bobcats, 4-2, during the first road trip last season.

However, the Miners won the following three games, including a sweep at home where the Miners tallied 26 goals.

Closing out the first weekend, the Miners will visit the Chaparral Ice rink in Austin, Texas, with a two-game series against division rival the Texas Longhorns, September 29-30. Last season, the Miners swept the Longhorns at home and split the series on the road with a 4-1 win.

The Miners will have to wait until the second semester to play the Longhorns at home, January 14-15.

Following a week off, the Miners will head back out on the road to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies, October 12-13, at the Spirit Ice Arena.

The Aggies swept the Miners during week one last season, but the Miners got redemption and swept the Aggies in El Paso, 3-1 and 5-4. The Miners met the Aggies during the first Round of 2018 TCHC Playoffs and won 5-3 to advance to the semifinals.

The Miners will face off against the Aggies following the winter break, January 7-8, at the El Paso County Events Center.

UTEP will head east, to Austin, for the final game of the two-game series against Texas State (October 14), started the previous road trip. The Bobcats will head to the Sun City for the final weekend of play, February 1-2, before playoffs.

Back in El Paso, the Miners will host the East Texas Baptist Tigers, November 16-17. The Miners and Tigers split at home during the final homestand of the 2017-18 season. This will be the only meeting between both teams as the Tigers will play in the northern division of TCHC this season.

Closing out the first semester, the Miners will play Dallas Baptist Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1. UTEP remains victories against the Patriots with wins in the last four meetings both at home and on the road.

The Miners will kick off their final road trip in Dallas with a two-game series against Texas Christian University, (January 17-18). Last year, the Miners swept the Horned Frogs in El Paso, 3-1 in game one and 3-2 in overtime in game two.

Closing out the road trip, UTEP will take on the TCHC Champions the North Texas Mean Green (January 19-20) at the Dr Pepper Star Center-Farmers Branch. During the last meeting the Miners swept the Mean Green in El Paso.

For more info on the Miners, visit their website, and stay tuned for upcoming game times and ticket information.

2018-19 TCHC Conference Schedule

September 28 – at Texas State

September 29-30 – at University of Texas

October 12-13 – at Texas A&M

October 14 – at Texas State

November 16-17 – vs East Texas Baptist University

November 30-December 1 – vs Dallas Baptist University

January 7-8- vs Texas A&M

January 14-15- vs University of Texas

January 18-17 – at Texas Christian University

January 19-20 – at North Texas

February 1-2 – vs Texas State

UTEP Golf’s Yellin Advances to 118th U.S. Amateur Championship Next Month

ALBUQUERQUE – UTEP golfer Greg Yellin jumped out to a three-shot lead following the first round of the U.S. Amateur qualifying earlier this week at the University of New Mexico Championship golf course in Albuquerque.

The El Paso native fired a 66 in round one and concluded the two-day event eight-under par (66-70—136), placing first in the qualifying round to advance to the 118th U.S. Amateur Championship at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill Golf Course Aug. 13-19.

“I played really well the first day. I knew it would take pretty good scoring to get through and qualify,” Yellin said. “The first day I started out really well and was three-under through four holes. I told myself, ‘to keep going, there’s still a lot of golf left’. But I shot a 66 in the first round and had a two-shot lead. So, nothing was secured after the first day, but I was in a good spot to be in – a two-shot lead. The second day I was expecting 70 or below should be good enough to qualify. So, I didn’t try to do anything to crazy, just played solid and played smart.”

After finishing four shots ahead of the runner-up and second qualifier, Yellin will compete with 311 other elite amateurs from the across the globe at one of the most respected and revered golf courses in the world at Pebble Beach (par 72, 6,960 yards).

“I still can’t wrap my head around it, me playing at Pebble Beach in about a month,” Yellin said. “It’s going to be incredible. I redshirted [at UTEP] last year and wasn’t playing very well. I came into the summer with not many expectations and just wanted to start playing more and start playing well again. To even think of qualifying for the U.S. Am and to be playing at Pebble Beach pretty soon – it can’t believe it.”

This year’s U.S. Amateur will be the fifth on the Monterey Peninsula dating to 1929. The first two rounds, with a field of 312, will be stroke play, followed by four rounds of match play. The 36-hole final is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 19 at Pebble Beach.

Yellin, who redshirted during the 2017-18 season, will compete for the Miners this upcoming athletic season. The graduate of Coronado High School was named the Player of the Year in 2017 and Co-Player of the Year for El Paso high school golf in 2015.

Coach Baker Announces 2018-19 UTEP Women’s Basketball Schedule

Match-ups with NM State, New Mexico and Arizona, in addition to the always challenging Conference USA slate highlight the 2018-19 UTEP Women’s Basketball schedule, as revealed by head coach Kevin Baker Thursday.

The Miners will have a pair of exhibition games (WNMU-Oct. 27 and St. Mary’s (TX)-Nov. 3) to prep for the campaign before tipping it off in earnest by playing host to Alcorn State (Nov. 10). Other home non-conference match-ups include Cal State Bakersfield (Nov. 14), NM State (Nov. 17), Nicholls State (Nov. 23), Abilene Christian (Nov. 24), Arkansas State (Dec. 1) and Portland State (Dec. 9).

After playing five straight contests at the Don Haskins Center, including a pair of tilts as part of the Seventh-Annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic, the Orange and Blue will hit the road for a match-up at Weber State (Nov. 28). Other road non-league games include at New Mexico (Dec. 5), at Arizona (Dec. 17) and at former C-USA foe Tulsa (Dec. 29). Additionally the Orange and Blue will take part in the Las Vegas Shootout (Dec.20-21), with match-ups still to be announced.

“We are really excited about our upcoming season’s schedule,” Baker said. “Our non-conference schedule includes seven home games and six road games. This schedule will help us get prepared for a very demanding Conference USA format.”

C-USA action starts with three straight road contests in the form of playing at UTSA (Jan. 5), at North Texas (Jan. 10) and at Rice (Jan. 12). The other games away from home will be at Old Dominion (Jan. 24), at Charlotte (Jan. 26), at Florida Atlantic (Feb. 7), at FIU (Feb. 9) and at UAB (March 2).

The tilt at UAB was predetermined by the league office to result in the most competitive match-ups coupled with geographical constraints. The other contest of that nature is UTEP’s “Senior Day” game vs. North Texas (March 7).

The Miners’ home C-USA opener pits them against UAB (Jan. 17). Also venturing to El Paso will be Middle Tennessee (Jan. 19), Marshall (Jan. 31), WKU (Feb. 2), LA Tech (Feb. 14), Southern Miss (Feb. 16), UTSA (Feb. 23) and the aforementioned contest vs. North Texas (March 7).

“We will play 14 games in a mirrored format opposite of the men’s Thursday/Saturday scheduling,” Baker said. “The final two contests are set in advance and are based on creating competitive match-ups with geographical constraints. The fans will love this idea as there will almost always be a home game going on in the Haskins Center every Thursday and Saturday.”

UTEP will return four letter winners (Jordan Alexander-8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, Jordan Jenkins-2.0 ppg, 1.4 apg, Zuzanna Puc-9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg and Katarina Zec-9.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) from last year’s squad, in addition to a pair (Ariona Gill and Neidy Ocuane) who sat out last year as redshirts.

The Miners compiled an overall record of 17-14 (7-9 in C-USA play, 9-4 in non-conference action) to surge past the 2016-17 team’s overall victory total (8-23) by nine wins while also exceeding the number of league victories (5-13 C-USA). The effort allowed Baker to become the most successful first-year head coach at the school in program history.

2018-19 UTEP Women’s Basketball Schedule


Date              Day                       Opponent                                                Location                                    Time

Oct. 27          Saturday               Western New Mexico&                             Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

Nov. 3           Saturday               St. Mary’s University&                             Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

Nov. 10          Saturday               Alcorn State                                             Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.

Nov. 14          Wednesday           Cal State Bakersfield                                Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.

Nov. 17          Saturday               NM State                                                  Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.


UTEP Thanksgiving Classic

Nov. 23          Friday                   Texas Southern vs. Abilene Christian      Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

                                                 Nicholls State at UTEP                             Don Haskins Center                   3:30 p.m.

Nov. 24          Saturday               Texas Southern vs. Nicholls State           Don Haskins Center                   5 p.m.

                                                 Abilene Christian at UTEP                       Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.


Nov. 28          Wednesday           at Weber State                                          Ogden, Utah                              TBA

Dec. 1            Saturday               Arkansas State                                         Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

Dec. 5           Wednesday           at New Mexico                                          Albuquerque, N.M.                     TBA

Dec. 9            Sunday                 Portland State                                          Don Haskins Center                   2 p.m.

Dec. 17          Monday                at Arizona                                                 Tucson, Ariz.                              TBA


Las Vegas Christmas Shootout

Dec. 20          Thursday               TBA                                                         Las Vegas, Nev.                         TBA

Dec. 21          Friday                   TBA                                                         Las Vegas, Nev.                         TBA


Dec. 29          Saturday               at Tulsa                                                    Tulsa, Okla.                                1 p.m.

Jan. 5            Saturday               at UTSA*                                                  San Antonio, Texas                    TBA

Jan. 10          Thursday               at North Texas*                                         Denton, Texas                            TBA

Jan. 12          Saturday               at Rice*                                                    Houston, Texas                          TBA

Jan. 17          Thursday              UAB*                                                        Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.

Jan. 19          Saturday               Middle Tennessee*                                  Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

Jan. 24          Thursday               at Old Dominion*                                      Norfolk, Va.                               TBA

Jan. 26          Saturday               at Charlotte*                                             Charlotte, N.C.                           TBA

Jan. 31          Thursday              Marshall*                                                 Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.

Feb. 2            Saturday               WKU*                                                       Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

Feb. 7            Thursday               at Florida Atlantic*                                    Boca Raton, Fla.                        TBA

Feb. 9            Saturday               at FIU*                                                      Miami, Fla.                                 TBA

Feb. 14          Thursday              LA Tech*                                                  Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.

Feb. 16          Saturday               Southern Miss*                                        Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

Feb. 23          Saturday               UTSA*                                                      Don Haskins Center                   1 p.m.

March 2         Saturday               at UAB*                                                    Birmingham, Ala.                        TBA

March 7         Thursday              North Texas*                                            Don Haskins Center                   7 p.m.


Bold denotes home game & Exhibition Game

* Conference USA Game

All Times Mountain

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UTEP MBB Head Coach Rodney Terry Announces 2018-19 Roster

After long months of travel and recruiting, first-year UTEP men’s basketball head coach Rodney Terry has solidified and officially announced the Miners’ 2018-19 hoops roster on Tuesday.

The revamped roster includes 18 total players, including four letterwinners returning from last season.

“We’re excited about announcing this class and this roster for this coming season,” Terry said. “My staff has done a great job identifying student-athletes who we think can come in here, represent this program and this community the right way, both on and off the court.”

The 2018-19 roster features senior Paul Thomas, junior Isiah Osborne and sophomores Evan Gilyard and Kobe Magee.

The 12 newcomers include Souley Boum, Ountae Campbell, Gilles Dekoninck, Jakobe Dill, Kaosi Ezeagu, Nigel Hawkins, Efe Odigie, Deon Stroud, Garrett Sullivan, Anthony Tarke, Tydus Verhoeven and Bryson Williams.

“We have several youngsters here on campus right now and a couple of other guys joining as the summer comes to a close,” Terry said. “But we’re excited about this group along with four returning scholarship players back from last year’s team with one senior being Paul Thomas. Along with the four scholarship players, we have two walk-ons as well. So, it gave us six returning guys from last year’s roster. We have 12 new additions, as eight of those guys are recruited guys we brought on board and four of those guys will be preferred walk-ons. So, our roster is set at 18 guys at the moment. Some guys will participate this year and there will be some guys who won’t participate with this year’s recruiting class.”

Freshman Brandon Averitt and redshirt junior Isaiah Rhyanes are the pair of walk-ons from last season’s roster.

Boum (San Francisco), Dekoninck (Fresno State), Tarke (NJIT), Verhoeven (Duquesne) and Williams (Fresno State) will sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules, while Stroud, a freshman, will also sit out to focus on academics. The incoming freshmen include Dill, Ezeagu, Hawkins and Odigie.

“We feel like this recruiting class helps us this year and helps us moving into the future, in terms of our recruiting class for 2019 as well. We still have some needs, obviously, in 2019 that we need to cover for our program. But we feel like we got off to a great start,” Terry said.


#25 Brandon Averitt

Freshman | Guard | 6-1, 150

2017-18 SEASON: Worked with the scout team.


#3 Evan Gilyard

Sophomore | Guard | 5-10, 155

2017-18 SEASON: Started in 13 of 31 games played … averaged 9.1 points per game and 3.9 assists … set a UTEP record by connecting on 84.4 percent from the charity stripe … ranked seventh in Conference USA in free throw percentage … led the team in free throws made (81) and attempted (96) … also posted a team-best 19 charges drawn … averaged 10.6 points per game in C-USA play … concluded freshman campaign by scoring a career-high 29 points against UTSA on a season-high 36 minutes in the C-USA Tournament …  dished out a career-high six assists in his collegiate debut against Louisiana College … set career-bests in free throw attempts (10) and free throws made (nine) against FIU.


#15 Kobe Magee

Sophomore | Guard | 6-1, 150

2017-18 SEASON: Made 16 starts in 30 contests played …  averaged 4.5 points per game, 2.0 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per contest … led Conference USA in three-point field percentage for league games only (.531) … overall, shot 44.2 percent from the field and 42.5 percent from beyond the arc … ranked second in C-USA in three-point percentage for all games … assist/turnover ratio was a team-best 1.58 (52-33) and ranked second on the squad in assists (52) … made 31 three-point field goals, tied for fourth all-time among UTEP freshmen … put up career-high 16 points against New Mexico … played a season-high 37 minutes and scored 11 points against UTSA … dished out a season-best eight assists at LA Tech … registered a career-high five rebounds three times (vs. Lamar, vs. Howard, at UTSA).


#13 Isiah Osborne

Junior | Forward | 6-5, 180

2017-18 SEASON: Started in 19 of 29 contests played … led the Miners in scoring for Conference USA games (11.9 ppg), and overall ranked third on the squad at 9.4 points per contest … added 3.7 rebounds per game and registered a .328 three-point percentage and .627 free throw percentage … started 14 of the 17 C-USA contests that he appeared in … scored in double figures 12 times … led the team in scoring (17 points) in his UTEP debut against Louisiana College … scored season-high 25 points at LA Tech … put up 22 points and grabbed seven boards at Charlotte … paced UTEP with 21 points during a victory against FIU … recorded 20 points on a season-most five three-pointers at UTSA.


#54 Isaiah Rhyanes

Junior | Center | 6-9, 220

2017-18 SEASON: Worked with the scout team and did not see game action.


#1 Paul Thomas

Senior | Forward | 6-8, 210

2017-18 SEASON: Started in 29 of 31 games played … averaged 8.1 points per game with a .461 field goal percentage … tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.4 rpg) … ranked 19th in Conference USA in rebounding … corralled six rebounds versus Boise State … made the first two three-pointers of his college career at NM State, part of a 14-point showing … added five rebounds versus the Aggies … tallied 11 points and five boards versus Washington State … led the Miners in points (16) and rebounds (eight) against Incarnate Word … collected 12 points and seven rebounds versus North Dakota State … posted eight points, six rebounds and a team-high three assists in the C-USA opener against North Texas … added nine points versus Florida Atlantic … scored 12 points at UTSA … posted seven points at UAB while leading the Miners in rebounds (six) and assists (three) … made both of his three-point attempts and scored 10 points versus WKU … led UTEP by securing seven rebounds against Marshall … picked up his first double-double of the season versus UTSA with 11 points and 11 boards … hit the game-winning jumper with 2.6 seconds remaining in an 87-86 triumph at Charlotte … registered his second consecutive double-double against the 49ers with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while adding four assists and two steals … posted 12 points and eight rebounds at Rice … tallied six rebounds versus UTSA in the C-USA Tournament.





#0 Souley Boum

Sophomore | Guard | 6-3, 160

Oakland, Calif. (Oakland Tech HS/San Francisco)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Earned West Coast Conference All-Freshman team honors after ranking second on the squad and 25th in WCC in points per game (10.9) as a true freshman at San Francisco during the 2017-18 campaign … started in 12 of 36 contests played for the Dons … led USF with 121 free throws made, a USF freshman record … connected on a team-high 82.9 percent of his free throws, while ranking sixth in WCC … scored 394 points (second-most points by a freshman in USF history) … pulled down 95 rebounds, dished out 37 assists and recorded 19 steals … registered 20-plus points in seven different contests, including a season-high 26 on 8-of-11 shooting at Portland … matched season high in points with another 26-point effort against Colgate on 9-of-16 shooting (season high in made field goals) … in back-to-back games, combined to make 24-of-27 free throws (17 points on 12-14 FTs vs. UCSB, 16 points on 12-13 FTs vs. Eastern Washington) … added a season-high seven rebounds against Eastern Washington … dished out a season-high four assists against Pepperdine … opened collegiate career with a 22-point performance against Long Beach State (8-of-9 FTs) and followed with a 21-point effort in his second collegiate contest.


PERSONAL: Full name is Souleymone Boum … son of Mariam Diallo … born in Oakland, Calif. … nickname is Sou.


— Ountae Campbell

Sophomore | Guard/Forward | 6-4, 195

Los Angeles, Calif. (Fresno State)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Redshirted at Fresno State during the 2016-17 season … played in seven games as a freshman during the 2015-16 season with the Bulldogs … logged 12 minutes for an average of 1.7 minutes per game … posted two points and three rebounds … posted a dunk in the Bulldogs’ win over Pacific … played at Brentwood High School … named CIF All-Division-V Team … All-Alpha League first team … team captain … averaged 13.5 points per game, 3.5 steals per game and 7.0 rebounds per contest as a senior … played on the varsity squad during the sophomore (7.3 ppg) and junior (7.0 ppg) campaigns.


#33 Gilles Dekoninck

Sophomore | Forward | 6-6, 205

Diest, Belgium (Huntington Prep/Fresno State)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Played seven games during the 2017-18 season at Fresno State … scored two points on only shot attempt and tallied a rebound against Cal State Monterey Bay … made a free throw against UC Santa Cruz … registered a rebound against Colorado State … played three minutes twice (vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, vs. Cal State Monterey Bay) … while a senior at Huntington Prep, averaged 20 points, four assists and seven rebounds per contest … scored 16 points during a win against Teays Valley Christian White … was a member of the Belgium U18 National Team.


PERSONAL: Gilles Dekoninck is the son of Bert Dekoninck and Lucette Bokken … has one sister … born in Diest, Belgium.


#5 Jakobe Dill

Freshman | Guard | 6-3, 175

Beaumont, Texas (Beaumont Central High School/Heritage Academy [SC])

PRIOR TO UTEP: Ranked by as the no. 38 player in the Class of 2018 rankings … played at Heritage Academy (South Carolina) during the 2017-18 season … named team MVP after averaging 28 points per game during senior season … paced Heritage Academy with 17 points against Redemption Christian (NY) … went 9-of-11 from three-point range in just 24 minutes against Savannah Fall … scored 20 points (6-9 3pt.) versus West Ridge Academy … poured in 26 points against York Prep … named 2016-17 District 22-5A MVP while at Beaumont Central HS … named 2017 Beaumont Enterprise Super Gold Boys Player of the Year after averaging 24.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and three assists during the 2016-17 regular season … led Jaguars to a 13-1 record in 22-5A and a co-district title … scored a game-high 31 points against Class 4A no. 1-ranked Silsbee Tigers while with club team Houston Defenders, and scored 14 points against DC Blue Devils … All-District 22-5A second team in 2016.


PERSONAL: Full name is Jakobe Rashad Dill … son of Jay and Christie Dill … has four sisters … born in Dallas, Texas … cousin, Rashard Lewis, a two-time all-star who played in the NBA for 16 seasons (Seattle SuperSonics 1998-2007, Orlando Magic 2007-10, Washington Wizards 2011-12 and Miami Heat 2012-14) … nickname is Kobe.


#25 Kaosi Ezeagu

Freshman | Forward | 6-10, 240

Brampton, Ontario (GTA Prep at Mississauga Secondary School)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Top-24 player in Canada after averaging 11.4 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per contest during the 2017-18 season … named the Defensive Player of the Year by the National Preparatory Association … averaged a double-double, making him the only player in the league to achieve the feat … named co-MVP of the Signature All-Canadian Showcase … made the start and finished with eight points and seven rebounds during the 2018 BioSteel All-Canadian basketball game on April 9, 2018 … played at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn., during 2016-17 campaign … efforts helped Hawks to a 31-7 overall record, including a USA National Prep Tournament championship on March 4, 2017 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. … has a 7-1 wingspan with comparisons to Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors by


PERSONAL: Kaosi Ezeagu is the son of James and Patience Ezeagu … has one brother … born in the Bahamas … also played soccer, volleyball and football in high school.


#2 Nigel Hawkins

Freshman | Guard | 6-4, 185

Houston, Texas (Cypress Falls HS)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Ranked the no. 15 player in the state by … two-time All-State and State MVP as a junior at Cypress Falls High School … rated the no. 6 player in Houston by … back-to-back District MVP as a junior and senior after leading Cypress High School in scoring at 21.1 and 17.9 points per game, respectively … tallied 14 contests of 20-plus points, helping Cypress to a 31-4 overall record with a 13-0 district mark … the Eagles advanced to the 6A Region 1 & 3 quarterfinals … during senior campaign, scored a season-high 33 points while adding six boards during a victory against Mitchell … opened final high school season with a 30-point effort while adding eight rebounds and five assists in a win against Tompkins … poured in a career-high 36 points and dished out three assists during junior season against South Houston … District Newcomer of the Year as a sophomore after averaging 14.0 points, 3.0 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game … recipient of the 2017 Guy V. Lewis Award … 2018 Houston Sports Authority Boys Basketball High School Player of the Year nominee.


PERSONAL: Full name is Nigel Duron Hawkins … son of Steve Michael Hawkins and Tonya Hawkins-Medina … has two brothers and one sister … born in Houston, Texas … father played in the NBA for four teams (Boston Celtics in 1997, Sacramento Kings in 1999, Charlotte Hornets from 1999-2000 and Cleveland Cavaliers from 2000-01) … uncle, Eric Snow, played in the NBA (Seattle SuperSonics from 1995-98, Philadelphia 76ers from 1997-2004 and Cleveland Cavaliers from 2004-08) … likes to golf as a hobby … nickname is Hawk Time.


#32 Efe Odigie

Freshman | Forward | 6-9, 280

Houston, Texas (Pro-Vision Academy)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Rated the no. 22 player in the state by … top-10 player in Houston by … state champion … averaged a team-leading 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 61.2 percent from the field for the Houston Hoopstars on the 2017 summer circuit … scored 20-plus points in 13 contests and recorded 12 double-doubles … notched a season-high 26 points during a win against Shooting Stars-blue … opened 2017 summer circuit with a 23-point effort versus TJ Ford … recorded first double-double of summer after posting 23 points and 11 rebounds against RL9 Grey in the second game of the summer … registered second double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds  against LA United in the third contest … registered a season-high 16 rebounds and scored 16 points against LCCAVS … pulled down 15 boards at Triumph Gold … averaged 1.2 blocks per game … blocked season-high five shots at SSA … registered four blocked shots against Houston Hoops DJ.


PERSONAL: Full name is Omoefay Johnson Odigie … son of Curtis Odigie and Paula Lafleur … has one brother and three sisters … born in Houston, Texas … graduated valedictorian in high school … mother played basketball at Nicholls State and sister, Tiffany, played basketball at Alabama State … nickname is Alpha.


#23 Deon Stroud

Freshman | Guard/Forward | 6-5, 190

Fresno, Calif. (Trinity International [Las Vegas, Nev.])

PRIOR TO UTEP: Rated as a three-star prospect by ESPN … averaged 20.5 points per game, 10 rebounds per game and seven assists per contest … named All-District … selected to the Fresno Bee’s All-Star team in 2017 … named team MVP after averaging 20.1 points per game and 10.5 boards per contest during junior season … played freshman (6.5 ppg) and sophomore (17.0 ppg) seasons at San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno, Calif.) … Panthers went a combined 51-13 during those two seasons … named All-State and All-District during sophomore season.


PERSONAL: Full name is Deon Jeremin Stroud … son of Leroy Harris and Shay Greathouse … has one brother and one sister … uncle, Carl Ray Harris played basketball at Fresno State … born in Fresno, Calif. … played football in high school … nickname is Deon.


#20 Garrett Sullivan

Freshman | Guard | 6-5, 190

Easthampton, Mass. (Williston Northhampton HS/Hillcrest Prep Academy [AZ])

PRIOR TO UTEP: Two-year letterman at Hillcrest Prep Academy (AZ) … won the 2016-17 Grind Session National Championship … averaged 15 points and six assists per contest at the shooting guard position during senior season … scored 16 points, including three 3-pointers against Belmont in the quarterfinals of the NEPSAC Class A Tournament … scored team-high 19 points in a victory against Salisbury … earned 2018 All-NEPSAC Class A honorable mention … recognized as one of the top guards in the state by the New England Recruiting Report … scored 18 points, helping Williston secure a NEPSAC Class A tournament berth … chipped in with 10 points during a victory versus Pomfret.


PERSONAL: Garrett Sullivan is the son of Tim and Lisa Sullivan … has two sisters.


#12 Anthony Tarke

Sophomore | Guard/Forward | 6-6, 220

Gaithersburg, Md. (Gaithersburg HS/New Jersey Institute of Technology)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Will sit out the 2018-19 season per NCAA transfer rules and have two years of eligibility starting in 2019-20 … led NJIT in scoring last season (15.7 ppg) and ranked second in rebounding (6.2 rpg) … garnered first team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors … registered career-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds at Kennesaw State … matched career best with another 27-point effort at Lipscomb … dished out a season-high six dimes and scored 17 points against FDU … notched a double-double that included 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds at Rutgers … pulled down 11 rebounds and tallied 20 points for second double-double of season at North Florida … tabbed an Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Selection in 2016-17 after averaging 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds per game… opened collegiate career with a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) against Sarah Lawrence … notched second career double-double with a season-high 23 points and 10 boards against North Florida … registered third double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) versus Stetson … named ASUN Newcomer of the week twice, the first was for averaging 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds during a two-game span (Jan. 9-15), while the second was for an 18-point, seven-rebound effort during a win against USC Upstate.


PERSONAL: Full name is Anthony Shey Tarke … son of Elizabeth Tarke and Willibroad Anthony … has two brothers and two sisters … born in Washington D.C. … named to honor roll in high school.


#4 Tydus Verhoeven

Sophomore | Forward | 6-9, 215

Manteca, Calif. (Menteca HS/Duquesne)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Played in all 32 contests during freshman season at Duquesne … started final 27 games of the 2017-18 season … broke school’s freshman blocked shot record (71) … eighth freshman in the 42-year history of the Atlantic 10 to lead the league in blocks (2.22 bpg overall/2.33 in A-10 games only) … exploded for a season-high 21 points on a 7-for-7 effort from the field and 7-for-8 at the free throw line against Saint Louis … played a season-best 34 minutes, while recording four blocked shots and chipping in with four rebounds and three assists against the Billikens … tallied a season-high nine boards, blocked seven shots, dished out three dimes and scored 12 points against Robert Morris … blocked a season-high nine shots (DU freshman record) and dished out a career-best five assists, while adding four points and eight rebounds against George Mason … grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots at VCU … averaged 16.5 points per game, ripped down 12.7 rebounds per contest, blocked 6.0 shots per game and chipped in with 2.8 assists on average as a senior at Menteca High School … named Valley Oak League MVP by conference coaches after leading the Buffaloes to a 14-0 league record.


PERSONAL: Tydus Verhoeven is the son of Jodi Verhoeven … mother played basketball at Fresno State (1991-94) and was drafted by the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks … born in Baldwin Park, Calif. … also participated in track for two years and football and volleyball for one year each at Manteca HS.


#11 Bryson Williams

Junior | Forward | 6-8, 225

Fresno, Calif. (Roosevelt HS/Fresno State)

PRIOR TO UTEP: Rated a Top-5 Division I transfer by … previously played at Fresno State for two seasons … made 58 starts in 65 games played (2016-17, 2017-18) … averaged 14 points per game during sophomore season, ranking second on the squad … earned All-Mountain West third team honors …  led the Bulldogs in total rebounds (195) and rebounds per game (6.1) … ranked second on the team in points (441) and field goal percentage (59.6) … posted four double-doubles … scored 22 points and pulled down nine boards at Arkansas … poured in a career-high 30 points on 14-of-17 shooting in a triumph against Cal State Monterey Bay … recorded a career-high 13 rebounds and scored 10 points during a win against CSU Bakersfield … registered 19 points and 10 rebounds in a victory against Colorado State … played a season-high 40 minutes (14 points, eight rebounds) at New Mexico … scored 23 points and tallied nine rebounds against San Diego State in the MW Tournament … averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during freshman season (2016-17) … scored season-high 18 points at Utah State … matched season best with another 18-point effort at San Diego State … Roosevelt High School all-time leading scorer with 2,302 points, which ranks as the fifth-most in Central Section history and the most-ever in the city of Fresno … averaged 34 points and 18 rebounds per game during senior season.


PERSONAL: Son of Donald and Corinthia Williams … has a younger sister.

UTEP Announces 2018 Distinguished Alumni, Gold Nuggets

Every year, The University of Texas at El Paso and the UTEP Alumni Association honor a group of alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields and serve as pillars of inspiration to future Miners for what can be accomplished through integrity, dedication and determination.

This group of outstanding graduates includes the UTEP Distinguished Alumni and the Gold Nuggets.

“We are proud to honor this year’s Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget Award recipients, whose inspiring personal journeys and professional achievements are truly exceptional,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “These highly successful individuals embody our Miner spirit and serve as examples to our students of what can be accomplished through an excellent education, high aspirations and the drive and perseverance to achieve them.”

“UTEP alumni are living amazing lives, and they are doing a remarkable job of showcasing their alma mater,” said Maribel Villalva, UTEP assistant vice president for alumni relations. “This is evident in the group of alumni honorees who have been selected as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nuggets.”

The Distinguished Alumni award is the highest recognition bestowed upon alumni of the University.

The 2018 awardees will be officially recognized during UTEP’s 2018 Homecoming Week, Sept. 30 – Oct. 6, and will be showcased at the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5 at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni are:

Crystal Long

MBA, 2014

Crystal Long is a first-generation college graduate who currently serves as president and CEO of GECU, the largest locally owned financial institution in El Paso.

Long was born in Lubbock, Texas and moved to El Paso with her family when she was eight years old. She began her career at GECU as an entry-level file clerk in 1979. Later, Long pursued higher education to advance her career and worked toward a college degree while maintaining a full-time job and raising a family. Her persistence paid off when she received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and later an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

Long progressively moved up the ranks at GECU to a teller, supervisor, manager, and vice president. Already a top leader at her institution, her desire to keep learning and growing professionally wasn’t satiated. In 2011, she became a proud Miner when she joined The University of Texas at El Paso’s Executive MBA Program (EMBA).

Long says she is humbled and honored to be recognized as a Distinguished Alumna, a recognition she feels should be shared with her family, friends, colleagues and community members, who all have been part of her journey.

“Having become a UTEP graduate, I believe I’m better positioned to advocate for the value of a college education in the workplace and am proud that, through my example, others have chosen to attend college,” Long said. “You simply can’t help but be changed by exposure to new concepts, people and perspectives. I am very grateful for that.”

Karla Martinez

B.A. Electronic Media/Communication, 1998

Karla Martinez is the co-host of Univision’s highly rated national live morning show, “Despierta America.” While a student at The University of Texas at El Paso, the Chihuahua native got her start in broadcasting at KINT-FM (Channel 26), Univision’s affiliate station in El Paso. In 1995, the young reporter was scouted by the Univision Network, becoming a Texas correspondent for the national newsmagazine “Primer Impacto.” Later she served as a reporter for the network’s top entertainment news show, “El Gordo y la Flaca,” and host of Univision’s popular youth-oriented lifestyle program, “Control.”

In addition to her role with “Despierta America,” Martinez has co-hosted numerous Univision specials and in 2013 co-hosted ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “The View” alongside one of her role models, Barbara Walters. She has been named one of People en Español’s 25 Most Beautiful People and 25 Most Powerful Women, and one of Vogue Mexico and Latin America magazine’s 2018 100 Most Influential People.

Recently, Martinez added Emmy award winner to her list of accomplishments when “Despierta America” won an Emmy for Outstanding Morning Program in Spanish. She also has authored “El Poder de Una Sonrisa” (The Power of a Smile), a book focused on ways to overcome life’s bad moments.

“I am an example of a dreamer and am happy to be able to represent UTEP students with my story,” Martinez said of her recognition as a Distinguished Alumna. “This is a recognition for all of them. Being an immigrant makes me feel so proud to be recognized for not only what I accomplished but the example I leave others; showing them that anything, no matter where you come from, your story or past, anything is possible.”

The Distinguished Alumni join another group of alumni who are being honored by their respective colleges – the 2018 Gold Nugget Award recipients.

The honorees are exceptional graduates from each of the University’s colleges and schools who have excelled in their professions, give back to their communities and alma mater, and serve as an inspiration for future generations of Miners.

UTEP’s 2018 Gold Nugget Award recipients are:

Sam Armijo, Ph.D.

College of Engineering

B.S. Metallurgical/Materials Engineering, 1959

Sam Armijo, Ph.D., is currently president of JSA Associates Inc., a nuclear systems and engineering consulting firm advising the Electric Power Research Institute and the Exelon Corporation. He is also chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s International Experts Group, which provides technical advice on the decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear site.

Orlando Bejarano

College of Health Sciences

B.S. Occupational Therapy, 1998

Orlando Bejarano is the owner of Focus Therapy in the greater Houston area. His company employs about 40 therapists across physical therapy, speech language pathology and occupational therapy and provides services more than 600 times a week to a mostly geriatric population.

Peter Chan

College of Engineering

B.S. Civil Engineering, 1989 / M.S. Civil Engineering, 1990

Peter Chan is the founder of Professional Concepts, a multi-faceted real estate company. In addition to his professional activities, Chan has served as a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona, and as a volunteer for St. Vincent de Paul and Boy Scouts of America. He is currently serving on the Development Board of UTEP’s Asset Management and Development arm.

Annie L. Garcia

School of Nursing

MSN Nursing Systems Management, 2013

A year after completing her graduate degree in 2013, Annie Garcia was hired as the chief nursing officer at Methodist Texsan Hospital in San Antonio, where she was instrumental in the hospital’s efforts to improve nursing engagement, patient experience and quality outcomes. In 2017, she was named chief nursing officer at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso.

Ruth Ellen Jacobson

College of Education

B.S. Elementary Education, 1970

Ruth Ellen Jacobson is the executive director of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. She has developed youth-focused educational initiatives such as “Tocando,” an after-school program that supports children experiencing challenging social and economic conditions.

Christina I. Paz, DNP

School of Nursing

DNP, 2013

Christina Ilene Paz, DNP, is the chief operating officer at Centro San Vicente Family Health Center in El Paso. As a member of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, she has met with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of community health centers and the vulnerable populations they serve.

Felipa Solis

College of Liberal Arts

B.A. English Literature, 1983

Felipa Solis has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, public relations specialist and community advocate. She currently serves as executive director of El Paso Pro-Musica. Among her numerous honors are the LULAC Humanitarian of the Year Award, the YWCA Reach Award and the Ruben Salazar Journalism Award.

Brig. Gen. Michael Talley

College of Liberal Arts

B.A. History, 1991

Brig. Gen. Michael Talley is a Minnesota native who said his decision to leave active duty to pursue a bachelor’s degree at The University of Texas at El Paso put him on a path to become a brigadier general and command surgeon with the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is the chief medical adviser to more than 800,000 soldiers and civilians.

Joe D. Wardy

College of Business Administration

BBA Finance, 1976

After graduating from UTEP, Joe D. Wardy had a 25-year career in transportation and logistics before he entered politics in 2003. He has held leadership roles with several companies and served as mayor of the City of El Paso from 2003-05. During his tenure as mayor, Wardy oversaw El Paso’s move to a city manager form of government and passage of a $110 million bond issue.

Richard Westbrook, M.D.

College of Science

B.S. Biological Sciences, 1970

 Richard Westbrook, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Surgeons Associates in El Paso. He received his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and completed his residencies in orthopedic surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle and at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Spokane, Washington. He is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Miners Make Mark as Boston University Med School Graduates

Daniella Sisniega, M.D., enjoyed very little time with her newly acquired diploma after graduating from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) earlier this year.

Sisniega — who earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from The University of Texas at El Paso — was among the 137 BUSM students conferred with medical degrees May 17, 2018. In the celebration that ensued, Sisniega’s father gleefully snagged her diploma and has yet to relinquish it.

“My family was really happy,” Sisniega said. “My dad wouldn’t let go of my diploma. In fact, he kept it. I hope he has it in a safe place.”

Transplanted credentials aside, there is no denying UTEP’s unique place among medical graduates during the institution’s spring commencement. Three former Miners – Sisniega, Brenda García, M.D., and Oscar García, M.D. – made up three of the four candidates who walked the stage as part of the Early Medical School Selection Program (EMSSP). In the unique initiative, BUSM collaborates with 13 universities, including UTEP, to better prepare students to navigate the transition to medical school through rigorous undergraduate coursework, early exposure to medical school culture and curriculum, and the development of a unique, supportive community.

BUSM is an urban school affiliated with a teaching hospital that serves a large minority population. Its mission focuses on preparing culturally competent, clinically excellent physicians to meet the health care needs of a diverse population. UTEP is the only public university that takes part in the program, which includes Hispanic-serving institutions and historically black colleges and universities.

At UTEP, students interested in the EMSSP go through the University’s Medical Professions Institute (MPI), which helps students interested in various medical disciplines to pursue their academic journeys beyond El Paso. The success of the three recent BUSM graduates is impressive and a testament to the preparation facilitated through the MPI, said Kristine Garza, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences at UTEP.

“I think our students are phenomenal kids,” Garza said. “Given how much they have to go through, how much dedication they have to give, it’s amazing what they accomplish. Having worked with these students through the MPI, we work diligently to have someone helping our students navigate the path to medical professions. We support them creating relationships with faculty. We push them, we constantly ask them, ‘Are you making yourself as competitive as you can?’ Our faculty and staff have close relationships with them. They aren’t just a number to us.”

Sisniega said the constant motivation she and her fellow Miners received from UTEP faculty was vital in their success at Boston University (BU).

Once accepted into the EMSSP, students enroll in six weeks of courses at BU the summer before their junior year and eight weeks of coursework at BU, including a formal Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) preparatory course, before their senior year. They take a combination of undergraduate and graduate-level courses at BU as seniors. The students retain degree candidacy at their home institutions as they participate in individualized programs of study at BU that satisfies the undergraduate academic requirements and lay the foundation for first-year medical school curriculum. Students who perform at the prescribed level matriculate at BUSM the next academic year.

“When I was going through the process, I was never let down,” Sisniega said. “The professors, the advisers, everyone at the MPI really made sure I was on track.”

But getting through medical school presented a loftier challenge. Brenda García said she rarely struggled with her classes before her first year as a medical student. The intensity she encountered early into her stint in Boston resulted in a setback.

“The first year of medical school was probably one of the hardest times for me,” she said. “I actually had to retake one of my first-year classes. I believe I grew a lot after this. It ended up being a positive learning experience about adapting and being resilient, which helped me a lot throughout the rest of med school.

“At first, it was intimidating knowing that some of your classmates had come from Ivy League schools. There was some self-doubt. Over time, I came to see that it didn’t really matter where you came from and, at the end of the day, we were all in the same class and going through the same things. I think study habits that I had formed as an undergrad were helpful and I also knew the importance of having interests outside of studying.”

Sisniega added that seeing fellow UTEP students succeed instills a grand sense of pride.

“It’s really nice to see other people from your college do well,” she said. “To be such a majority of the graduating EMSSP class, it shows we learned to be very resilient. I look at students in the program who came after me and I can see the UTEP students are on top of their game, making up a majority of the program. I think it adds a lot of merit and shows what opportunities are available to students at UTEP.

“More importantly, this was a difficult process. But we knew we could always count on each other for support. Going into this program, I knew I could count on the UTEP students who were years ahead of me, just like we always offered help and advice for the students in years that came after us. I think this program created an amazing network where UTEP students at BU can find unconditional support for each other.”

Sisniega has since begun her residency at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where she will focus on neurology. Brenda García is an internal medicine resident at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Oscar García, no relation to Brenda, is an internal medicine resident at Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

UTEP’s Garza said more Miners might participate in future Boston University commencement ceremonies. The BUSM accepted four recent EMSSP graduates. In addition, the program accepted two incoming juniors who applied for the upcoming round.

“That’s exciting to see,” Garza said. “We are seeing student success through the MPI, and through this program.”

Author: Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications

UTEP’s Mendizabal to Comete at the World Amateur Team Championships

UTEP women’s golf Valeria Mendizabal will represent her home country of Guatemala at the World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) held on August 9 through September 2, in Maynooth, Ireland.

Teams are represented by three players from each country. The WATC is one of 12 international events designated as elite category by the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), thus they receive the highest level of points available and significant attention from around the world.

During her first season with the Miners, Medizabal played in all 10 tournaments and compiled a 75.6 scoring average. She led the team at the Wyoming Classic where she finished tied for fifth with scores of 70-73-73 for a season-low of 215. The sophomore recorded four top-20 finishes over the 2017-18 campaign. The Guatemala native was a recipient of a Conference USA Academic Medal for a GPA of 3.75 or higher.

The WATC will lead up to the season opener of Sept. 10 when the Mines travel to Springfield, Mo.

Be sure to follow @UTEPWomensGolf on Twitter and UTEPWomensGolf on Instagram for live updates and breaking news.

UTEP’s Charles Corner to Receive Postgraduate Scholarship

IRVING  – NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship participant Charles Corner has been named one of 14 recipients of the Jim Castañeda Postgraduate Scholarship Award, as announced by Conference USA officials on Wednesday.

This is the 10th year the award has been named for Dr. Castañeda, who served Rice University for 46 years as an educator, coach and Faculty Athletics Representative before he passed away in November 2008. The conference annually awards the $4,000 Postgraduate Scholarship to graduates as selected by the C-USA Faculty Athletics Representatives and approved by the Board of Directors.

Corner was voted the 2018 MVP for UTEP men’s golf after captaining the Miners during his senior season, and was named to the Men’s Golf All-Conference USA second team. The Canada native graduated with a 3.6 in finance and garnered C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll honors four times and was twice named a Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-American Scholar.

Corner is planning on attending UTEP for his MBA in business and financial analysis in August.

The UTEP standout finished with a share of third place out of 75 competitors in the NCAA Pacific Region to advance to the NCAA Championships. Corner was the first UTEP golfer to secure a spot in the national championships since Chris Baryla accomplished the feat in 2004.

A CURE for The Common Lab: Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences Growing at UTEP

When Ana Polar and Nick Hantzopulos arrived early for a recent evening biology laboratory course this spring semester at The University of Texas at El Paso, they were greeted by an empty, serene classroom.

But the silence wouldn’t last. As the rest of their classmates filed in, a cacophony ensued as students discussed assignments, updated research and community outreach plans, and critiqued one another’s work. This type of boisterous setting is not often one that is associated with academia. And that’s precisely the intent of Jeffrey Olimpo, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences.

Olimpo, along with Jennifer Apodaca, Ph.D., laboratory coordinator in biological sciences, facilitate one of more than 10 Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) offered by the College of Science. Their class, “Disease and the Environment: Health Disparities in the Border Region,” is intended to offer interdisciplinary opportunities for students to develop into scholars and leaders in their respective fields.

On a national level, CUREs have been championed in recent years as a mechanism to increase student access to authentic scientific research experiences. Current evidence indicates that students who participate in CUREs achieve many of the same outcomes as students who engage in faculty-mentored research and/or research internships. These outcomes include enhanced science identity development, science literacy and career interest in the domain.

At UTEP, CUREs are funded by several sources including the National Institutes of Health’s BUILDing SCHOLARS program and the Program to Educate and Retain Students in STEM Tracks (PERSIST), supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“It gets you out of your comfort zone,” said Polar, a sophomore biology major with a biomedical concentration. “It opens the door for you to understand that there are opportunities here to work with professors even though you don’t work in a lab. It … lets you know you are capable.”

Olimpo said his course offers undergraduates access to an immersive experience that deviates from a prescriptive mindset in favor of a teaching approach based on the faculty-mentor research model.

“These kinds of courses are relatively new,” Olimpo said. “This whole movement for CUREs stems from the fact that traditional labs were seen as very cookie-cutter, where you knew the answer before you arrived at the lab. We are trying to get away from that and put students in a mindset that attempts to engage them more rigorously in the actual process of science.”

That engagement is not only a way for students to develop transferrable skills, according to Laura A. Diaz-Martinez, Ph.D., associate director of the Campus Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI), it is also aligned with the UTEP Edge, the University’s student success culture that seeks to identify and build on the strengths that students bring with them to the campus, and propel them toward successful degree completion.

Diaz-Martinez said UTEP has a long history of faculty commitment to mentor undergraduate students who are interested in conducting research, scholarly or creative projects. That commitment has led to a growing number of students involved in those activities. That number grew to 620 in 2016-17 from 496 in 2014-15, she said.

“This growth is evidence of UTEP’s commitment not only to research excellence, but to immersing our students in this process,” Diaz-Martinez said. “Eventually, I would like to see every single UTEP undergraduate student having the opportunity to conduct a research, scholarly or creative project. However, we will not be able to achieve this through the classic mentor-mentee model where one faculty member mentors a handful of students outside of class. This is why the efforts of faculty who develop CUREs are so important, since these courses provide opportunities for more students to conduct a research, scholarly or creative project, and thus develop all those important skills and connections while completing the academic requirements for their majors.”

Olimpo and Apodaca’s CURE focuses on public health, specifically as it pertains to the El Paso community. Students in the course work on projects such as air-quality monitoring, studying microbial diversity, and working with nursing students to train in hospital settings to minimize infections, among others. The projects are developed by the students, Apodaca said. The professors are merely facilitators.

“I had a lot of great research opportunities when I came to school here at UTEP,” Apodaca, an El Paso native, said. “I felt that the laboratory environment was the best way to learn science — through practice. I wanted to create that opportunity for students, but in a way that was much broader. I wanted a class that was both an internship and a research experience to show students that biology is important and relevant in other aspects, specifically, in relation to their community in terms of public health and health disparities.”

Olimpo and Apodaca’s CURE was implemented as a two-semester sequence during the 2017-18 academic year. Their students ranged in classifications and majors, something the two professors said adds another element in their push to extend access. They set out to be inclusive and encourage students who needed a space to try research.

“I was teaching biology and had majors in sociology and engineering in my class.” Apodaca said. “I would see completely sad faces, ‘Why am I taking biology? This is pointless.’ They are losing that intrinsic motivation to even be in the class. That really bothered me. There are really important things you can do in biology. It can help you whether you’re a social worker or engineer. So, the thought was, let’s create a space that provides that opportunity, that appreciation.”

Students have not only been drawn to that notion, they have flourished as part of it.

“For me, as a student, this class kind of gives me the initiative to ask questions and brainstorm ideas,” said Hantzopulos, a junior biochemistry major. “There’s more of a, ‘How can I reach out to people?’ and ‘How can I find ways to inform the public with our research?’ as opposed to a standard lab where you learn about a pipette. For me, because I’m more of a hands-on learner, I really like to look back and see how this applies to everything I’m going to be learning later. So, more than anything, it’s given me the motivation to think on my own about these types of questions, to look up articles about this stuff that I’m doing research on.”

Hantzopulos and Polar worked together in the spring to complete a research project they began in the fall. The pair targeted hospital associated infections. As part of their work, they surveyed students in the UTEP School of Nursing to learn more about hospital sanitizing protocols and hygiene practices. They also reached out to leaders and representatives at local hospitals and clinics to glean further insight.

They said the experience not only yielded quality research findings, it also exposed them to a slew of students and professionals who could potentially help foster their long-term career goals.

“It really helps you network,” Hantzopulos said. “You meet a lot of new people, especially in the science community. You keep being engaged in your career, essentially. Even in class, we have a sociology major here and maybe down the road I could say, ‘Hey, I need your opinion on this.’ In the end, it motivates me to graduate because it really gives me a hands-on idea of what I want to do as a career.”

The initial success of the CURE also has galvanized Olimpo and Apodaca, who say they hope to conduct another such course in the fall.

“We’re not just running a course that has a cool title,” Olimpo said. “They have to do the work. And they’ve done the work. I think they’ve done a fantastic job of getting their hands dirty and understanding that science is not just, Step 1: Take test tube out of the rack, Step 2: So on and so on. We certainly hope we can do it again.”

Author: Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications

Retiring UTEP Professor ‘Seduced’ by Speech, Debate

Mary Trejo’s introduction to forensics in high school was crushing and volatile.

With little preparation, the petite teenager – then known as Mary Corn – who was raised on a small farm on the foothills of southern Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, was asked to offer a rebuttal to her opponent’s argument at her first meet.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I do not know the meaning of the word rebuttal,” recalled Trejo, Ph.D., longtime faculty member at The University of Texas at El Paso’s departments of English and Communication, and forensics director for 34 years. “And then I sat down.”

The next week, Trejo’s “somewhat ruthless” forensics teacher drove the team to Kansas City, Missouri, to participate in one of the state’s premier speech and debate tournaments. Her team’s first round opponent included the previous year’s state debate champion.

“We were slaughtered,” Trejo said, adding that she got sick to her stomach afterwards.

Those emotional bruises served to make her a more compassionate person and a better teacher, said Trejo, who officially retired at the end of the spring 2018 semester after 49 years of service to the University.

Her immediate “retirement” plans include supervising The Talk of Texas 2018 Speech and Debate Camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25-29 at UTEP. The popular annual camp costs $100 and is open to students enrolled in college, high school and middle school. Click here to register.

Although stung by her introduction to forensics, the study and practice of public speaking and debate, Trejo said the skills needed to succeed in that arena – research, organization, creativity, critical thinking, expression of thought, and above all, ethics – “seduced” her.

Forensics is not often equated to “tall, dark and handsome,” but Trejo described her academic affection for literature, language and communication, so it is easy to see how she made a love connection with speech and debate.

“I believe forensics teaches people to communicate clearly and effectively, and to think critically,” Trejo said during an interview in her first-floor office in UTEP’s Cotton Memorial Building. The office’s walls and shelves are decorated with numerous forensic trophies earned by generations of Miner teams. Sealed cases in the adjacent hallway are filled with similar awards of different colors, shapes and sizes. “Those with a good forensic education are the epitome of the ideal university product. I learned skills of thought and organization that made me an effective classroom teacher.”

Westward, Ho!

Trejo, who refers to her native state as “Missour-ah,” was raised by her widowed mother and her maternal grandparents. Her father was a soldier who was killed in action during World War II. Her mother and grandmother, a former school teacher, were nurturing, independent thinkers and voracious readers. They impressed a love of books on young Mary, who often read by the light of kerosene lamps.

After a successful high school career, she enrolled in college as a ward of the Veterans Administration because of her father. Trejo earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Southwest Missouri State University in 1964 and the University of Missouri, Columbia, three years later. She had limited contact with forensics during those years. She instead dabbled in theater and creative writing.

She sent resumes throughout the country after she earned her graduate degree. She hoped to find a job that incorporated travel and adventure. UTEP answered and she was intrigued in part because of its location on the U.S.-Mexico border. She arrived in 1967 as a tenure-track instructor with the Department of English and thought she would move on after a year or so, but she fell in love with the culture and decided to stay.

Trejo earned her doctorate in modern letters from the University of Tulsa in 1983. The next year, UTEP’s Forensics Program needed a new director. The person selected bowed out due to illness, but she recommended Trejo because of her background. She has been in charge ever since. Throughout the years, Trejo’s teams have won multiple national competitions. Trejo transferred to UTEP’s Department of Communication in 1994 to better align her academic and forensic duties.

Stacey Sowards, Ph.D., chair of the communication department, said Trejo has mentored countless students and faculty in academics and forensics. Those students have gone on to law school, graduate school, and become successful professionals, to include a handful of UTEP faculty members. A debater as an undergraduate at Colorado College, Sowards took graduate courses and was the teaching assistant for the forensics team with Trejo from 1995 to 1997.

“Mary Trejo has worked tirelessly throughout her career to support student success and high-impact learning experiences,” Sowards said.

During her time at UTEP, Trejo earned top educator honors at the University and state levels, received the Degree of Highest Distinction in the Order of Instruction from Pi Kappa Delta, the national forensics honor society, in 1993, and has served on the regional and national boards of the American Forensics Association – National Individual Event Tournament. Among her proudest accomplishments was introducing and helping to pass legislation that benefited student participants.

While Trejo appreciated the oratorical elements of forensics, she admits to never caring for the misinterpretations of the intent of debate as practiced sometimes, especially at the high school level where she said competitors often are too aggressive and cross the line into meanness. With a straight face she likened those participants to wolverines. She also frowned on those who put competition before learning.

“I believe in being fair, honorable and ethical,” she said. “There is nothing more important than being ethical. If you’re all about winning trophies, you’re not about education. Competition at all costs is not the way to go. Ethics at all costs is the most important.”

Even-Keeled Charm

UTEP students and graduates who have known Trejo through the years describe her as warm, caring, selfless, dedicated, and more than anything, a lady.

“Her heart is as big as Texas,” said Norma Jean Gradsky, a former student who earned her bachelor’s degree in theatre arts in 1975 and her master’s degree in communication in 2007. “I owe everything to Dr. Trejo.”

Gradsky, who was involved in speech and debate at Coronado High School in El Paso, responded to a forensics flyer at UTEP and quickly became one of Trejo’s teaching assistants while a graduate student. The hours were long, but she recalled how Trejo always seemed to have great energy and enthusiasm. Upon receiving her master’s degree, she served as Montwood High School’s forensics coach for 10 years. She returned to UTEP as a communication lecturer and assists Trejo with the summer speech camp.

“I loved observing how she taught and how she dealt with students,” Gradsky said. “She had a lady-like, even-keeled charm, which was a great way to teach.”

Shawn Mena, principal at Franklin High School in West El Paso, is one of Trejo’s former forensic students. She earned her bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and public address in 1986 and her master’s degree in communication four years later.

Mena, a former state speech champion in 1978, served as forensics coach at Bel Air and Eastwood high schools for 25 years and at UTEP for 10 years. The first-generation college student said she struggled with academics until she met Trejo, who became her mentor. She became the University’s top trophy winner during her years of eligibility. More importantly, she became confident enough to pursue a graduate degree.

She remembered Trejo as someone who taught students the tools they needed to be successful, but also to be of high moral character.

“She was a great example of a scholar with high ethics and a heart for students and coaches,” Mena said. “She used her personal touch to help others succeed. I am a reflection of her.”

Trejo said she could not point to a single best memory from her time at UTEP but gave examples of when she assisted students to achieve more than they dreamed possible academically and professionally.

“The special times were when I could help a student to do well and blossom, to nurture their intellect and creativity,” Trejo said. “That’s the thrill.”

What’s Next

Trejo said she will remain with the forensics program at least through the end of August 2018. Her initial interests will be to pursue her love of creative writing and to travel. Initially, she wants to visit points of geographic interest within the continental United States with her husband of 37 years, Tony Trejo, who works for an engineering firm. Eventually, after he retires, the couple would like to vacation in Hawaii and countries throughout Europe.

Regardless of where she goes, Trejo’s thoughts are never far from a sentiment that her mother shared with her in an autograph book she kept as a child. It read, “Dear Mary, It is necessary to do right. It is not necessary to be happy. Love, Mother.”

Necessary or not, Mary Trejo was able to do both and continues to teach others that they can do the same.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Softball Announces Alex Jones to Coaching Staff

UTEP softball head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk announced the addition of Alex Jones to the coaching staff on Friday. Jones previously served as a volunteer assistant coach at Oklahoma State in 2018, while she was a standout performer at Kansas from 2010 to 2014.

Jones will assist in all aspects of the program, with the emphasis on the pitching staff.

“We are extremely excited to add Alex Jones to our staff,” sixth-year UTEP head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk said. “She is a well-rounded coach who brings a ton of energy and passion to the program. She has the ability to help our student-athletes grow and develop.”

While coaching in 2018, the Cowgirls finished the 2018 campaign with a 39-22 overall record and 12-6 mark in Big 12 action. OSU advanced to the NCAA Regionals and chalked up a victory against DePaul, 6-0, on May 19. The Cowgirls hit .314 as a team, while posting a 2.64 ERA this past season.

Jones’s primary focus this past season was working with the Cowgirls’ outfielders and slappers. She was one of the main arms throwing full pitches during batting practice, while also expanding her coaching experience in the bullpen under OSU pitching coach, Jeff Cottrill, who led and oversaw the progress of the staff during the season.

While at Kansas, Jones started in 199 of 201 total contests in the outfield, while starting in 41 games in the circle. She hit .303 (207-684) during her career, while tallying 28 RBI, nine doubles, three triples, and 129 runs scored. Jones snagged 48 stolen bases and drew 42 walks.

Jones set career highs in batting average (.324), hits (56) and runs (43) in 2013. Jones also registered a career bests in RBI (11), doubles (six), stole a career-high 15 bags in 2011. She finished her career third all-time in at-bats (684) and runs (129). In the circle, Jones won 21 contests and tossed 13 complete games. She fashioned a 2.99 ERA, while striking out 159 batters in 196.2 innings of work. She also only walked 87 batters during her four seasons. Jones threw a career-high 92.2 frames during her freshman season in 2010, winning seven contests. Her best season came in 2013 when she went 7-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 43.1 innings, while striking out 51 and walking only 15.

“I feel unbelievably blessed to have the opportunity to continue coaching at UTEP.” Jones said. “After meeting coach Echo-Hawk in Arizona at a tournament back in February with my fiancé, Remington (Rebstock), who was already coaching for UTEP football, I remember thinking how perfect it would be if we could both coach in areas we loved at the same university. When the assistant coaching position became available at the end of season, it was a no-brainer that I was going to go for it. After visiting campus and spending time with the staff and a few of the players, I realized it was an even better situation than I had even imagined. What I thought was just a dream a several months ago is now a reality, and I can’t wait to get started.”

A few facts about Jones are she was teammates with former Miner softball player, Colleen Hohman, at Kansas during the 2012 season and her fiancé, Remington Rebstock, is the cornerbacks coach for the UTEP football team.  Also, Jones is a native of Enid, Okla., which was the home of legendary Hall of Fame UTEP basketball coach Don Haskins.

Saruni Named C-USA Male Track Athlete of the Year

UTEP track and field claimed the Conference USA Male Track Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year with sophomore Michael Saruni being named this year’s award winner, it was announced by the league on Thursday morning.

Saruni was crowned the NCAA Champion in the 800m at the NCAA Track and Field Indoor Championships, where he ran the No. 2 time in collegiate history at 1:45.15. His time ranks just behind his coach Paul Ereng (1:44.84, 1989). The Kenya native set a world best time in the 600m at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate stopping the clock at 1:14.79.

During the outdoor season, Saruni garnered a bronze-medal finish at the 2018 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships with a time of 1:45.31 and earned his fourth-career All-American honor. ]

He etched his name into NCAA track and field history when he clocked the NCAA record in the 800m at the Desert Heat Classic halting the clock at 1:43.25. His time broke the two-year streak held by Donovan Brazier (1:43.55, Texas A&M).

Saruni holds both indoor and outdoor records in the 800m at UTEP. He was also voted as a semi-finalist in The Bowerman watchlist.

Be sure to follow @UTEPTrack on Twitter and UTEPTRACK on Instagram for live results and breaking news.