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Thursday , April 26 2018
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UTEP’s ‘Scholarship For Service’ Graduates Ready to Serve

Not all college graduates have professional plans laid out before receiving their diplomas. But a pair of software engineering students at The University of Texas at El Paso know exactly what lies ahead for them after Commencement.

Pedro Estrada Jr. and Aldo Rafael Perez will enter employment with prominent government agencies in fulfillment of the Scholarship For Service (SFS) program. The awards are part of a National Science Foundation and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative intended to build the capacity of cybersecurity workforce professionals in order to enhance the nation’s security and economic competitiveness.

Estrada and Perez comprise the first cohort of fast-track students who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science in May 2017. Next month, they each will receive their Master of Science in software engineering.

“When selecting the first cohort of SFS Scholars, the committee was mindful that we needed to select students who will represent UTEP well, set the tone for the SFS program, and provide good role models for future scholars,” said Salamah Salamah, Ph.D., associate professor in UTEP’s Department of Computer Science. “Aldo Perez and Pedro Estrada have been exemplary students in every sense. Both are extremely intelligent, hard-working, ambitious, have significant interest in cybersecurity, and possess a real sense of duty and commitment to service. The program committee has been extremely satisfied with the professional development of both Aldo and Pedro, and we are confident that they will represent our SFS program and UTEP very well.”

The impetus for the pair’s journey as SFS Scholars began in January 2016 when a team of UTEP computer science faculty was awarded a highly competitive $3.9 million SFS grant. This prestigious award was created in 2000 by the NSF and DHS, which designated UTEP as one of about 70 CyberCorps institutions nationwide.

As SFS Scholars, Estrada and Perez received full tuition, $3,000 for health insurance, $2,000 for books and school supplies, $4,000 for travel and professional development, and an annual stipend ($34,000 as graduate students and $22,500 as undergraduates). In return, they commit to serving in a government cybersecurity position for a time period equal to the number of years funded by the program.

After graduation, Estrada will relocate to the northeastern United States to work with the Department of Defense, while Perez will work as an analyst at Johns Hopkins University. While the last two years have involved similar circumstances for the pair, the manner in which they reached this point has been disparate.

Perez served six years in the U.S. Air Force with assignments at Ramstein Air Base in Germany and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. He reached the rank of staff sergeant before leaving the service and returning to his hometown of El Paso to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Perez said he became interested in the discipline while working in his military occupational specialty — aircraft hydraulic maintenance. As a noncommissioned officer, Perez said he enjoyed building databases to create efficiencies in the work his subordinates would perform.

“I found it really interesting to create things instead of maintain them,” Perez said. “I really liked that.”

What Perez also liked is the steady paycheck provided by government work. That notion is what drew him to the SFS program, he said. With his time as a student coming to a close, he is looking forward to resuming service to the needs of the country for which he has previously fought.

“When you get into cybersecurity, you’re able to create things that have an impact worldwide,” Perez said. “To have the opportunity to work in a field that has an impact in securing people, securing their information, furthering what we know and enhancing the safety of computer users, it’s a privilege to engage in that work. It’s also a service to our country.”

For Estrada, attaining a bachelor’s, let alone a master’s degree, wasn’t always a goal.

The El Paso native dropped out of Eastwood High School and subsequently earned a GED. He was drawn to the IT field after his disappointment with paying $180 for repair on his personal computer netted subpar results. Estrada attained a few certifications and found steady work with MSD Ignitions in El Paso. After eight years, he came to a realization.

“I wanted more,” Estrada said. “But, in order to move forward — not only with my career but with my life — I needed to make a drastic change that involved significant education.”

Estrada began full-time coursework at El Paso Community College. When he completed two years there, he sought out an adviser about transferring to UTEP but was unsure what degree path to follow. The adviser perused his resume and suggested computer science, to which Estrada obliged. But upon arriving on campus, Estrada realized he had no idea what he had got himself into.

“The first day, the professor told us to log in to our computers and said, ‘OK, let’s start programming,’” Estrada said. “I raised my hand and said, ‘Excuse me, sir, I didn’t sign up for programming. I thought we were going to fix stuff.’”

But despite his early struggles, Estrada persevered. He said he spent a lot of time away from class reading and learning about computing software principles and design patterns. Eventually, he not only grasped the concepts he was learning, he flourished in them, which led to his selection as an SFS Scholar.

Now, Estrada looks forward to helping the Department of Defense in its efforts to keep the country secure.

“I’ve never been a hand-me-a-gun, go-to-the-front-lines kind of guy,” Estrada said. “But, through federal employment I get to give back. It will not only be to my community but to my country, because I’m providing a service that is desperately needed.”

Estrada also hopes his journey can be looked upon as a motivation for others who have experienced academic struggles in their lives.

“I used to be ashamed of the fact (that he had dropped out of high school),” Estrada said. “I feel like I’ve carried that scarlet letter forever. But don’t allow the past to dictate what kinds of decisions and career choices you make. Don’t let your shortcomings be the thing that holds you back.”

That advice is something both initial UTEP SFS Scholars hope the cohorts that follow them will abide by.

The UTEP SFS Scholars award, which extends through December 2020, is scheduled to support more than 30 students with a focus in computer security and information assurance. In addition to the financial benefits of the SFS program, UTEP SFS students receive training to enhance their technical cybersecurity competencies beyond the classroom as well as improve professional skills through technical and professional workshops.

The next cohort of six students is expected to graduate in May 2019.

Author:  Pablo Villa – UTEP Communications

UTEP Golf Finishes Eighth at Conference Tournament

TEXARKANA – The UTEP men’s golf team moved up one spot on the leaderboard, finishing in eighth place out of 13 teams at the 2018 Conference USA Men’s Golf Championship on Tuesday.

The Miners ended their season with a 28-over 892 (297-300-295) stroke play score at the Texarkana Country Club (par 72/ 6,969 yards), but were four spots short of the desired fourth place position to qualify for match play.

UAB never let go of its lead, taking first place in stroke play after firing 8-over 872 (288-294-290) and the No. 1 seed in match play. Middle Tennessee (+13) notched the No. 2 match play seed, Charlotte (+16) nabbed the No. 3 seed and Rice (+17) edged North Texas by one stroke to secure the fourth and final match play slot.

Nicklas Pihl, who captained the Miner run since play began on Sunday, ended at the top of the UTEP scorecard after firing a round of 74 for a 2-over 218 (71-73-74) total to share a spot in sixth place. It marked the best finish of his career playing in Texarkana and his fourth and final appearance at the conference tournament.

The Denmark product picked up five birdies in his final round for a team-leading 14 total, the second-most in the field. Pihl collected 28 pars in his run, while also recording the second-best Par 4 score (3.87 Avg./-4 Sc.) in the tournament.

Aaron Terrazas shot a round of 73 to close out the tournament with a 4-over 220 (78-69-73) score to finish in a tie for 16th place. The junior totaled eight birdies and 35 pars, while his round two score of 69 marked the lowest UTEP round of the tournament.

Moving nine spots up the leaderboard, senior Charles Corner ended his collegiate career in a tie for 31st after shooting 10-over 226 (73-79-74). Corner picked up nine birdies and 29 pars through stoke play.

Settavut Paradee shot a low-round of 74 for a 15-over 231 (75-82-74) performance, lifting him four spots up to 50th place. Paradee paced the team with 38 pars in his debut at the conference tournament. Santiago Castilla, also playing in his first conference tournament, finished in a tie for 51st place after shooting a total of 16-over 232 (78-79-75). Castilla had three birdies and 36 pars through the three rounds.

Together, the Miners totaled 35 birdies and 166 pars while also ranking third in the field in Par 4 scoring (4.13 Avg./+19 Sc.).

The Miners finished the year with one tournament title, their own Price’s “Give ‘Em Five” Invitational championship, and marked eight top-10 finishes, include three top-five finishes, in 12 tournaments this season.

UTEP Volleyball Announces 2018 Slate

The UTEP volleyball team announced its 2018 schedule on Tuesday. Seven home matches, including a three-match home tournament, will take place in Memorial Gym this fall while another 14 road contests will make up the 25-match slate.

Fans will get their first look at the UTEP squad on August 18, when it hosts Universidad Regional del Norte in an exhibition match at Memorial Gym.

The Miners will open the season with four tournaments in as many weeks, beginning with the Tulane Volleyball 1-10 Challenge in New Orleans, La. They will open up the tournament with two matches on Friday, August 24, first against UIW at 10 a.m. MT then a 6 p.m. MT meeting with host Tulane.

UTEP will close out its stay at Tulane with a 9 a.m. MT battle against Louisiana on Saturday, Aug. 25.

The following weekend, the Miners will travel to Omaha, Ne., to compete in the Omaha Challenge Auguust 31 and September 1. UTEP will take on Illinois-Chicago at 9 a.m. MT then UMKC at 4 p.m. MT. Both matches will be played on Friday, August 31. The Miners will face host Omaha at 12 p.m. MT on Saturday, September 1, to close out the tournament.

UTEP will return home to co-host the Borderland Invitational alongside NM State. The team will take on the Pac-12’s Arizona on Friday, September 7 at 5 p.m. MT at the Pan American Center, then return to Memorial Gym on Saturday for a meeting with Montana at 12 p.m. MT. The Orange and Blue will close out their short homestand with a battle against rival NM State on Sunday, September 9, at 1 p.m. MT in Memorial Gym.

A trip to San Diego, Calif., will round out the preseason tournaments when the Miners contest in the SDSU/USD Challenge Sept. 14 and 15. The Miners and Oregon State will face-off on Friday at 1 p.m. MT. The Miners will battle San Diego State on Saturday at 10 a.m. MT before heading back to the Sun City.

Conference USA action will begin on Friday, Sept. 21 when the Miners head to Houston to take on Rice at 5 p.m. MT at Tudor Fieldhouse. UTEP will return home to host Southern Miss on Sunday, September 23 at 12 p.m. MT. A week later, UTSA will roll into Memorial Gym to face the home team on Sunday, September 30, at noon.

League action will continue on the road when the Miners travel to UAB on Friday, October 5 to battle the Blazers at 5 p.m. MT. UTEP and Marshall will meet on Sunday, October 7 at 11 a.m. MT.

A weekend homestand will begin on Friday, October 12 when UTEP hosts Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m. MT in Memorial Gym. The Miners will face FIU on Sunday, October 14 at 12 p.m. MT in front of the El Paso crowd.

The Miners will head to Ruston, La., to challenge LA Tech on Friday, October 19 at 6 p.m. MT, and then prepare for their Sunday match against Middle Tennessee on Sunday, October 21 at 11 a.m. MT in Murfreesboro, Tn.

Closing out the month of October will be a three-match homestand, beginning with four-time defending league champion WKU on Friday, October 26 at 6 p.m. MT. The Miners will meet with Rice for the second time on Sunday, October 28 at noon, and then wrap up the stand with a Sunday meeting against Charlotte on November 4 at 12 p.m. MT.

The Miners will round out regular-season action on road, meeting with North Texas in Denton on Thursday, November 8 at 5 p.m. MT before taking on UTSA on Saturday, November 10 in San Antonio with a time to be determined.

The Conference USA Tournament, hosted by Marshall in Huntington, W.V., will be held November 16-18.

UTEP’s FloraFest Expands to Three-Day Event Starting Friday

The UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens will present FloraFest this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The annual event allows shoppers to choose from more than 2,000 native and desert-adapted plants and visit with local Master Gardeners and other plant experts for advice on how to care for their plants at home.

This year’s FloraFest will include a guest lecture from David Cristiani at 6 p.m. Friday, April 27 in the Undergraduate Learning Center (UGLC), Room 116.

Cristiani will present on the ecological reasons to cultivate arid land gardens – namely those for the Chihuahuan Desert – detail designs that work and don’t work, and assist in solving typical garden design issues.

A reception will follow the lecture.

Most of the plants sold at FloraFest are not available at local nurseries or retailers.

This is the only fundraising event for the maintenance and operation of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens and is the largest sale of its kind in the region.

What: 2018 FloraFest Native Plant Sale
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29
Where: Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Garden, corner of Wiggins Way and University Avenue on the UTEP campus

Pihl Stays in the Top-Five, Miner Golf Drops to Ninth on Leaderboard

TEXARKANA – After ending his round on two birdies, Nicklas Pihl stayed even-par to remain in the top-5 of the field, but the UTEP men’s golf team dropped six spots on the leaderboard to ninth place out of 13 teams after day two of stoke play at the 2018 Conference USA Men’s Golf Championship.

The Miners shot 12-over 300 for a tournament total of 21-over 597 (297-300) at the Texarkana Country Club (par 72/ 6,969 yards), putting the team eight strokes out of qualifying for match play on Wednesday with one round of stroke play left. Middle Tennessee and UAB are tied for the field lead with a 6-over 582 total, while Rice is in third place with 10-over 586 (303-283).

UTSA and North Texas are tied for the fourth and final qualifying spot for match play after totaling 13-over 589. The final round of stroke play will be tomorrow, the Miners will begin to tee off at 8 a.m. CT alongside Southern Miss and Western Kentucky.

Pihl paced the Miners for the second straight day, firing 1-over 73 for an even-par 144 (71-73) total. He started his day with four-straight bogeys, but Pihl bounced back with six birdies, including four on the back-nine. The senior leads the team with nine birdies.

Behind five birdies and only two bogeys, Aaron Terrazas had a strong round of 69 for a 3-over 147 (78-69) total, lifting him 31 spots up the leaderboard to tie for 14th place. Three of his five birdies were collected on Par 5s, helping Terrazas to tie for second in the field in Par 5 scoring (4.50 avg./-4 Sc.). The junior has six birdies total and 22 pars.

“Nick [Pihl] and Aaron were great,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “Nick fought really well today. I’m happy for the both of them.”

Charles Corner shot a round of 79 for a 8-over 152 (73-79) total and a share of 40th place. The senior picked up four birdies for eight total. Rounding out the Miner scorecard, Settavut Paradee and Santiago Castilla both tied for 54th after totaling 13-over 157. Paradee had a round two score of 82 and leads the team in pars with 24, while Castilla chalked in a round of 79 with a birdie.

As a unit, the Miners have totaled 25 birdies and 104 pars.

The top four finishers in stroke play will move on to the match play portion of the tournament to be played on Wednesday, April 25.

“We just need a complete performance, top to bottom, and we haven’t had that yet,” Lieberwith said. “We’re going to have to play one of the best rounds of the year [tomorrow]. We’re going to have to be on tomorrow.”

Live stats are available via

Video+Story: UTEP Partnership Offers Dose of Cancer Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 31,500 newly diagnosed cases of cancers caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, infections each year in the United States. But adults have a shot at preventing HPV-related cancers if they get vaccinated against the infection during childhood or adolescence.

That is why Karen Del Rio Guzman, a health promotion senior at The University of Texas at El Paso, plans to vaccinate her two-year-old daughter against HPV when the time is right. The American Cancer Society recommends that the cancer preventive vaccine be given to girls and boys starting at age 11 or 12 up to adults age 26.

“Ideally people should get the vaccine before they become sexually active and exposed to HPV,” said Del Rio Guzman, a research assistant in UTEP’s Department of Public Health Sciences. “As parents, it is important to educate our children to protect today’s young people from future HPV-related cancers.”

In an effort to help parents make an informed decision about vaccinating their children, UTEP’s Department of Social Work has partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and the Mexican Consulate in El Paso’s “Ventanilla de Salud” health care program to launch the EdTech-HPV education and technology project.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. The CDC found that 14 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. While most HPV infections clear up, some lead to cervical cancer and other cancers.

“I was aware of the HPV vaccine because of my classes, however, I never understood the challenges people in the community face to receive it,” Del Rio Guzman said. “For many it is difficult to get transportation to health clinics, and bringing the service to the community is more convenient. Others are not informed about the vaccine, however while seeking other services they learn about it at the health fairs.”

HPV Education 101

EdTech-HPV is a multiple site, community-based project operating in Mexican Consulates in New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago and El Paso that aims to increase HPV vaccination rates among children of Mexican immigrants through education and text messaging.

The project will look at barriers to HPV vaccination in underserved populations, such as lack of transportation, cost or inadequate information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

Funded by the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities, the five-year project is led by Abraham Aragones, M.D., a physician and public health researcher at MSK’s Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service. Eva Moya, Ph.D., UTEP social work interim chair and associate professor, is the site principal investigator in El Paso.

“This is an interprofessional community-driven project that allows for a lot of education to be done in the community,” Moya said.

Starting in March, EdTech-HPV project coordinators Martha Villaseñor, a Ventanilla de Salud community health worker specialist, and UTEP social work alumna Marina Ramirez, began to recruit parents of HPV vaccine-eligible children between the ages of 11 and 17 to participate in the project at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso.

Interested parents will receive information about HPV, the vaccine’s benefits, and referrals to local services like the City of El Paso’s Department of Public Health, Texas Tech and Project Vida that offer the HPV vaccination to children for free or at a low cost.

Villaseñor said that although many parents are uncomfortable talking about topics related to sexual behavior, most are grateful for the information.

“This is taboo,” Villaseñor explained before giving a presentation on HPV at the consulate. “Some people get uncomfortable when you talk about the body’s private parts and they look up at the ceiling or turn around. But others are very interested and they come to us and ask questions and want more information because people are afraid of the risks. They say, ‘How am I going to expose my daughter or my son if I can do something about it?’”

A Shot at Prevention

The HPV vaccination is a series of shots – two for ages 11 to 14 and three for 15 to 26-year-olds – administered over six to 12 months. According to the CDC, receiving the full vaccination series could prevent 90 percent of HPV-related cancers.

After the first dose, parents will receive text messages reminding them of follow-up shots. Once the series is complete, parents will forward a picture of the shot record to researchers, who will compare vaccination rates at the different sites.

Although El Paso has a 66 percent HPV vaccination rate – the highest in Texas and higher than every state except Rhode Island – males in Texas and the rest of the U.S. were less likely than females to be up to date on HPV vaccines.

“I think we’re going to find that most of the young ladies have already been vaccinated against HPV because most of them are vaccinated in the 5th grade in Mexico,” said Marina Ramirez, who earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work from UTEP. “But boys run a high risk because they also need to be vaccinated. A lot of people used to think this is a women’s problem. So this is helping to shift the focus and say, ‘This is everybody’s problem.’”

HPV is a vaccine preventable infection than can be largely eliminated in the U.S., but only if vaccine completion rates are improved, said Aragones, the project’s leader.

One of the Healthy People 2020 objectives is to increase HPV vaccine completion rates to 80 percent for females ages 13 to 15 by 2020.

“If we reach our goal of vaccinating 80 percent of children, we could prevent over 30,000 cases of cancer in the future,” Aragones said. “The HPV vaccine’s purpose is to prevent cancer. If in 10 years a woman dies from cervical cancer, that should not have happened. It’s in our hands to prevent HPV-related cancers.”

Aragones will speak about his HPV-related research at the El Paso Immunization Coalition (EPIC) 2018 Conference in El Paso on April 27, and at the Sexual, Reproductive Health and HPV Workshop for Community Health Workers in the Health Sciences and Nursing Building on April 28.

To learn more about EdTech-HPV, click above to watch a video about the project. It features information from experts, health advocates and personal stories from people in the community, including Karen Del Rio Guzman.

Author:  Laura L. Acosta – UTEP Communications

UTEP Tied for Third After Round One Of Conference Tournament

TEXARKANA – Seniors Nicklas Pihl and Charles Corner each finished day one in the top-10 to lift the UTEP men’s golf team to a share of third place out of 13 teams after round one of the 2018 Conference USA Championship on Sunday.

“We’re in fine shape, we’re only one round in, there’s a lot of golf left to play,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “We just have to play our game and clean some things up tomorrow (Monday).”

The Miners are tied with second-seeded Middle Tennessee with 9-over 297, while UAB is leading the field after an even-round of 288 and UTSA is in second place with 8-over 296.

Competition at the Texarkana Country Club (par 72/6,969 yards) will resume Monday, April 23, with the Miners teeing off alongside top-seed North Texas on hole one beginning at 8:40 a.m. CT for the second round of stroke play. The top four finishers in the stroke play portion of the tournament will move on to match play on Wednesday, April 25.

Pihl captains the Miner run after three birdies on the back-nine helped him remain under par for a round of 71 and a share of fourth place out of a pool of 65 competitors. The senior, playing in his fourth conference tournament, only bogeyed twice in the round. Corner slipped into the top-10 after firing 1-over 73 to claim a spot in a seven-way tie for seventh place.

Corner notched four birdies to lead the team and is tied for first in Par 5 scoring (4.25 avg./-3 Sc.), while Pihl is tied for second in the field in Par 3 scoring (3.00 avg./ E Sc.).

“It was great today for Nick and Charlie [Corner],” Lieberwirth said. “Nick played maybe the best round of golf he’s played here in his four years at Texarkana. It was a very solid round of golf. Charlie got off to a rough start, but fought his way back into it.”

Settavut Paradee made his way into the top-20 after firing 3-over 75 to share a spot in 18th place. Paradee leads the field in pars with 15 after his steady round. Santiago Castilla and Aaron Terrazas both shot 6-over 78 to tie for 46th place. Both picked up a birdie and 11 pars each.

As a unit, the Miners pace the field in pars with 59 and have collected nine birdies.

“It [Texarkana Country Club] didn’t yield much, it’s a tricky golf course that’s set up very well,” Lieberwirth said. “You have to hit greens out here, there was about two inches of rain here last night so some of the areas around the greens were really tight and wet. Bermuda grass is just very difficult to get around.”

The stroke play portion of the tournament will conclude on Tuesday and match play will begin on Wednesday. Live stats for the tournament are available here.

Late Surge Powers Ole Miss Past UTEP 7-1

Julia Wright notched a solid performance for UTEP, but Ole Miss scored four runs in the seventh to pull away and top the Miners, 7-1, on Saturday afternoon at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

The Rebels improve to 25-18 overall, while the Miners fall to 18-28. UTEP will continue Conference USA action next weekend at Middle Tennessee.

Wright (5-15) threw all 7.0 frames and recorded five strikeouts and only two walks allowed on 98 total pitches. Two earned runs were credited to Wright.

UTEP registered four hits – Kaitlin Ryder singled in the first, while Courtney Clayton, Taylor Sargent and Kacey Duffield each singled in the third.

Ole Miss went up 1-0 in the first inning on a Brittany Finney single.

The Miners, as they did last night, got runners aboard during the Saturday contest. But UTEP stranded three in back-to-back innings (second and third) early in the contest. The Miners recorded all their hits against Ole Miss starter Kaitlin Lee. UTEP left three runners on during the second inning on a pair of errors, while Pamala Baber was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Left-handed pitcher Anna Borgen (4-5) who earned her first save on Friday night, came into relief in the fourth frame and kept UTEP’s bats in check, not allowing a hit and retiring the final 12 batters. Borgen got the win after throwing the final 4.0 innings. Lee tossed 3.0 frames.

With the score 2-0, UTEP got on the board in the third frame when Kira McKechnie was hit by a pitch with bases to loaded, scoring Ryder.

But Ole Miss scored another run during the fourth to make the count 3-1 and Alex Schneider put the ball game away when she connected on a three-run home run in the seventh.

Miners Rally Comes Up Short, Falls to Ole Miss 8-4

Ole Miss of the SEC jumped out to a big lead after a five-run sixth, but UTEP held its own, scoring three runs in the seventh while the game-tying run came to the plate. But the Rebels (24-18) held off the Miners’ (18-27) rally, winning 8-4 on a brisk and breezy Friday night at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex in front of a rowdy and loud crowd of 451 fans.

UTEP and Ole Miss will conclude the weekend series on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Miners registered 10 hits, as Kaitlin Ryder finished 3-for-3 with a RBI and run, and Courtney Clayton went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI, along with her team-leading fourth triple. Cortney Smith added a 3-for-4 outing, while Kacey Duffield and Taylor Sargent each singled.

Ole Miss got the on the board first during the first when Brittany Finney used a two-out single to go ahead 1-0. The Rebels scored two more runs during the fourth to go up 3-0.

In the fifth, UTEP put a run on the board to get within a pair of runs. Clayton led off the home half with a triple hit to right center. Ryder plated her best friend on a sac-fly hit to left to make the score 3-1.

The Rebels answered with the five runs in the sixth to go up 8-1.

But the Miners showed more resiliency, proving they can hit on SEC pitching.

After Ariana Valles drew a one-out walk and eventually reached second base on a wild pitch. Clayton then drove Valles home with her second hit of the night, a hard single to left center. Ryder then doubled down the right line, advancing Clayton to third base. Duffield made the score 8-3 on a sac-fly hit to right, plating Clayton for her second run of the night.

Sargent followed with a single of her own, brining Ryder across the dish, making the count 8-4. Smith singled for a third time during the evening and Kira McKechnie drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. But Ole Miss pitcher Anna Borgen forced the final batter to ground out to earn her first save of the season.

McKechnie (9-8) made the start in the circle, throwing a complete game and tallying three K’s.

Clayton’s triple was the sixth of her career. She ranks tied for second on the program’s all-time list with teammate Sargent and Sarah Ramirez. Clayton, with her 2-for-4 outing, recorded her 71st multi-hit game, while starting her 201st consecutive game.

Ryder registered her 95th career RBI and upped her average to .331 on the season. Smith, with her three hits, increased her batting average to .301.

UTEP put runners on board, but left 11 stranded to Ole Miss’s four.

Mining Minds Special Lighting Commemorates Honors Convocation

The “Mining Minds” pickaxe sculpture at UTEP’s University Avenue roundabout will be illuminated in blue and orange Sunday evening, April 22, 2018, in honor of The University of Texas at El Paso’s Honors Convocation.

Each spring, the University salutes the achievements of students, staff and faculty in areas of service, leadership and academics. Numerous awards will be presented at this year’s Honors Convocation, including the UTEP Top Ten Senior Awards, which are given to students who have achieved success academically and through their University and community involvement.

“Mining Minds” is an iconic piece of public art installed in 2010 to enhance the UTEP campus. At night, orange lights illuminate the steel structure while light from LEDs emanates from the perforated “ones” and “zeroes” at each end of the pick.

On special occasions, including historic dates, major annual milestones and to celebrate special accomplishments, the pick is illuminated in blue and orange.

The ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. April 22 in Magoffin Auditorium.

UTEP Golf’s Corner Named to 2018 InTouch Credit Union All-Academic Team

IRVING, Texas – For his work on the golf course and the classroom, UTEP men’s golf senior Charles Corner was recognized by Conference USA as one of five men’s golf student-athletes named to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union All-Academic Team, the league announced Friday.

“He’s [Corner] is a phenomenal student-athlete,” head coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “He does everything right, in the classroom he works really hard and he’s really successful and it translates over to the golf course as well. He’s been our best player this year and I’m really proud of Charlie and what he’s brought to our program. He’s been a great player, a great student and a good ambassador of our program. This is a very high honor and he’s extremely worthy of it.”

Corner made his way onto the all-academic squad with a 3.60 in finance. The Canada product is a returner from the 2017 C-USA championship squad, and has finished at the top of the Miner scorecard in four of five spring tournaments. He has constructed a team-best 71.5 stroke average through 10 events with three top-five finishes.

His second-place showing at the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Invitational lifted UTEP to a team crown. Corner is a multi-C-USA Honor Roll winner and Academic Medal recipient and was also an all-conference second team selection and a Golf Coaches Association of America Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar.

Also making the all-academic list was Marshall’s Alex Weiss, Middle Tennessee duo James Beckner and Chip Thomas, and Rice’s Mitchell Meissner.

The Miners will begin their quest to defend their C-USA title beginning April 22 through April 25 at the Texarkana Country Club in Texarkana, AR.

Live Stats will be available here.

UTEP’s Saruni Named to The Bowerman Mid-Outdoor Watch List

Michael Saruni was named to The Bowerman Mid-Outdoor Watch List, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association announced Thursday afternoon.

The Bowerman consists of the top-10 track and field athletes throughout the country and is regarded as the most prestigious track and field honor in the collegiate ranking.

The sophomore is ranked highly in both the 400m and 800m. Saruni clocked an altitude-converted time of 45.53 in the 400m at the Don Kirby Tailwind Open, which ranks him No. 3 in the country. He followed that up with a time of 1:48.39 in the 800m the next week at the Texas Invitational, which puts him 17th in the nation.

This marks the Kenya native’s second appearance on the watch list after making the outdoor preseason list. He is just the fourth Miner to receive national recognition following Blessing Okagbare (2010) Anthony Rotich (2014 and 2015), and Emmanuel Korir (2017). Okagbare is the only Miner to be a finalist for the prestigious award.

Saruni and the UTEP track and field team will head out west to Tucson, Ariz., for the Desert Heat Classic for the final regular-season meet on April 28th.

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

UTEP Softball to Host SEC’s Ole Miss Friday, Saturday

The UTEP softball team will take a break from league action and will host Southeastern Conference program Ole Miss April 20 and 21 at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex.

Friday’s contest between the Miners (18-26) and Rebels (23-18) will start at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s game is set for a 4 p.m. start.

Friday night’s contest is a ‘Blackout’ as tickets will be $2 for fans who wear black.

The Miners are on a four-game winning streak and have won seven of their last 10 contests, after shutting out New Mexico on April 16. The Miners threw a no-hitter against New Mexico on Feb. 17 in Las Vegas, Nev., during an 8-0 win in five innings. UNM went hitless for the first 4.1 frames during Monday’s contest.

Prior to the victory against UNM, UTEP is coming Conference USA foe North Texas April 14-15.

UTEP first baseman Kacey Duffield was named the C-USA Player of the Week after her clutch performance during the Miners’ sweep against the Mean Green during the weekend. The junior hit .600 with a slugging percentage of 1.400. Duffield hit two home runs with four runs and racking up seven RBI.

Sunday’s contest ended in unique fashion as back-to-back putouts were recorded from left and right field, respectively, to complete the series sweep. In back-to-back UNT at bats, Kaitlin Ryder threw a runner at home from left field to record the second out, while Taylor Sargent threw out another runner at home from right field.

With the sweep against North Texas, the Miners jumped up to the no. 9 spot in the conference standings, as the top eight schools will advance to the C-USA Softball Championship May 9-12 in Charlotte, N.C.

C-USA series sweep was the first for UTEP since sweeping North Texas April 30-May 1, 2016.

UTEP, after a 1-8 start in C-USA action, is 6-3 since when with a pair of victories against UTSA (March 30), a triumph at WKU (April 7) and the recent series sweep against UNT. UTEP also improved to 12-4 at home overall, while its league home mark is 6-3. UTEP defeated UAB, 16-13, on March 18.

UTEP senior Courtney Clayton, who started her 200th consecutive game on April 16, ranks third in C-USA with a .406 batting average, while ranking in the top 10 in multiple offensive categories. Ryder ranks in the top 30 in C-USA with a .315 average. Ryder, who had struggled a bit at the plate, is hitting .476 during her last seven starts.

Junior hurlers Kira McKechnie and Julia Wright have combined for four wins during the four-game winning streak, while Wright earned her C-USA-leading fourth save against North Texas on Saturday.

Wright also tied the program’s single-season record with her fourth save. Wright added her first complete-game shutout in the mix on Monday against New Mexico.


UTEP is 0-1 all-time as it fell 6-4 against Ole Miss on March 6, 2011 in Denton, Texas. Kayla Black put the Miners ahead 2-0 in the top first after she connected on a two-run home run.

With the score 4-2 in favor of Ole Miss, Kia Moore brought the Miners within a run during the fourth when she was hit by a pitch with bases loaded. Moore also scored a run in the seventh inning.


The Rebels are coming off a 7-0 victory against ULM on April 18 in Oxford, Miss. Old Miss is 23-18 overall on the season and 5-13 in SEC play after losing the first two games against Mississippi State, but coming back to win the third game of the series, 7-6, after being down 6-3 on Sunday.

Ole Miss is 6-4 in its last 10 contests, that includes a victory against no. 14 LSU on April 8. Ole Miss also defeated no. 3 Oregon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on Feb. 17. The Rebels are hitting .253 with 13 home runs. Kylan Becker leads the team with a .323 batting average and has tallied 10 RBI, while Elantra Cox paces the squad with 18 stolen bases, while hitting .315 with 10 RBI.

Autumn Gillespie leads the team with 25 RBI and seven doubles, and is tied with Amanda Roth (.147 avg.) for the team lead with three home runs. Ole Miss has a 2.72 ERA, while Kaitlin Lee (13-8) leads the team in wins, starts (19), innings pitched (128.1) and K’s (64). Ava Tillmann (3-3) has a 2.46 ERA in 48.1 innings and Anna Borgen (3-5) has fashioned a 2.46 ERA in 49.2 innings.


Ole Miss is only the second SEC program to play in the Sun City. Missouri played a pair of contests on March 21, 2016. UTEP dropped both contests, but Taylor Sargent hit .500 with two doubles and scored a run.

Sargent also registered two RBI and drew a walk in the series. UTEP (0-8) has yet to defeat a SEC program. UTEP also faced Missouri to open the 2018 campaign while taking on Arkansas in 2004, Tennessee in 2004 and 2009, Ole Miss in 2011 and Texas A&M in 2016.


The top three teams (by winning percentage) in each division, along with two Wild Card teams from either division will advance to the Conference USA Championship in Charlotte, N.C. May 9-12. As of April 19, UTEP is standing in ninth place in the C-USA overall standings.

LA Tech (13-5) leads the West Division, while Florida Atlantic (9-6) leads the East. UAB (10-4-1) ranks second in the West, while North Texas (8-7) sits at third in the West. Marshall (10-7-1) is in second and FIU (8-7) is in third in the East. Middle Tennessee (7-8) and WKU (7-8) occupy the Wild Card spots.

MT will host FAU this weekend, while Marshall will play at WKU. UTSA will host Southern Miss, and North Texas will host FIU. UAB will play at LA Tech.

UTEP Football to Host Youth Camp May 19

In a month, UTEP football head coach Dana Dimel and the rest of the coaching staff will be hosting the 2018 UTEP Youth Football Camp. The camp is offered to children in grades K-8 without any extra requirements.

Participants may sign up for the May 19 camp as either an individual or a team with an enrollment fee of $26.50 per player.

This camp is an opportunity for players to learn fundamentals and advanced skills from high level coaches. Campers will get to compete in both offensive and defensive positions to experience every aspect of the game.

The Youth Football Camp will take place on Saturday, May 19 at the Sun Bowl Stadium, giving participants a true Division I College Football experience. Campers are asked to bring tennis shoes, shorts, a t-shirt, and socks.

Football cleats and mouthpieces are encouraged but optional.

Enrollment will close May 18 at 11:30 PM. Registration for the camp is now open online.


UTEP’s Heritage House Shines Light on Institution’s Past

With all the hustle and bustle of college life, it is understandable if students, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at El Paso ignore the nondescript two-story, sand-colored stucco building “hidden” in the center of campus. Understandable, but unfortunate.

The building in question is Heritage House, 405 Kerbey Ave. It has served many purposes through the years from home to classroom to gallery. It is a valued depository of artifacts and memorabilia that chronicles and celebrates UTEP’s existence and traditions starting from its days as the State School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1914.

The wall-to-wall displays and special exhibits overseen by UTEP’s Heritage Commission can educate about the campus’ past or elicit warm waves of nostalgia.

For Ramiro Martinez, a retired El Paso pharmacist who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UTEP in 1967, it was a little of both. He found himself sitting in the Heritage Conference Room, the former home’s dining area, lost in the past as he fingered through an old Flowsheet yearbook.

Martinez said he passed the Heritage House as a student, but never gave the building much thought. At that time, the converted home was used for special University projects.

While on campus for 2017 Homecoming activities, someone recommended he visit the house. One hour into his tour, he was having a pseudo-reunion because he found several of his college buddies on the black-and-white pages of the Flowsheet.

“(Heritage House) is very nice,” said Martinez, who was appointed to the Heritage Commission in November 2017 because of his interest. “It’s nice to come back and see how things were. There’s a lot of history here.”

The home houses collections of books, photos, uniforms, sculptures, paintings and assemblies of glassware, jewelry and different incarnations of UTEP mascot Paydirt Pete. The Heritage Commission has an inventory of thousands of artifacts, which includes approximately 2,000 glossy, black-and-white photos of the campus, people on campus and campus activities throughout the years.

Built in 1920, the building served as home to the institution’s first dean, Steve H. Worrell, and his wife, Kathleen. The Worrells deeded the home to the college after they left in 1923. It remained a residence until the 1960s when it was used as a classroom, for special projects, and eventually for facilities services. University President Diana Natalicio approved renovations to the property and turned it over to the Heritage Commission in 1994.

UTEP formally created the 30-member Heritage Commission on Oct. 8, 1980, to preserve the University’s artifacts. The all-volunteer group is made up mostly of retired alumni, faculty and staff. Before Heritage House, members kept memorabilia in their offices and in the basement of the Administration Building.

Commission members inventory donations, respond to research inquiries and set up displays in Heritage House and the glass display case

UTEP’s Heritage Commission, pictured during a spring 2018 meeting near Miner Canyon student housing, oversees the research and displays at Heritage House. Photo: Laura Trejo / UTEP Communications

outside the Tomás Rivera Conference Center on the third floor of Union Building East. They also lead tours mostly for interested alumni and student groups.

The main draw for the hundreds of annual visitors is to learn about the campus’ history, heritage and traditions.

Briane Carter, Heritage Commission chair and former director of UTEP’s University Career Center, did not mince words when discussing the importance of Heritage House.

“If (Heritage House) wasn’t here, the history of UTEP would be lost,” Carter said. “We’re here to preserve that history and allow visitors to rediscover it.”

One of her favorite Heritage House stories involves Tatsumi Morizuka, a retired resident of Kawai-Cho, Japan, who stopped by UTEP during a bus and train tour of the southern United States in 2016.

Morizuka was familiar with California and some Northeastern states, but wanted to experience the Southwest, especially UTEP, which he read about in a Japanese guide book. He praised the campus in general, and was specifically glad to have spent time in Heritage House. He said the photos and exhibits were wonderful ways to familiarize first-time visitors with the University’s history and traditions.

“The time I spent at Heritage House was precious and unique,” Morizuka said in an email interview, adding that he did not know of any similar gallery at a Japanese university. “It is as if I had been transported to a small, fancy land.”

Stephanie Meyers, DMA, professor of music, said the house is a “big hit” with participants of her String Project, a program that offers string instrument instruction to area elementary school students. She said the children are especially fond of the different Paydirt Pete costumes, some of which date back to before their parents were born.

“They see (Heritage House) as a warm, inviting place,” Meyers said. “They love everything about it.”

The C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department in the University Library often collaborates with Heritage House, said Claudia Rivers, director of Special Collections and a de facto member of the Heritage Commission.

The two entities have similar, but different, missions. Whereas Heritage House collects and displays UTEP artifacts, Special Collections is a cache of documents about the University and beyond to include the City of El Paso, the Southwest region and the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We work closely with them,” Rivers said. “They are a wonderful resource. There are a lot of knowledgeable people there who perform a great service for the University.”

Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for alumni relations, praised the Heritage Commission for the countless hours they spend archiving, caring for and displaying the memorabilia, and then educating the public about the University. The commission and Heritage House are supported by UTEP’s Office of Alumni Relations.

“We are so grateful for these dedicated volunteers who have chosen to give back to UTEP in this meaningful way,” Villalva said. “They help us to preserve UTEP’s proud history.”

For more information, visit the Heritage House website.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

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