UTEP Announces 2020 Top 10 Seniors

On Monday, the Miners’ Best of the Best were announced, as the college unveiled their annual ‘Top 10 Seniors Awards.’

“One of the most rewarding projects for the UTEP Alumni Association each year is the selection of UTEP’s Top 10 Seniors,” said Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for UTEPs Office of Alumni Relations.

“These dedicated and hardworking individuals have already done so much in their young lives and their time at UTEP only strengthened their innate talent. We look forward to their work as UTEP alumni. They are future lawyers, educators, doctors, entrepreneurs, financiers and physical therapists. We can’t wait to see all of the great things they will do.

The Top 10 Seniors Awards are presented annually by The University of Texas at El Paso’s Alumni Association to the most zealous and distinguished future alumni.

Seniors who are spring graduation candidates and winter graduates are evaluated in all areas of their academic careers at UTEP.

Recipients of this honor display strong adherence to community engagement, steadfast perseverance, and a commitment to the advancement of not only themselves, but their peers as well. This award recognizes students that approach opposition with hope and passion to turn challenges into opportunities, embodying the spirit of a UTEP Miner.

“Sadly, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we were not able to celebrate these seniors in person with the traditional Top 10 Seniors Banquet, but we have been so impressed by the strength and resolve of these seniors, all of whom stressed the importance of family during this time. We are so proud of them,” Villalva added.

The 2020 UTEP Top 10 Seniors Are:

Ruben Aguirre

Major: Political Science

Future Plans: To open his own law firm in El Paso and provide UTEP students with internships.

 “This University has given me all of the tools to succeed in a demanding and difficult field of law. It allowed me to overcome numerous obstacles throughout my life and has placed my family and I in a much better position,” Aguirre said.


Bryn Ireland Birdwell

Major: Applied Learning and Development

Future Plans: Remain actively promoting UTEP academic and scholarship opportunities, and become a professor in UTEP’s College of Education.

“Thanks to the amazing faculty and staff in the UTEP College of Education, when my two roads diverged, I took the road less traveled by – and that truly has made all the difference,” Birdwell said.


Isaac Noel Gándara

Major: Biological Sciences

Future Plans: To continue medicinal and surgical practices in El Paso.

“By choosing to study at UTEP, I was granted the opportunity to gain extremely valuable experiences that have prepared me for [the] future,” Gándara said.


Yeshey Lham

Major: Economics

Future Plans: Institute a study abroad program for UTEP in Bhutan, work for the Bhutanese Ministry of Economics, and mentor international students.

“Even though UTEP is the first international campus where I have studied, it has always been a home away from home. It never failed to open my eyes to new opportunities and experiences,” Lham said.


Nohemi Lopez Valdez

Major: Biological Sciences

Future Plans: Open a clinic and perform research while mentoring students and advocating for UTEP’s scholar programs.

“UTEP has not only helped me catalyze my academic advancement but has also helped me strengthen and build upon the axioms of effective leadership that I value: collaboration, encouragement, and accountability,” Lopez Valdez said.


Tania Pamela Mariscal Quintana

Major: Finance and Economics (double)

Future Plans: Working with Microsoft as a program manager in the Business Operations and Development division, as well as recruit students to work at Microsoft.

“I developed personally and professionally through my academic and extracurricular experiences, and I want more students to be out there representing UTEP and living unique experiences,” Mariscal Quintana said.


Sandra Navarrete

Major: Accounting

Future Plans: Work in New York in finance and continue mentoring students in the UTEP College of Business Administration.

“It is the sum of my experiences at UTEP that exposed me to new ideas, different career opportunities, and greatly shaped me as a professional,” Navarrete said.


Marlon Andre Picado

Major: Economics

Future Plans: Construct a nonprofit on the Southwest border for immigrant and low-income population health clinics.

“Each UTEP experience prepared me to vigorously work toward a path of becoming a physician and improve the lives of those who yearn for a symbol of hope,” Picado said.


Aiyana Minee Ponce

Major: Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry

Future Plans: Open an inclusive clinic supporting underrepresented groups and become involved in public policy.

“Individuals do not become successful on their own, and I attribute my involvement on and off campus to the UTEP community composed of inspirational students and caring faculty/staff who pushed me to have a high standard of excellence,” Ponce said.


Jozelyn A. Rascon

Major: Rehabilitation Sciences

Future Plans: Become a licensed neurological physical therapist and open a clinic.

“My experience at UTEP has provided me with confidence in my abilities, leadership skills, and a passion for serving my El Paso and Ciudad Juárez communities,” Rascon said.