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Pioneering Student Awards honor students, faculty

The Graduate Student Council hosted its annual Pioneering Spirit Awards for Graduate Students and Faculty in a virtual format on Friday, April 9. Students were honored for their academic success, research initiatives, and teaching contributions. Faculty and departments were recognized for their overall support of graduate students.

Award recipients and nominees were:

Distinguished Staff Member

Jillian Morales (multicultural women’s & gender studies, Denton)


  • Ivy Naude (sociology, Denton)
  • Naomi Graham (human development, family studies, & counseling, Denton)
  • Deborah Uruh (student life, Houston)
  • Bethany Windal (business, Denton)


Distinguished Graduate Faculty Member

Xiaofen Du (nutrition & food science, Denton)


  • Tamby Allen (communication sciences & disorders, Denton)
  • Joyce Armstrong (human development, family studies, & counseling, Denton)
  • Jessica Gullion (sociology, Denton)
  • Julie Herbstrith (school psychology, Denton)
  • Wendi Johnson (school psychology, Denton)
  • Celia Lo (sociology, Denton)
  • Camelia Maier (biology, Denton)
  • Katy Mitchell (physical therapy, Houston)
  • Catalina Pislariu (biology, Denton)
  • Sadri Mahmoud (sociology, Denton)
  • Claire Sahlin (multicultural women’s & gender studies, Denton)
  • Rachel Sieber (occupational therapy, Houston)
  • Wesley Tucker (nutrition & food science, Houston)
  • Gwendolyn Weatherford (kinesiology, Denton)
  • James Williams (sociology, Denton)


Graduate Assistant Award of Excellence

Alexandra Woodson (school psychology, Denton)


  • Mengjie Cao (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Rachelle Gandy (multicultural women’s & gender studies, Denton)
  • Jasmine Hammer (school psychology, Denton)
  • Ernesto Rodriguez (healthcare & business administration, Houston)


Graduate Research Assistant Award of Excellence

Meredith Higgins (psychology, Denton)


  • Natalie Garcia (occupational therapy, Dallas)
  • Mohammed Farhan Lakdawala (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Victor Lozada (reading education, Denton)
  • Taylor Hickman (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Ashley MacKinen (occupational therapy, Denton)
  • Samara Hala (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Daniel Stefanelli (English, Denton)


Graduate Teaching Assistant Award of Excellence

Jonbit Prost (sociology, Denton)


  • Elizabeth Cozby (rhetoric, Denton)
  • Kelly Boon (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Cheryl Erickson (school psychology, Denton)
  • Mohammed Farhan Lakdawala (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Shamethia Webb (mutlicultural women’s & gender studies, Denton)


Master’s Student Award of Excellence

Olivia Mata-Williams (social work, Denton)


  • Juliana Bershell (school psychology, Denton)
  • BK Nabin (kinesiology, Denton)


Doctoral Student Award of Excellence

Daytheon Sturges (health studies, Denton)


  • Shannon Combest (nutrition & food science, Houston)
  • Qin Yang (kinesiology, Denton)
  • Bhoomi Madhu (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Alexandra Woodson (school psychology, Denton)
  • Sukhbir Kaur Lulla (molecular biology, Denton)
  • Petina Powers (sociology, Denton)
  • Yasar Kasu (molecular biology, Denton)