Posts Tagged ‘Awards & Honors’

Natalia Rodriguez (’17)

University of Houston Class of 2017 College of Natural Science and
Mathematics (NSM) alumna, Natalia Rodriguez, MPH, was selected as a
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2021 Ambassador for
the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. Rodriguez is one of 12
Ambassadors across the U.S. who will work with local leaders to promote
CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign efforts by disseminating HIV
messaging, materials and other CDC resources in the cities that are
identified for campaign implementation efforts. Natalia has a Bachelor’s
degree in Mathematical Biology and is a recent graduate of the University
of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where she earned her
Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology with a concentration in Public
Health Informatics.
CDC Let’s Stop HIV Together website:

Mishell Parreno Taylor (’99, JD ’03)


HOUSTON (January 15, 2021) – Mishell Parreno Taylor, office managing shareholder of the San Diego office of Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management, has been appointed to serve on the Hispanic National Bar Association’s (HNBA) Latina Commission. Parreno Taylor was selected for this position based on her outstanding achievements, deep commitment to the advancement of diverse attorneys in the profession, and active involvement in the HNBA.

The HNBA Latina Commission serves its community and the legal profession by identifying and studying barriers to the professional development and advancement of Latina lawyers. The Commission develops programs and strategies for Latina lawyers and students to overcome barriers to enter and advance in the profession. Its mission is to inform and shape the policies and priorities that affect women lawyers and the legal culture in which they practice, creating forums to understand the views of Latina lawyers and serving as a voice to advocate for these views.

“I am truly honored to have been selected to serve on the HNBA Latina Commission,” said Parreno Taylor. “I believe strongly in the HNBA’s mission, and I look forward to working alongside leadership to further expand opportunities for Latina lawyers across the legal industry.”

Parreno Taylor has been an active member of the HNBA and has served on HNBA panels addressing leading edge employment law trends related to pay equity and building successful diversity and inclusion programs.

At Littler, Parreno Taylor is a member of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Council and the Mexico board of directors, and she previously served as co-chair of Littler’s Reunión Affinity Group – which supports the firm’s Hispanic and Latinx attorneys.

In her practice, Parreno Taylor represents employers of all sizes, ranging from local to global corporations on a broad spectrum of employment law issues. She has extensive experience in handling employment litigation in federal and state courts and administrative agencies across the country with a focus on California and Texas. Parreno Taylor distinguishes herself from many of her peers with her ability to effectively handle employment compliance and litigation in circumstances involving a multilingual and multicultural workforce. In addition, she is committed to helping clients build strong workplace cultures focused on equity and inclusion.

About Littler

With more than 1,600 labor and employment attorneys in offices around the world, Littler provides workplace solutions that are local, everywhere. Our diverse global team and proprietary technology foster a culture that celebrates original thinking, delivering groundbreaking innovation that prepares employers for what’s happening today, and what’s likely to happen tomorrow. For more information, visit


Javier Marcano (’12)

University of Houston ’12 alum Javier Marcano, AIA, WELL AP received the Emerging Professional Young Architect Award from AIA New Orleans — an award recognizing “young architects (those licensed for ten years or less) who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the profession.”

Javier’s most important project to date while at EskewDumezRipple has been rounding out work on the Bruce Museum expansion and renovation.

Crystal Evuleocha (’15)

Crystal Evuleocha was named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 healthcare list for her success with Kiira Health, a telemedicine company focused on providing a safe, confidential platform for women at colleges and universities. Crystal founded Kiira Health because of her own confusion in finding medical help as an undergrad. The platform offers 24/7 phone, video, and chat capabilities with primary care, OB/GYN and mental health clinicians through a mobile app.

Yun D. Chin (Ph.D. ’97)

Y. Doreen Chin, PhD, PE, ASME Fellow and President at Yunka Energy LLC, wins the 2020 SPE International Award for Projects, Facilities and Construction, for her significant contributions to Flow Assurance, renewable and clean energy, her leadership and mentorship to academia to prepare next generation of oil and gas engineers, service to Offshore Technology Conference, Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and her strong project delivery record.

About the Award,
The SPE International Award for Projects, Facilities and Construction recognizes individuals who made outstanding achievements and/or significant technical and professional contributions to the advancement of the petroleum engineering profession and to the worldwide oil and gas industry, in the area of projects, facilities and construction.

About the recipient: (

Y. Doreen Chin is president and founder of Yunka Energy. She had been a plant operator, scientific researcher, professor, engineer, oilfield operator, leader, and entrepreneur, with 38 years of experience in academia, power generation, and oil and gas industries, including project delivery, technology development, engineering design, research, and teaching. She has broad industry experience with major oil and service companies, encompassing deepwater offshore/subsea engineering and onshore shale oil and gas production operations. She was assistant professor of thermal energy at Beijing Technology University, project discipline team lead at Shell International E&P, surface engineering discipline adviser at Shell Oil Company, and senior vice president and partner at Subsea Engineering Technologies.

Chin is currently a member of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Board of Directors and was chairperson of the 2014 OTC Program Committee. She has published more than 50 technical papers in international journals and conferences as well as a technical book on heat exchangers. She is the recipient of the SPE Regional Projects, Facilities, and Construction Award, the SPE Outstanding Technical Editor Award, and the OTC/ASME Arthur Lubinski Best Paper Award.

She holds a BS degree in thermal engineering from Northern China University of Energy, an MS degree in thermophysics from Tianjin University, and a PhD degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston. Chin is a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas.

Bensen Kwan (’19)

Sugar Land-based musician Bensen Kwan, 25, took first place at this year’s Philadelphia International Music Festival (PIMF) Virtual Concerto Competition. The grand prize is a full scholarship to Music House International, PIMF’s immersive, 17-day summer program.

Every year, aspiring musicians from around the world submit recorded auditions for a chance to attend PIMF’s summer music program. Kwan won based on his performance of Keiko Abe’s ‘Prism Rhapsody’ on the marimba.

“[It’s] basically like a festival where many people just come together and play orchestral and chamber music,” Kwan said. “I’ll get to play a solo recital as well.”

The program will take place next summer. Participants will get private lessons with PIMF’s faculty as well as a chance to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Kwan will be a featured performer on PIMF’s You Tube channel.

A graduate of Sugar Land’s Stephen F Austin High School, Kwan credits his decision to become a musician to his high school teacher Brian Stevens.

“It wasn’t that I already knew in high school that I wanted to be a professional musician,” he said. “I just really wanted music to be a part of my life. And I knew that it could also influence other people positively.”

Kwan went on to study Music Education at the University of Houston.

The marimba, a large wooden percussion instrument similar to the xylophone, has gained popularity in recent years, Kwan said.

“Keiko Abe, the composer, is one of my biggest heroes because she was the first person in the world to really popularize it,” said Kwan. “The marimba is an up-and-coming solo instrument that people are, I think, taking more seriously. There’s only one or two graduate programs where you major in just marimba performance. Otherwise you learn all percussion.”

The youngest of three siblings, Kwan grew up in a musical family and started piano at age four. He attributes his marimba-playing to his older brother and sister, who encouraged him to choose band as an elective in middle school.

“My siblings recommended I do percussion because it was like, the coolest instrument out of all,” Kwan said. “At first, I didn’t like it because it was something they forced me to do. But eventually I really started to love it and majored in it.”

Kwan said he spent up to six hours practicing the marimba before the lockdown. He has won numerous awards and accolades, having traveled to Germany last year to study at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

“I got to see the music culture there [Germany]– widely supported by the public and also the government and organizations,” he said. “I think it would benefit everyone, if we had more music, supported by everyone and more performances.”

In addition to piano and marimba, Kwan is also passionate about his steelpan, which, he explained with a smile, is transportable unlike the marimba.

“It comes from Trinidad and is such a lovely instrument,” he said. “I love my steelpan.”

Kwan had the following advice for young musicians:

“Focus on being a better person and the music will follow,” he said. “There’s enough selfish musicians out there.”

Hanneke Faber (’90, M.B.A. ’92)

Ms. Hanneke Faber was ranked 23rd in Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women International” list:

A graduate of the University of Houston, Faber became president of global foods and refreshment at Unilever in 2019, overseeing a $23 billion business operating in 190 countries that includes brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Breyer’s, and Lipton. The unit, Unilever’s second largest, accounts for 37% of the multinational’s total revenue. Faber has taken steps to make her division of Unilever healthier: She sold off its butter and margarine business for a cool $9.4 billion to instead invest in more environmentally and health-conscious food businesses like the Vegetarian Butcher, a global plant-based meat-substitute supplier. Even in the midst of the pandemic, Faber managed to lead her foods and refreshment businesses to results mirroring those of last year.

Morgan Elyse Jozwiak (’12)

Morgan Jozwiak won the 2020 AIG Life & Retirement Community Spirit Award based on her outstanding work with The VEDS Movement, a division of The Marfan Foundation. She worked to train first responders in Houston in how to help individuals with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (VEDS)

Michael L. Preddy (M.A. ’82)

After graduating with a Master of Music Degree from U.H. in 1982, alum Michael Preddy made appearances on Saturday Night Live with The Smothers Brothers, and continued to work for them as their pianist/conductor and one of their managers for the next twenty-five years.

Michael did approximately three seasons of The New Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS from 1987 through 1989, and  was heavily involved as pianist and music coordinator, for which he received an Emmy Nomination for Best Musical Direction. Preddy’s  final engagement with The Smothers Brothers was in 2007 with The Austin Symphony in Austin, TX.  Together they has preformed between 100-200 shows a year for tens of thousands of people. At every show during these 25 years, Dick Smothers introduced Preddy to the audience and always made a point of telling the audience that he received his Master of Music Degree from The University of Houston, a fact Preddy is very proud of.

Notable live performances  include The Tonight Show (multiple appearances), the White House Press Photographers, Jones Hall in Houston with the Houston Symphony Pops, The Kennedy Center in D.C. with the National Symphony, and The Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Philharmonic in 2003.

For his achievements, Preddy received the the Honorable Alumni Award at Pine Tree High School in Longview, TX  in 2001.

Further information can be found on Preddy’s website at

Adam Tyler Rust (’10)

Adam Rust, a managing partner at Helix Insurance Group, has been chosen by The Daily News as a “40 Under 40” honoree. The award highlights Galveston County’s outstanding professionals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated personal and professional success and a commitment to the community.