Posts Tagged ‘Career News’

Mark D. Solano (’13)

Mark D. Solano has recently been brought on to lead city engagement for autonomous vehicle startup, Nuro. Based in Silicon Valley, Nuro’s efforts in Houston are the first wide-scale testing for this type of technology. This line of work increases Houston’s positioning as a tech leader and as the new Silicon Bayou.

Xavia Rolle-Higgs (’11)

University of Houston graduate Xavia Rolle-Higgs is a multi-faceted solopreneur. The wedding planner and self-described foodie officially began her career at Atlantis Resorts as a Social Catering Manager in December 2011. At Atlantis, she got her feet wet in destination wedding management. After three years of planning and executing weddings and events, she was sought out by Melia Nassau Beach Resorts in 2014 to organize and head the newly formed Romance Department.

With a desire to create a businesses and build an empire in 2016 she decided to “Jump” and carry out her vision. She is now the Chief Executive Officer of Xa La Mode Wedding & Event Planning and the President of POW! Pancakes, Omelettes and Waffles Mobile Restaurant.

With over 160 successful weddings planned under her belt, Xavia Rolle-Higgs is a seasoned wedding planner. With this experience Xa La Mode has also created a keepsake guide for brides-to-be to assist in their wedding planning. She published her first specialized wedding planner, ‘Our Wedding Our Way’. The planning guide was launched in March 2016. As for her second business, Xavia has always had a love for food and making omelettes. As a student and college intern in the University of Houston’s School of Hotel & Restaurant Management, Conrad Hilton College, she worked the breakfast assembly line, whipping up custom omelettes for customers. Xavia wanted to find a way to marry her love for eating food and her experience in making breakfast and brunch menu items. After much creative planning, she formed her mobile brunch food truck, POW!

As a business owner, Xavia demonstrates her love for philanthropy. In 2018 she participated in Paradise Plates, Hands For Hunger and also partnered with the Kiwanis Club for their Christmas charitable event. In 2019 she shared her wealth of knowledge with students at The Salvation Army for the blind. She educated them about the triumphs and pitfalls of entrepreneurship. Xavia played an instrumental role by sitting on panels such as The Bahamian Exchange, Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, The Rotary Club and The Blueprint Planner to name a few where she also shared her wealth of knowledge as a business owner. After hurricane Dorian, it was pivotal for Xavia to assist the citizens of Abaco and Grand Bahama by donating a monetary gift on behalf of POW! At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Xavia launched a Podcast show called Entrepreneurial Edge. The show aims to inspire, motivate, educate and challenge budding and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Xavia is now bringing a unique taste experience to Nassau by introducing a new twist to mobile food service with POW! Launched in February of 2017, the brunch on-demand business that caters to private functions, local festivals and pop-up locations has grown organically into a fulltime operational mobile restaurant in New Providence. In July 2022, phase three of POW will be launched. It will be the very first restaurant storefront for what started as a pop-up Food Truck.

Xavia’s goal is to expand both businesses and create memorable events and taste experiences for her customers

Rudolph Zepeda, Jr. (’66)

Served with the USAF in Southeast Asia with the rank of Captain in 1969.. Received an MBA from the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management in 1972 and an MS from Nova Southeastern University in 1991. Began International Banking career with First City National of Houston in 1973 and moved to Miami in 1981 to manage a foreign bank. Retired after 23 years with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta as Senior Foreign Technical Assistance Advisor and Directing Examiner. Currently Commander of American Legion Post 31 in South Miami, Florida.

Victoria Molinar (’11)

This year marks alum Victoria Molinar’s tenth year as a teacher. She did her student teaching and earned her teachers certification at UH and is very proud to be a Houston Cougar.

Nawshaba Zaman, LPC-A (’15)

After graduation from UH with her B.S in Psychology in 2015, Nawshaba Zaman went to Sam Houston State University to complete her Master’s, earning her M.A in Clinical Mental Health in 2019. She has been working at the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD for over 2 years and this Friday she will become a fully licensed counselor.

Nawshaba wishes to share her story and emphasize the importance of therapists.

Bonnie Labdi (PharmD ’02)

UH alum Bonnie Labdi started a new position as the Clinical Director of Oncology at Agilum Healthcare Intelligence, an analytics company based out of Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Bonnie has 19 years of experience in clinical pharmacy practice, providing evidence-based care to oncology patients in a wide variety of healthcare settings. As a member of Agilum’s Clinical Solutions team, Bonnie utilizes her knowledge and experience in developing, promoting, and providing pharmacy and analytic consulting services to clients, who are then able to provide the highest level of care for their patients at the lowest possible cost.

Prior to joining Agilum, Bonnie maintained a clinical practice at Memorial Hermann Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. While at Hermann, she held an academic appointment as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School. Bonnie previously practiced at other healthcare facilities in the Houston area, including the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Bonnie has written several articles for peer-reviewed journals, authored textbook chapters, and presented research at national and international medical conferences. She is an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society of Hematology, and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, among others, and has held various leadership positions within these organizations.

Bonnie received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. She completed both her pharmacy practice residency and her specialty practice residency in hematology/oncology from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas. Bonnie is certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties in oncology and maintains her license to practice pharmacy in her home state of Texas.

Ms. Ieva Szentivanyi (M.A ’91)

For the past 22 years or so UH Alum Ieva Szentivanyi has been studying and transposing ancient Latvian poetry into English. This is significant as these poems have been identified by UNESCO as non material cultural treasure and thus worthy of being brought to the attention of more people as part of Western Civilization. Her first volume “Dainas, Wit and Wisdom of Ancient Latvian Poetry” was published in 2018 with 450 of these quatrains generously supported by her explanatory commentary. The second volume she anticipates to see shortly, and she is currently working on Volume 3.

According to Ieva, who earned her Masters degree in Applied English Linguistics from UH, “These poems contain the essence of an old and gentle culture in the words of the people of that day. They speak of all their experiences, including the misery of serfdom and wars, the joy of beauty, a festival, or a good harvest , and their trust in God. There is even a daina that coolly describes observing a UFQ! The ethics is higher than in the Commandments.”

This poetry had not been previously transposed into English because it was popularly accepted as impossible due to the differences in the structure of the two languages. There were only a few translations that retold the main point, without attention to rhythm, or syllable count or expressions of affection for all. Ieva’s goal is to transpose some 2000 dainas, a small fraction of the million plus, in hopes they will inform and amuse us and expand our appreciation of the wisdom of our ancestors.

Mr. Bill Hickl (’86)

Bill Hickl, Class of 1986 and a Partner with the Accounting Firm of BDO, was recently promoted to Office Managing Partner – Houston Tax. Bill has spent his entire 35 year career in Public Accounting since graduating from the University of Houston with a BBA in Accounting.

Sidnei McCarty (’11)

UH Alumnus Leads US’ First Online Casino

2011 UH Alumnus, Sidnei McCarty, is the first Branding and Communications Manager for
Evolution, America’s 1st live, online casino.
McCarty will develop and manage the marketing-recruitment strategy to brand the company and
to hire personnel across North America.
Evolution is the world’s largest developer and supplier of online casino games. Globally, the
Company operates 10 studios in 20 countries, employing 10,000 personnel. The players are
virtual, and the dealers are live and masked in the studio.
Launching its Southfield, Michigan studio in early May, the company is hiring 200 personnel in
the Detroit area, including Casino Dealers, Game Hosts, Recruiters, Studio Technicians,
Trainers, and Floor Supervisors.
Michigan legalized online gambling in early 2021. Online betting is legal in only 4 states:
Michigan, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and West Virginia.
In North America, Evolution broadcasts 24/7 in 4 studios situated in Atlantic City, New Jersey,
Southfield, Michigan, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Vancouver, Canada.

McCarty is the 1st and only African-American woman in a leadership role at
Evolution. McCarty is the Host/Producer of FlavaFull, a travel vegetarian
cooking show, and the entrepreneur/CEO of Sid Simone Staffing, which
she launched immediately after completing her BA in Broadcast
Journalism, and Certificate of Program for Excellence in Selling (PES) at
the University of Houston.

David Baluk (J.D. ’11)

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto,
Aziz & Stogner is proud to announce that David Baluk has joined the
firm as an Associate. David is dedicated to representing individuals
and family members who have been injured or killed as a result of
another’s negligence. His current legal practice focuses on a wide
range of personal injury matters, including catastrophic injuries,
workplace injuries, product liability, premises liability, wrongful
death, and 18-wheeler, commercial vehicle, and automobile
accidents. He is licensed to practice in Texas and is admitted to
practice in the United States District Courts for the Southern and
Eastern Districts of Texas and the United States Court of Appeals for
the 5th Circuit.
Prior to joining Abraham Watkins, David practiced at two prominent trial law firms in Houston, a

plaintiffs’ firm and a defense firm, where he litigated cases in over 23 states and obtained multi-
million dollar verdicts and favorable settlements on behalf of his clients. Throughout his legal

career, he has successfully litigated numerous automobile and trucking accidents,
pharmaceutical, premises liability, product liability, workplace injuries, toxic tort and chemical
exposure cases. He now applies this experience and the skillset he honed in courthouses
throughout the United States to his cases at Abraham Watkins.
Born and raised in New Jersey, David credits his blue-collar roots for his tireless work ethic. He is
a magna cum laude graduate of Washington and Lee University, where he graduated with a
degree in Economics and was inducted into Omicron Delta Epsilon, an International Economics
Honor Society. He later moved to Texas and attended the University of Houston Law Center,
serving on the board of the Houston Journal of International Law and earning the honor of Editor
of the Year. While attending law school, David was also a Law Clerk at Abraham Watkins, where
he received his first exposure to plaintiffs’ personal injury work.
David has been recognized on the Texas Rising Stars list since 2018. He is active in the legal
community as a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Houston Trial Lawyers
Association, Houston Bar Association, Houston Young Lawyers Association, and Texas Bar