Jeffery Di Leo

Jeffery Di Leo

As University of Houston-Victoria student Aarushi Kumar was preparing for her graduation and a visit from her mother and brother who live in India, she was surprised and overjoyed to learn that in addition to receiving her degree, she would receive another honor.

Kumar, an international student from Bangalore, India, was named the Spring 2019 Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the UHV School of Arts and Sciences. Frank Jalufka, of Yoakum, was named the school’s Outstanding Graduate Student.

Each semester, professors from UHV’s three schools select outstanding graduates to be honored during commencement.

“Aarushi and Frank have shown an inspiring commitment to excellence in their studies,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the school. “They each have exciting aspirations to continue their education, and I wish them the best as they set out to make their goals reality.”

Kumar transferred to UHV in spring 2017 from an Australian university and on May 18 will receive her Bachelor of Science in biology. During her time at UHV, she was part of the Honors Program and had the opportunity to conduct research and present her findings. In April, she participated in the Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin.

“Joining the Honors Program really pushed me to continue researching,” Kumar said. “Going to the Capitol was a great opportunity to see what kinds of research other schools are doing and how ours measured up to statewide projects. It was an inspiring experience.”

Research is something that interests Jalufka, as well. The Yoakum High School chemistry teacher will receive his Master of Science in biomedical sciences and is planning to enroll in a doctoral program in biology next semester at Texas A&M University, where he previously earned his bachelor’s degree.

“My dream job is to become a college professor at a research university,” he said. “I have loved teaching at the high school level, but I missed the opportunity to work in a lab. In an academic setting, I would be able to satisfy both of my passions.”

Jalufka enrolled in UHV’s program because the proximity of the university to his hometown, and the flexible class schedule allowed him to earn his degree while he was teaching full time. Now, as he prepares to graduate and begin attending classes in College Station, he is grateful for the words of wisdom and support from his professors.

“I would like to thank my thesis adviser, Hashimul Ehsan, and Gen Kaneko for teaching me and helping me throughout my experience with my thesis project, as well as Daniel White for pushing me to be the best I could when I didn’t especially believe in myself,” he said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been accepted into the doctoral program at Texas A&M.”

Once she graduates, Kumar plans to take a gap year to work on her graduate school applications and find a job as a research assistant in the Houston area.

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