For the first time, two female University of Houston-Victoria graduates will be recognized with the highest awards given to the university’s graduates each year.

Christine (Hafernick) Hollinden, principal and founder of Hollinden | marketers + strategists in Houston, was selected for the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Kristen (Lindley) Sayegh, a CPA and tax senior manager for Whitley Penn in Houston, will receive the 2021 Young Alumnus of the Year Award.

The alumnae will be recognized during the UHV Virtual Alumni Celebration from noon to 1 p.m. April 9 on Microsoft Teams. In addition to honoring Hollinden and Sayegh, there will be comments by UHV President Bob Glenn, a virtual tour of new UHV facilities, and interviews with faculty and staff members sharing university highlights. The event is part of UHV Homecoming week from April 5 to 10.

The Virtual Alumni Celebration also will include a live chat to allow attendees to engage with UHV Advancement staff and each other, and a UHV trivia game will give those who attend chances to win homecoming T-shirts and other UHV swag. Alumni and community members are encouraged to register and attend.

The virtual event is being hosted in lieu of the annual Alumni Banquet because of COVID-19 and campus restrictions, said Kira Mudd, UHV director of alumni relations and annual giving. The 2021 UHV Homecoming theme will be Jaguars Stay Home(coming). Events will be offered through virtual platforms, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, or through social media.

“Not having our in-person Alumni Banquet was disappointing for us all since it is the premier alumni event of the year,” Mudd said. “However, exploring this virtual format for the Alumni Celebration will allow us to bring the UHV campus to alumni and friends all around the world. UHV has experienced significant growth during the past six years, and there is so much for which our alumni can be proud. We are excited to host this event and honor our distinguished award recipients.”

The Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to a UHV graduate whose accomplishments, character and service are exceptional and represent the ideals and values of his or her alma mater. The Young Alumnus Award of the Year is presented to a UHV graduate who is younger than 40 and is distinctly accomplished professionally or in service to others.

In 1985, Christine Hollinden, a native of Lolita, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from UHV. The quality and affordability of education at UHV attracted Hollinden, and she was able to pay for most of her education through scholarships, a couple of jobs and a little help from her parents.

“Christine personifies all that UHV could hope to find in one of our alumni as a highly accomplished and respected entrepreneur and marketer,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. “In addition to being successful professionally, Christine has given generously of her time and talent to her alma mater by serving on the UHV Campaign Leadership Committee, helping lead the university’s strategic planning initiative and providing financial support to UHV Athletics.”

Hollinden found the professors at UHV to be dedicated to making sure students were well-equipped to succeed, she said. The small class sizes created an interactive experience where professors integrated real-world work experience with textbook lessons.

“That experience helped me gain confidence and encouraged me to find my voice,” Hollinden said. “I learned to speak up and speak out, and to seize opportunities and run with them because no one will run for you.”

In 1993, Hollinden founded Hollinden | marketers + strategists in Houston. She is an active member and supporter of several professional organizations, serves as a regular guest lecturer at universities, and is a frequent guest speaker at industry conferences for the American Institute of CPAs, Association for Accounting Marketing, Exit Planning Institute and the BDO Alliance, among others. Prior to starting her firm, she held marketing positions with KPMG, PwC and Grant Thornton. Hollinden was the UHV fall 2018 commencement speaker and has been the keynote speaker at other UHV events. Her firm has received multiple industry and community accolades, including numerous fastest-growing honors and a multitude of design and marketing awards.

She is active on both national and community levels, serving as a member of many committees and professional organizations, including the Board of Directors of the Texas Business Hall of Fame Foundation, Association for Accounting Marketing communications committee, Advisory Council for the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University and the Board of Directors for the Aggie Angel Network. She also is charge de press for Chaine des Rotisseurs-Houston, a global wine and food society. She is on the faculty of two national programs – the Certified Exit Planning Advisors and the Certified Value Growth Advisors.

“I am honored to be selected as the 2021 Distinguished Alumna,” Hollinden said. “My experience at UHV built the solid foundation upon which I built my career. I am so grateful for the education and opportunities offered by UHV. Now, being able to give back through both financial support and volunteerism brings everything full circle.”

Sayegh graduated in 2009 from UHV with a Bachelor of Business Administration and then in 2011 with a Master of Business Administration. She served on the UHV Student Government Association as the undergraduate representative for the UHV School of Business Administration and later as the association’s president. In 2009, she was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Perry to serve as the student regent on the UH System Board of Regents. In 2011, she received a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship to study abroad in Hong Kong.

“Being recognized as the Young Alumna of the Year is an honor, and I appreciate the recognition,” Sayegh said. “I feel grateful to the university for giving me this opportunity. My experiences definitely have positioned me for the better professionally, and I see the benefit of my time at UHV on a daily basis. I am better because of my time at UHV.”

Sayegh grew up in Spring and was on the first UHV softball team as a pitcher and designated hitter and served as co-captain for the team. She was a member of the 2009 team that won the NAIA Association of Independent Institutions softball championships and advanced to the national championships. She was named A.I.I. Player of the Year, was a member of the A.I.I. All-Star Team and was a First Team All-American.

She is a past president of the Rotary Club of Houston Skyline and is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Texas Society of CPAs and serves on Whitley Penn’s Innovation Council. Sayegh started at Whitley Penn in 2012 and has been a senior manager since July 2019.

“Kristen was an exceptional student-athlete and student leader at UHV, and she has continued on a track of accomplishment and service since graduating,” Pisors said. “We are so proud of Kristen and look forward to the great things ahead for her.”

For more information about the Virtual Alumni Celebration, contact Mudd at 361-570-4869 or muddke@uhv.edu. To register for the free event, visit uhvconnect.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1496420.

A link for the event will be sent to each participant after registration.

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