CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Eight Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi employees were recognized by Corpus Christi Under 40 (CCU40) for contributions in their professional fields and through service in the community during the Mayor’s Breakfast held on Jan. 27 at the Solomon P. Ortiz International Center.
The following Texas A&M-Corpus Christi employees were honored:
Claudia Ayala, Assistant Director at the University Counseling Center — Ayala is a well-known face at St. Patrick Church and school, where her children attend class. She is actively involved in many areas of the church including being the current President of the School Advisory Committee. Ayala, Assistant Director at the University Counseling Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is a licensed professional counselor and supervisor and a licensed chemical dependency counselor. She has been with the University for nine years and her work includes counseling students, supervising administrative support staff, and chairing the Islanders Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team.
Beth Wilson Becerra, Public Affairs Manager — Becerra’s volunteer motto is “keep it clean and green.” The Public Affairs Manager at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is a member of the Clean City Committee where she advises on issues related to litter and recycling. She is also a founding member of GROW Local South Texas that aims to increase access to fresh produce through a Learning Garden and the Downtown Farmers’ Market. In her professional life, Becerra enjoys sharing the stories of the Island University throughout the community, region, state, and nation. She coordinates with the University’s media partners, communications staff, researchers, faculty, and University leadership to spread the word about the successes and achievements of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s five colleges and two research institutions.
Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Development — Jacobs not only gives of herself to the community, her talent lies in getting others to give also. She is currently the Executive Director of Development at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She oversees and fosters annual giving and major gifts from alumni, faculty and staff, friends of the University, and the community at large. Before joining A&M-Corpus Christi, she was the Executive Director of the Corpus Christi Heart Association. Jacobs has been an avid volunteer in the community. She is a current member of the Junior League of Corpus Christi where she has held many positions. She has also been the Co-President of the Congregation Beth Israel Sisterhood, Auction Logistics Chair for Cattle Barons, and is currently a member of the Clowns Who Care, volunteering monthly at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Michelle Maresh-Fuehrer, Assistant Professor of Communication — Maresh-Fuehrer, who is passionate about crisis prevention and public safety, is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She is also an award-winning teacher who has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in crisis communication, public relations, research methods, and instructional communication. Maresh-Fuehrer recently authored a book on crisis communication titled, “Creating Organizational Crisis Plans,” along with three book chapters and a journal article. She is in the process of co-authoring a public relations book. She frequently conducts crisis communication consulting sessions with area businesses and treats her classroom as a consulting firm.
Bridget Markwood, Adjunct Faculty Member and CEO of Leader N U — Markwood is dedicated to making the world a better place for her community’s young people. She is the CEO of Leader N U, a consulting organization specializing in communication, leadership, and character development for youth, young adults, and professionals. Markwood is also an Adjunct Faculty Member at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in the Communication and Media Arts Department. In 2014, she published her first book, “Rock Ur World: A Life and Leadership Handbook for College-Bound Students” and is the creator of numerous leadership games and activities. Markwood is also the drama coordinator at Grace Presbyterian Church, where she is working on multiple projects for homeless children and teens.
Dr. Mark Olson, Synthetic Organic Chemist and Assistant Professor of Chemistry — Olson comes from a family of Corpus Christi educators and makes it his mission to spread the message of continuing education everywhere he goes. As a Synthetic Organic Chemist and an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, he teaches organic chemistry and molecular spectroscopy, and has established a synthetic materials research laboratory that focuses on developing molecular nanotechnology. He was most recently awarded the designation of 1000 Talent Foreign Expert by the Chinese government and has accepted an offer of full professorship at Tianjin University beginning in the fall of 2015 where he will be a member of the School of Pharmaceutical Science and Technology’s Institute for Molecular Design.
Anthony Reisinger, a Ph.D. Student and Graduate Research Assistant and Vice President of Youga Yoga — Reisinger is dedicated to the health and wellness of the environment and his fellow mankind. He serves as the Vice President of Youga Yoga, a donation-based outreach center where yoga and wellness is taught to community. He is currently a Ph.D. student and graduate research assistant working at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Reisinger’s research is focused on understanding the sediment dynamics of Texas estuaries using satellites, field measurements, and modeling.
Dr. Rita Sperry, Professional Assistant Professor — Sperry has a passion for writing and is committed to student excellence. As a Professional Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, she coordinates the first-year seminar course as part of the nationally recognized First-Year Learning Communities Program, which serves 2,000 incoming college students each year. In addition, Sperry also teaches introductory programming and technical writing classes for the Computer Science department. She is an active member of the planning committees for the National Learning Communities Consortium and the Texas Learning Communities Consortium. Sperry is also a longstanding parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Chapel at NAS Corpus Christi and has volunteered as a choir member and catechism teacher for over a decade and has served on the planning committee for Vacation Bible School.
To see the full list of honorees, go to http://www.ccu40.org/.