Phenomenal Women Honorees
Jaclyn Cañas-Carrell, Environmental Toxicology
Dr. Jaclyn Cañas-Carrell is passionate about mentoring which she values the most.
Her enthusiasm for fighting for and supporting underrepresented groups has remained
unwavering. It's incredible to see all she's accomplished over the years, and it's
impossible not to be inspired by her. She has one patent, over 43 peer-reviewed articles,
has three book chapters, and numerous distinguish awards. She co-founded the West
Texas Association for Women in Science Chapter at TTU and served as
chair on several committees. She has gone above and beyond for her students. She's an inspiration to all women and a great mentor.
Cristal P. Sanchez, Project Manager - Research and Innovation
Cristal is the definition of going above and beyond in all aspects of her life. Everything she does is full of intentionality and compassion towards others. In her role as chair of the Diversity Committee within Staff Senate, she regularly executes programming that promotes the diverse voices of the staff campus community, engages in conversations with campus stakeholders and provides a unique prospective to discussions about all topics regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Cristal serves as an advocate for those without a voice and inspires everyone around her. She is a phenomenal woman of Staff Senate and greater campus community.
Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of Dance
Genevieve Durham DeCesaro is a brilliant, creative, and dedicated service-leader who has consistently demonstrated an uncanny command of university policy and procedure to guide equitable faculty governance and decision-making in service to our students. She has an unquestionable dedication to ethical and transparent practices, combined with unrivaled courage to stand up for others who are underrepresented. Her understanding of policy in combination with global trends has ultimately resulted in TTU's new partnership with the South Plains College, the nation's first Bachelor of Applied Arts in Commercial Music degree. This is one example of her many contributions. She is indeed phenomenal.
Ashley Ross, Associate Director for Texas Success Initiative Developmental Education Program
Whether Ashley is brainstorming with students on how they can be successful in their developmental coursework, demonstrating to students the power of math while in the classroom, or collaborating with others to develop holistic approaches to TSI developmental coursework, she continually exhibits her vast knowledge of University resources and adaptability to the challenges faced in higher education today. Her passion for working with students and enthusiasm for TSI's purpose is patently clear, and it never ceases to inspire those of us privileged to work with her daily. Ashley is more than just our boss, she is a leader. The TSI staff is honored to know and work with her. Her ability to empower students and staff alike is what makes her a phenomenal woman at Texas Tech!
Dr. Magdalena Toda, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Dr. Toda cares deeply for her department, tirelessly working for the good of all her faculty, staff, and students. Dr. Toda works to create camaraderie among her department, organizing social events such as departmental walks to promote the health and well-being of the department. In addition to her duties as chair, professor, and advisor, Dr. Toda heads outreach events such as the annual Emmy Noether Day to promote women in mathematics. For all these reasons and many more not listed, Dr. Toda is a shining example of a phenomenal woman that Texas Tech is lucky to have.
Laci McDermett, Department of Biological Sciences
Laci recently became the Lead Academic Advisor for the Department of Biological Sciences. She joined the department at a time when there were no academic advisors due to recent turnover. In just a few short months, Laci has worked diligently to grow and develop an advising team of four academic advisors who serve the second largest major population in the College of Arts & Sciences. Because of Laci's leadership, students are being provided a thorough and comprehensive academic advising experience.
Ebere Nwachukwu, Accounting
Ebere currently serves as the External Vice President of the Student Government Association. Within her role, she advocates for the student body, ensuring the student voice is always heard. In her role, she began an initiative, lift while you climb, a mentorship program that pairs low income students from the Lubbock community to current students in hopes of encouraging them attend university. Ebere served as the vice chair of the budget & finance committee in which she helped oversee the six-figure funding and responsibility of every student organization on our texas tech university. She is an outgoing and driven individual who stays ahead of the game and carries a passion for service wherever she goes. She goes above and beyond the call for service, and and coming from a background different from the one she currently leads, in her diverse perspective has allowed the people around her to glean in better understanding of strong leadership and the passion that drives it.
Dr. Narissra M. Punyanunt-Carter, Communication Studies
Dr. Carter is one of the most accomplished women I've known in my time at TTU. She is an active researcher, teacher, advisor, and community member in our college and the university at large. Her work is forward-thinking and inclusive, and it really highlights ways that all people can benefit from optimal interpersonal communication. She is supportive, patient, and embodies the Red Raider motto of "From Here, It's Possible." It's a joy to know her and I know many (myself included) think she is worth celebrating!
Izabelle Stanford, Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures, ASL/English Interpretation
Izabelle is phenomenal at giving back to her fellow students and her community. She is the president of an ASL student organization and a powerful advocate of Deaf culture, she acts as a bold voice for both Transfer students and First-Gen students, she is on the Transfer Techsans leadership team and will be working as a Transfer Ambassador this summer, she spends hours as an ASL tutor serving other students in her program, she has been an ASL-interpreter for multiple community events, and her school spirit continually lifts up those around her on campus.
Christine Self, Parent and Family Relations
Christine is undoubtedly a Phenomenal Woman at Texas Tech not only for her impactful contributions to Texas Tech University Student Affairs, but also for her abilities as mentor to other young professionals and students that she works with. As a Program Director for Parent & Family Relations, Christine oversees events that bring Texas Tech families closer to the TTU community. Through conference presentations, working to co-author several books, and recently being named chair of several committees, Christine has impacted not only TTU families and student affairs staff, but many college campus communities nation-wide.
Rachel E. Riggs, Media and Communication
Rachel's work on sexual assaults in media, assault disclosure, and survivor vs. victim discourses is essential to making the world a safer, more just place. Her contributions benefit the CoMC, the university at large, and the broader communities of Lubbock and all places where dedicated advocates are needed. I am proud to know her and call her my colleague and friend, and hope that she knows how phenomenal she is!
Dr. Valerie Paton, Educational Psychology and Leadership (College of Education)
Dr. Paton encapsulates everything an inspirational leader should be. She doesn't shy away from asking tough questions and addressing any type of issues, injustices, and inequities. She stands up for what and whom she believes in with an empathy that is hard to find, especially within leadership. She matches her incredible strength with an equal amount of kindness and has provided me with the best female scholar role model I could have asked for. Texas Tech is lucky to have a professor like her among its ranks. She leads in everything she does and everything she is.
Pranathi Bingi, Rawls College of Business
Pranathi does everything she can to help her community because she truly wants to see her peers succeed alongside her. As a published researcher, MBA student, organization co-founder, and accepted medical student, her contributions to the Texas Tech community can be found all over campus. She is Social Media Officer of Tech Kahaani, a member of Tech Climbing Club, Chief Information Officer of the Rawls Graduate Association. She also helps advise the Texas Tech Chapter of Child Rights & You and mentors middle school students who are interested in STEM studies through Widening Horizons.
Samantha K. Smith, Dean's Office, College of Arts & Sciences
Samantha is the College Recruiter for A&S - the largest college at TTU. She recruits, travels year-round, attends every RRO, manages our A&S student Ambassadors, and much more. Most importantly - she is 100% passionate about TTU, and she does everything with boundless energy and a smile.
Janihya Gilmore, University Student Housing
As a fresh face in the Texas Tech community, Janihya Gilmore has done nothing short of astounding work. In her daily interactions with students, she is intentional in developing them into thoughtful, global citizens. While supervising her staff team she is an insightful leader, providing empathy and a welcoming space fostering growth. There are few people that embody what it means to be a phenomenal woman to the degree that Janihya does. She is brave in the face of adversity, caring with those that are struggling, and always willing to put her own needs aside for the betterment of others.
Dr. Britta Anderson, Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures
I would like to spotlight Dr. Britta Anderson's contribution to her students. Dr. Anderson is a professor committed to her students not only in the context of her courses, but also beyond the limits of the classroom. Bringing a vibrant energy and a smile on her face, she is always willing to help us maintain our well-being and explore and develop our potentials in professional and academic terms. As an international student, I can say that Professor Anderson was one of the first people to give me a helping hand to make my adjustment in Lubbock go smoothly.
Catherine Agarwal, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chemistry Major
Catherine Agarwal leads authentically, making a positive impact in the lives of every individual she meets. She currently serves as president of Widening Horizons, and she is dedicated to sharing her love of STEM with the Lubbock community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to adapt to changing policies and ensure local elementary and middle school students had access to fun STEM educational experiences. Also, among her many other leadership and educational enrichment roles, she serves as learning assistant and tutors students – a clear demonstration of her altruism and hope for her peers success.
Kayla Tindle, Office of Research & Innovation
The contributions Kay has made are limitless. I'll never forget day one on the job. I immediately had a seat at the table. I didn't have to jump through any hoops or validate my voice. I was an equal part of the team. Since then, I have seen her continue to encourage her team (and others) to see and shine in where and what they are most passionate about. She has contributed to the momentum of her team through encouragement, trust, and an expectation of showing up and getting the job done. She sets the bar high and knows you will rise to the occasion. She contributes to women in leadership, professional and personal growth, to the world of research and development. She is a trusted source to many and with that trust has emerged many other leaders.
Kaylee Sexton, Political Science
Kaylee Sexton's endless work towards ensuring equity and inclusion are being exemplified in her community can be seen through her efforts as the first student at Texas Tech to investigate the effectiveness of their diversity initiatives, her leadership as the President of ALD & PES Honor Societies, her representation for the women of Texas Tech in Student Intersectional Leadership Council, and her position as chairwoman for this year's Women's Herstory Month Planning Committee. Her ultimate career goal after obtaining her J.D. is to subject herself to the greatness of a cause, whether that be by serving on Capitol Hill or working for a non-profit organization. Even playing the smallest role in creating a more equitable, inclusive, and accepting world is a goal she holds in the utmost honor.
Dr. Erin Hamilton, Interior Design
Dr. Hamilton makes her classes accessible for all students. She intentionally engages in decolonizing the curriculum to point out and invite students into critical examinations of the history of design and the impact of design on marginalized communities (this includes aging populations, women, LGBTQIA, racial and ethnic communities and other marginalized identities and cultures). She is always available for her students and supports them outside the classroom with life and career issues, including beyond graduation. Dr. Hamilton goes above and beyond the normal expectations of a faculty member by focusing on inclusive excellence, reflecting on her teaching and preparing innovative ways to engage all students, making sure to reach even the students that may find themselves outside the cultural norms and expectations found here at Texas Tech University.
Evelyn Smith, College of Media & Communication
Evelyn smith currently serves as an intern under the External Vice President of TTU's student government association. Within her role, she serves on different committees each month, advocating for the betterment of the student body. Evelyn led and planned one of SGAs biggest events this semester - One light can speak change. An idea which she worked on and developed over the last few months to educate the Texas tech community on how one light can spark change. In addition to her service in SGA, Evelyn also serves as an intern for the residential hall association. Within her role, she works for the VP of leadership development and advocacy, assisting in complex council member developments. She worked and planned a workbook for LOC UP ( a conference for leaders in the organization). She exemplifies what it means to be a true leader daily and her actions always speak louder than her words. She reminds me to live every day to the fullest and is the true definition of a phenomenal woman at Texas tech.
Raquel Gonzales, Political Science
I am proud to nominate Raquel Gonzales as not only is she my mentor and friend but someone who is a great example of a educated latina empowering others. She volunteers a lot of her time with youth programs such as this past weekend with the Viva Aztlan program, Salvation Army, and YWCA programs.. She helped include many groups in our community such as Girl Scouts Troop 6073 to present colors at Viva Aztlan, and always encourages others to join in events. especially ones that are hosted or located on Texas Tech Campus. She definitely has Red Raider Spirit and is very outgoing. She is a great representation of a proud Texas Tech community member.
Alexandra Fletcher, Biology
Alex is always ready to step up to the plate. As the Social Media Officer of Widening Horizons and an undergraduate researcher in an organic chemistry lab, she shares her passion for science with both her peers and elementary students. She also has her own art business, and serves as the Social Media Officer of Tech Climbing Club, where she takes pictures and creates graphics. I admire how Alex can always find art in everything she does. I know she will continue to impact the Texas Tech Community through her contagious enthusiasm and unique perspective.
Mallory Prucha, School of Theatre and Dance, Head of Design
Mallory Prucha is the quintessential example of a phenomenal woman within our department. She illustrates all the attributes of being a phenomenal woman. Mallory serves as the Head of Design, as well as taking on additional tasks of running the costume shop to maintain a successful season of productions. She is thoughtful and provides many resources to her colleagues. She is an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion practices in our program. She also finds ways to give back to our community through her special skillset. I am inspired by her and grateful to call her my colleague and friend.
Kathryn Jensen, Accounting
Katie Rose currently serves as an intern for the external Vice President of the student government association. Within her role, she served on the MLK week planning committee and organized an event with women shelters for sexual assault awareness month to write notes of encouragement to all survivors. She also serves as a queer representative for SILC and is the director of facilities and sustainability for her complex serving on the CUTE (cleaning up the environment) committee where she taught members of her organization about fair trade, energy conservation and recycling. Katie rose walks into a room and has the ability to command it. She reminds me daily that I must only look the part but must act it as well. She is my definition of a phenomenal woman of Texas Tech.
Lindsay Boynton, TRIO SSS
Lindsay has single-handedly kept the TRIO SSS grant on the right track for the past 6 months. She is the embodiment of grace under fire, and faces adversity with grit and determination. She puts the needs of her students above her own and has sacrificed for her student population time and time again.
Lillian Agarwal, Psychology
No matter the project or setting, Lily's first objective is always to make sure everyone feels included and valued. As Vice President of Widening Horizons, she helps organize STEM programs for economically-disadvantaged children. She also serves the community alongside her fellow Tech Terry Scholars. When she is not volunteering, she is heading a study as an Honors Undergraduate Research Scholar in the Personality Assessment and Treatment Seeking (PATS) lab. She is also a member of Mortar Board, Golden Key, and an early acceptance medical school program. Her passion for learning and helping others makes her a phenomenal woman.
Dr. Faith Maina, Curriculum and Instruction
Dr. Faith Maina is a Phenomenal Woman. As a leader in the education field and a previous Fulbright Scholar, she has previously worked as a university administrator in teacher education. She also jointly successfully held the director role for the McNair post-baccalaureate program. Dr. Maina has an active research agenda with a record that speaks for itself, impacting us with publishings in both literature & bound forms. Presenting annually at AERA proceedings, she represents TTU well. Phenomenally, she has several qualities that contribute to her success. She is an excellent mentor employing skills of listening, empathy, persuasion, foresight, and project dedication.
Christianah Adejokun, Biochemistry & Chemistry
Christianah Adejokun truly embarks the definition of a Phenomenal woman! She is currently the President of the Black Student Association where she was able to host the first Big XII conference on Black Student Government last fall in Texas Tech's history. Adejokun also serves as an At-large Senator in the Student Government Association where she is also Chair of the Intergovernmental Committee. Adejokun is someone who loves to ensure positive change on campus is being made, which is why she serves on the Black Cultural Center Advisory Committee and the Hispanic Serving Institute Committee. Adejokun is also a distinguished TEDx Speaker, former Miss Lubbock Teen, and Top 16 Miss Texas USA finalist!
Claire Nevarez, Student Union & Activities
Claire is the perfect example of a leader championing those around her. She uplifts her students and staff while also serving the Lubbock community in various volunteer roles.
Kristen Cody, University Student Housing
Kristen Cody is the perfect embodiment of the Texas Tech community and phenomenal women. In her work, Kristen is well known for her endless empathy and genuine passion. She can't go more than a minute without making someone smile, and her intentionality with those around her is outstanding. She's an advocate for those who need their voices uplifted, often speaking out about issues facing her students and staff. Kristen is the definition of a servant leader, putting others' needs before her own and frequently taking on additional responsibilities to help them succeed. Kristen's sheer passion and performance goes beyond words.
Dina Lopez, English / Technical Communication and Rhetoric
As a doctoral student, Dina does incredible research on the history of her culture and community, bringing forth powerful conversations from the past to shine light on contemporary issues. In the classroom, Dina is a reflective and considerate instructor, always seeking to improve the quality of her teaching. Most importantly, as a person, Dina is kind, helpful, and inviting, always willing to provide a listening ear for a colleague in distress or lend her creative mind toward troubleshooting all manner of problems.
Kimberly Calvert-Gibson, School of Music
Kimberly works incredibly hard to make the students, staff, and faculty feel welcomed in the School of Music. In many ways she serves as a key pillar of contact for prospective and current students and their families. She creates a safe and welcoming environment where everyone is included as she facilitates student success, health, and wellness.
Lauren Gollahon, Department of Biological Sciences
Lauren is an outstanding department leader, mentor, colleague, and friend. In my first year as a faculty member she has provided endless encouragement, advice, and support. She regularly reaches out to check in on me, demonstrating her dedication and thoughtfulness as a mentor. She has listened to my concerns, and then worked hard to resolve issues I was facing. She has been more than just a supportive colleague and leader, but a friend who makes me feel welcome in Lubbock and this department. I am so grateful for her presence, support, leadership, and friendship.
Christina Montecillo, Financial Aid
Christy has been a major help to do many students at Tech. She has aided not only through finances but also has played a role in being a contact for students who may need help in other aspects of their lives. She is an inspiration and a phenomenal woman.
Jenn Burns, Department of Biological Sciences
Jenn is an exemplary leader, woman in science, and role model. Even though she faces a mountain of responsibilities and tasks as chair of the department, she always makes time to talk to me, hear my concerns, and works hard to help me resolve any issues. One time I emailed her about some barriers I was facing, and the next morning she already had both short- and long-term plans to resolve them in place, and both have worked successfully. I am so grateful to have her as a role model to look up to.
Sierra Mello-Miles, Military and Veterans Programs
Sierra possesses the qualities that one hopes all leaders possess. She is fearless in the face of adversity, while always showing compassion to her employees and customers. It may be cliche, but if you could ever say Sierra had a flaw it would be that she cares too much for our veteran and dependent population.
Lucinda Holt, Journalism and Mass Communication
Lucinda Holt is not only a great educator, but she is also dedicated to her leadership
duties with HIHIC, she mentors and leads a team of five teaching assistants,
free-lance writes for the New York Times, and still makes time for her family. I aspire to be like her one day.
Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
AddressDoak Hall, Office 101, P.O. Box 45065 Lubbock, Texas, 79409-5024