UHCL The Signal
The official student newspaper of the University of Houston-Clear Lake

The Signal’s 10 most fascinating people of UHCL of 2017


Based on recommendations by the UHCL community, The Signal has compiled a list of the 10 most fascinating people of UHCL of 2017. The selections were based on various reasons including the honoree’s impact on the UHCL community, notable achievements and overall inspirational quality.

Current UHCL Students

With a campus of more than 8,000 enrolled, UHCL has a vast pool of noteworthy and inspiring students. The two selected in this category have contributed this year to the UHCL community through their leadership skills and dedication to improving student experiences.

Raj Vadhi, computer science major

PHOTO: Raj Vadhi, computer science major. Photo courtesy of Raj Vadhi.
Raj Vadhi, computer science major. Photo courtesy of Raj Vadhi.

As the President of the Indian Student Association (ISA), Co-President of the Cricket Student Association and Student Ambassador for UHCL’s Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Raj Vadhi has taken on leadership roles to enhance the overall student experience. In addition, during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Vadhi led relief efforts by ISA, many of whom were new students, through social media and contributed to helping those in need. Furthermore, Vadhi has contributed to the growth of the Cricket Student Association and ISA by hosting tournaments and events.

I first met Raj when I heard about the work the Indian Student Association did during Hurricane Harvey. He is involved with many events and activities on campus including the Cricket Assocation and the Office of Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He actively tries to get students to embrace diversity on campus and come together as a whole.

– Liz Davis, editor-in-chief

Justin Murphy, communication major

PHOTO: Justin Murphy, communication major. Photo courtesy of UHCL Student Government Association.
Justin Murphy, communication major. Photo courtesy of UHCL Student Government Association.

In May, the UHCL student body elected the 2017-2018 executive council for the Student Government Association (SGA) which included Justin Murphy, communication major and literature minor, as president. Following the election, Murphy continued forward with advancements made by the previous administration while also incorporating his own vision. Murphy also has contributed to the UHCL community through active participation as an orientation leader, peer mentor for the first year seminar, and member of the UHCL Music Club and the UHCL Volleyball Club.

As SGA President, Justin has continued the progress needed to ensure every UHCL student’s voice is heard. He has contributed to the UHCL community and is actively involved with various aspects of student life, which is a necessary part of being the leading voice of the student body.

– Brandon Peña, managing editor


Since it opened in 1974, UHCL has awarded more than 60,000 degrees to those seeking a higher education. Thousands of alumni who call the institution their alma mater, have contributed to not only the UHCL community but also to the advancement of their own potential.

Donna Miles, UHCL alumnae

PHOTO: Donna Miles, UHCL alumna. Photo courtesy of Agape Christian Preschool.
Donna Miles, UHCL alumnae. Photo courtesy of Agape Christian Preschool.

The Agape Christian Preschool opened in Pasadena, Texas in 1992 with Donna Miles becoming the school’s director in 1994. After having earned her Child Development Associate credential in 1993, an Associates of Applied Science in Child Development in 2006 and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from UHCL in 2010, Miles went on to obtain her Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from UHCL. Even with personal disadvantages, Miles continued to expand her knowledge of her career field in order to contribute to the early education of the next generation of students.

[Donna] went back to school in her ’60s with a hearing disability but nonetheless received her masters of science in early childhood education, using it to advance her childcare center, Agape Christian Preschool, in a way that applied modern ECE to her 21 years of experience as director of the institution.

– Miles Shellshear

AJ Johnson, UHCL alumnus

PHOTO: AJ Johnson, President of SGA. Photo by The Signal Reporter EJ Santillan
AJ Johnson, former president of SGA. Photo by The Signal Reporter EJ Santillan

After taking office as UHCL’s SGA President in May 2016, AJ Johnson had a strong vision for the future of the association. With his leadership ability and dedication to improving UHCL, Johnson fought for the right of every student to have a say in the election of the SGA executive council. Furthermore, before leaving office in May, Johnson worked to get the SGA Senate established, which will continue the progress needed to provide the entire student body fair representation. Johnson graduated from the university in December with his Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

Over the last year, AJ has contributed significantly to the UHCL community, but specifically to the student body. As SGA President, AJ fought for the rights of students and set an example of how future SGA executive council members should.

– Brandon Peña, managing editor

Administrator, Faculty and Staff

Spanning 524-acres, multiple buildings and four colleges, UHCL has a wide array of leaders and educators. With no shortage of administrators, faculty and staff with notable achievements to select from, the two selected in this category represent a glimpse of the role models working on campus.

Sara Costello, assistant professor of art history

PHOTO: Sarah Costello wins 2018 nomination to represent UHCL for Piper Award Competition. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor Sarah Costello.
Sarah Costello, assistant professor of art history. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor Costello.

Since 2014, Sarah Costello has been teaching students the history of art as an assistant professor at UHCL. This year, Costello earned the Piper Award nomination to represent the university at a state-wide competition for innovative professors. Through her courses at UHCL and instruction at the Ramsey Unit, Costello has impacted students through her teaching style. With her research focused on the early periods of the Ancient Near East, Costello has organized study programs with the University of Edinburgh to allow students the opportunity to assist her in Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean.

Her background in anthropology and archaeology bring a unique and human perspective and style to the Art History and Ideas in Transition classes she teaches. I also like her enthusiasm, choice in case studies and that she honestly cares about her students. This was apparent two semesters ago when I first met her but was shown even more after Harvey.

– Alyssa Shotwell, online editor

Robert Bartsch, professor of psychology and director for Center for Faculty Development

PHOTO: Robert Bartsch, professor of psychology and program director for the Center for Faculty Development. Photo courtesy of UHCL.
Robert Bartsch, professor of psychology and program director for the Center for Faculty Development. Photo courtesy of UHCL.

Robert Bartsch began his career at UHCL in 2001 as an assistant professor of psychology and was promoted to professor in 2014. By having a strong rapport with students and a dedication to improving instructional qualities of fellow faculty, Bartsch continues to encourage expanding education. Aside from being a professor of psychology and engaging with the UHCL community, Bartsch is the director for the newly opened Center for Faculty Development which provides faculty with resources to further their research and teaching skills.

The funny/creative ties that Dr. Bartsch wears every day is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to describing this educator/admin. Not only is Dr. Bartsch a highly-rated and popular teacher with students in his psychology and first-year seminar classes, he is the new Director of the Center for Faculty Development at UHCL. The center just opened a year ago and he works tirelessly to create programming to help UHCL faculty with teaching, research, work-life balance, and more. He is married to another faculty member, the College of Education’s Carol Carman. These two are one of the smartest and cutest couples I’ve ever met! They have a four-year-old son, Thomas, together. They both participate/coach a student gaming club which meets on Fridays at UHCL, and have been known to bring their son up to the school to hang out while everyone plays during the meetings! Dr. Bartsch has served on faculty senate, as well, and still participates to this day, although he is ex-officio. He is also a runner/jogger. There is a hilarious photo of him dressed in a high-quality gorilla costume running a marathon/fun run. The photo is in his office. He also has a photo of his DNA in his office from a science camp he attended once when he was growing up in Lubbock. He has introduced me, and others, to some pretty quirky music/bands, too (i.e. ‘Trout Fishing in America’). His degree is in social psychology…and he has to be the most patient and supportive person in higher education I have ever met!

– Cherie Devine

Student Organization

Over the course of the last couple of years, student life on campus has grown tremendously. With more than 90 student organizations officially recognized on campus, UHCL has seen the rise of leadership and ingenuity.

Indian Student Association

PHOTO: UHCL Indian Student Association logo. Photo courtesy of the Indian Student Association.
UHCL Indian Student Association logo. Photo courtesy of the Indian Student Association.

As a campus with a diverse student body, UHCL has become a place to not only achieve higher education but to develop friendships and celebrate cultures. The Indian Student Association (ISA) provides Indian students studying abroad to remain connected their heritage while educating non-Indian students on the culture. During Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, ISA stepped to the forefront as leaders by helping those in need. By hosting cultural programs and events such as Holi, Diwali and fresher’s parties, ISA stands out as an example for all student organizations.

The ISA represents a large student group on-campus and their focus this year on both campus activities and the community welfare has been special and commendable.

– Raj Vadhi

UHCL eSports

PHOTO: UHCL eSports logo. Photo courtesy of UHCL eSports.
UHCL eSports logo. Photo courtesy of UHCL eSports.

Although UHCL does not have a recognized intercollegiate sports team, one student organization is quickly gearing up to change that fact. Dedicated to gaming, UHCL eSports is one of the largest student organizations on campus with gamers participating in tournaments both on and off campus. UHCL eSports has opened up minds to the idea of what an intercollegiate sport is and can be. In addition, the group hosts various events to further engage the UHCL community, build friendships and achieve recognition from beyond campus.

Since it’s founding two years ago, UHCL E-sports has grown quite quickly. It has done some general meetings where members get together to play video games, hosted tournaments on campus and at the Microsoft store in Baybrook Mall, and participated in the viewing party at Rice University for the League of Legends World Finals 2017.

– Bao Ly

UHCL Office or Department

Every office and department at UHCL contributes to the overall experience of attending the four-year university. The two selected in this category have expanded upon the services and entertainment they provide in order to better serve the growing UHCL community.

Counseling Services – Dogtor Murphy

PHOTO: Dogtor Murphy of UHCL Counseling Services. Photo courtesy of UHCL Office of University Communications.
Dogtor Murphy of UHCL Counseling Services. Photo courtesy of UHCL Office of University Communications.

The newest addition to the UHCL Counseling Services team is none other than Dogtor Murphy. While Counseling Services provides the UHCL community with individual and group therapy, biofeedback and other resources, the office recently acquired pet therapy. Joining the team following Hurricane Harvey, Murphy has quickly become a fixture on campus by providing comfort to students, faculty and staff. By coordinating with the Office of Veteran Services, the Neumann Library and other offices on campus, the Counseling Services team has been able to extend their resources to better aid the community.

They offer a lot of services, including Dogtor Murphy, biotherapy, and a massage chair.

– Bao Ly

Bayou Theater

New University of Houston-Clear Lake Bayou Theater Managing Director Alex Malone is passionate about creating engaging experiences. An arts enthusiast since childhood, Malone says live performance offers connections between audiences and artists that are unmatched in other types of entertainment. Photo by George Mattingly II
Bayou Theater Managing Director Alex Malone. Photo courtesy of George Mattingly II.

For the last 40 years, the UHCL Bayou Theater has been a venue providing the university and local performers an opportunity to entertain. However, in recent years the theater was underutilized and provided limited options for entertainment. That is until Alex Malone stepped into the position of manager of the Bayou Theater. In the last year alone the venue has seen a wide array of performances from both local and nationally known acts. From hip-hop and country artists to plays and symphonies, the theater now offers something for everyone.

Since Alex Malone became the manager of the Bayou Theater, he has brought so many new artists to campus that improve our presence of theatre at UHCL. I hope he continues to seek out new artists, and we can expand the theater to have more student work and more shows on campus.

– Liz Davis, editor-in-chief

Honorable Mention

Following a week-long nomination process, many noteworthy people were recommended by members of the UHCL community. These honorable mentions of UHCL highlight some of the leadership, entertainment, dedication and inspirational qualities within the university.

Brittany Hiett, psychology graduate student

Brittany conducts research at a local high school that serves at-risk Latino high school students. As my lab manager, she leads a team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants and manages a database of 1300+ high school student demographic data. She has presented her research at multiple conferences at the local and national level. She is a wonderful advocate for social justice, in particular racial, gender, social class and disability. Aside from her sharp intellect and leadership skills, what is most striking about Brittany is that in spite of being a disabled woman who has been in a wheelchair her entire life, she has identified her privilege as a white, cisgender, middle class woman. She uses her gifts and talents along with her privilege to do social justice research. Her goals are to contribute to the larger movement of informing an educational system that is sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable students. She is active on the UHCL campuses as well, serving as an officer in the Psi Chi club, which is the national honor’s society for the field of psychology.

– Desdamona Rios

Cardigan Guy (Kimble)

I was walking with my friend Alexia one day when I saw a young man walking down the hallway toward us. He was wearing a navy blue cardigan, hipster style glasses, and carrying a cross-body messenger bag. I complimented his cardigan but he didn’t hear me, so I pressed further, complimenting next his book bag, then his glasses. Still, he took no notice. Wanting to get his attention and express my admiration of his fashion sense I called out as he passed “I like basically everything about you!” Finally, he heard me. Looking up, he smiled an acknowledgment and continued on his way.
A few weeks later I was talking to another friend of mine when I had a premonition. I looked over my shoulder and, sure enough, there was Cardigan Guy climbing the open stairs in the second atrium, sporting his distinct navy blue cardigan and messenger bag. Excited (and not thinking) I called out “Cardigan Guy!” Pausing in his ascent, he looked down at me and, looking a bit startled, waved. “Hello! How are you?” Delighted, I had a short conversation with him and again complimented his put-together appearance. He thanked me and continued on his way. Needless to say, the friend I was with was confused by this interaction so I explained to her the running duology of Cardigan Guy. So the story began to gain a following.
On Thursday, November 30th, I was sitting at the Snowflake Table in the plant atrium with two old and a new friend. One of my older friends referenced Cardigan Guy in a conversation and my new friend was confused, so I began to retell the legend of Cardigan Guy. As I was concluding my story, once more my sixth sense was triggered. Gazing out across the atrium, I saw a familiar looking young man walking down the hallway towards our table. At first, the lack of cardigan made me think that perhaps I was mistaken, but then I caught sight of the navy blue fabric draped over his left arm. We made eye contact (I think an expression of fear may have crossed his face). Having no sense of shame or public decency I called out across the busy atrium “Cardigan Guy!” The three other girls at my table whipped around, straining to catch a glimpse of this legendary figure. Perhaps being unused to such fame, Cardigan Guy smiled and offered a shy wave before continuing towards his unknown destination. Too intrigued by this man of mystery to let him exist under a pseudonym for the rest of my days, I turned just as he was about to disappear behind the elevators and asked (loudly) “What’s your name?” Looking hesitant and wary of our gaggle of nosy young women, he paused and stared for moment, considering. Then, with a seemingly great effort, he turned round and walked towards us. One of my friends said excitedly “she was just talking about you!” Seeming to have no good response for this, he extended his hand; “I’m Kimble.” We all introduced ourselves and thanked him for his time, and with another uncertain smile, he returned to his journey.
Since then, the thrilling (and hopefully unfinished) trilogy of Cardigan Guy (aka Kimble) has been bringing joy and laughter to all who hear and tell it, especially to myself. I go through each day with the hope of meeting my stylish friend again and (hopefully) brightening his day with another strange interaction. I’m so grateful to this random stranger for making the days of exams and finals a little sunnier for my friend and I with his fantastic fashion sense. Thank you, Cardigan Guy, for being well renowned figure with a very select group of students at UHCL. We love you!

– Jesha Roady

Anton Dubrovskiy, assistant professor of chemistry

His kindness, patience, enthusiasm, passion, work ethic, motivation and more. He cares about students and their success like it was his own. No one I know puts in as much work as he does (and that’s saying a lot, because most of UHCL’s professors put in a lot of work)! He’s amazing!

– Sandy Samaan

Turning Point USA

The addition of Turning Point USA’s UHCL chapter to campus really brings more perspectives to the university. It gives students more opportunities to voice their opinions instead of staying silent for fear of being different.

– Liz Davis, editor-in-chief

Campus Recreation

Since Brain [Mills]’ occupancy of the director of Campus Recreation and Wellness position here at UHCL, Brain has been pushing hard for student and faculty support with the new department/building. From a students perspective, Brain has quickly turned campus recreation into a big deal. Students have been hearing the buzz of the new building, what it has to offer, and can’t wait.

– David Perez

Also published on Medium.