Successes Shared at Diversity Awards Gala

Faculty, Student and Staff Honored for Furthering University Goals

May 31, 2011

From the time he was a 10th-grader, Gustavo Martinez knew he wanted to attend The University of Texas at Dallas, but tuition was an obstacle.

“As my high school graduation approached, I began to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to afford college without help,” he said.

Martinez began to apply for scholarships early in his senior year, and his efforts paid off in August 2010, when scholarship coordinators called to tell him he’d been awarded the Diversity Scholarship from the UT Dallas Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. Tuition for his entire freshman year had been covered.

Diversity Awards Gala

Dr. J. Michael Farmer (center) celebrates receiving the Teaching Award for Inclusive Excellence with Dr. Magaly Spector, vice president for diversity and community engagement; and Dr. Peter K.J. Park, chair of the Committee for Support of Diversity and Equity.

“That was the most exciting week of my life,” Martinez said. “I felt my mind – and my whole world – clear when I found out that I had money to pay for tuition.” 

Martinez, now a freshman studying business administration, has completed two semesters at UT Dallas. Although he won awards from several sources, the one that made the most impact on him was the Diversity Scholarship, Martinez says.

 “The Diversity Scholarship moves me closer and closer to accomplishing one of my biggest dreams – to be the first college graduate in my family,” he said.

Martinez and other Diversity Scholarship recipients shared their experiences with the crowd assembled at the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Diversity Awards and Scholarship Fundraiser last month in the Student Union.

All recipients are supported by advisors who meet with them on a regular basis to discuss issues and academic progress. The students also meet as a group, forming a bond to ease the inevitable ups and downs of college life.

“I just feel at home,” Martinez said of the time spent with fellow awardees.

The UT Dallas program isn’t the only one offering diversity scholarships to UT Dallas students.

UT Dallas doctoral student Muge Acik  has been able to do big things in the name of tiny science, thanks to the support of technology giant Texas Instruments. Acik, who is pursuing a PhD in materials science and engineering, is the Texas Instruments’ 2009-10 TI-CMOS Diversity Fellowship recipient. (CMOS, which stands for complementary metal-oxide semiconductor, is today’s dominant semiconductor technology used by Intel, Texas Instruments and many others.) Her fellowship has covered her tuition, lab fees, conference registration and more.

“With the support of this fellowship, I was able to broaden the research on graphene to several fields,” Acik said. “Not only did I have the chance to have funding for the continuation of my PhD education at UT Dallas with the full support of Texas Instruments and my advisor Dr. Yves Chabal, I also was able to strengthen my networking, personal communication and interviewing skills.”

Recipients of the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Diversity Awards also were celebrated at the event. Categories and honorees included:

  • Community Diversity Champion: Terry Howard, director of diversity and inclusion, Texas Instruments.
  • Faculty Diversity: Dr. Fatemeh Hassanipour, assistant professor, School of Engineering and Computer Science.
  • Teaching Award for Inclusive Excellence: Dr. J. Michael Farmer, associate professor, School of Arts and Humanities.
  • Staff Diversity: Dr. Ellen Greenwald, staff psychologist and diversity coordinator, Student Counseling Center.
  • Student Diversity: Jessica Tsing, senior with a double major in accounting and finance, School of Management. The student award was accompanied by a $1,000 University scholarship.

Electrical engineering professor Gil Lee and his wife Jung also were recognized at the awards ceremony for their work teaching math to underprivileged children in South Dallas, Garland and East Plano. The Lees’ nonprofit, IntelliChoice Inc., relies on volunteers from UT Dallas, local companies and area high schools to offer services.

“Talent comes in all colors, genders and sizes,” said Terry Howard, director of diversity and inclusion at Texas Instruments. “It is critically important for companies like Texas Instruments to have fully engaged workforces that mirror the global marketplace.

“Diversity is no longer a nice thing to have. It’s a business imperative.”

Gala sponsors included Chartwells Catering, Dr. Yves Chabal, Dr. and Mrs.  David Daniel, Lennox International, The Compass Group and numerous University departments. Proceeds from the gala will support scholarships to help retain and graduate diverse students with critical financial needs who have performed well while enrolled at UT Dallas. This support includes women who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“The night was an extraordinary celebration of UT Dallas’ accomplishments toward a more diverse and inclusive campus,” said Dr. Magaly Spector, vice president for diversity and community engagement. “It gave our community and institutional partners a chance to hear firsthand from our scholarship recipients about how financial assistance has enabled them to access and succeed in higher education.”

For more information on giving to Diversity Scholarships, call 972-883-4566.


Media Contact: Karah Hosek, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5890, karah.hosek@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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Dr. Fatemeh Hassinpour

Dr. Fatemeh Hassanipour

Engineering Professor Honored
for Mentoring Female Students

Mechanical engineering student Molly McGregor has found a blueprint for success in her intended field: Dr. Fatemeh Hassanipour. She so values Dr. Hassanipour’s mentorship that she recommended her for the 2011 Faculty Diversity award.

“I will hopefully be pursuing my doctoral degree under Dr. Hassanipour’s guidance,” McGregor said in a recommendation letter. “I can only hope to be as successful as she is.”

McGregor first encountered Hassanipour as a sophomore, when she took the assistant professor’s thermodynamics course.

“She taught thermodynamics in a manner that was extremely easy to understand and enjoy,” recalled McGregor.

After the conclusion of the course, McGregor sought out Hassanipour and “practically begged” to work in her thermo-fluids research lab. Hassanipour assented, guiding McGregor as she conducted research on heat transfer characteristics of microencapsulated PCM slurry through a porous material.  The paper she produced on the topic won an undergraduate research award in fall 2010.

“I consider Dr. Hassanipour a role model because I saw what a difference she made in my college career,” McGregor said. “I would love to follow in her footsteps and be an inspirational figure for future students.”

Dr. Mario Rotea, department head of the mechanical engineering program, nominated Hassanipour, citing the positive, long-term impact of her work – inside and outside the classroom.

“Research shows that women sometimes do not stay in engineering fields in part due to feelings of isolation, lack of self-confidence and mentoring opportunities, and an inadequate opportunity for interaction with one another,” Rotea said. “Even though Dr. Hassanipour has been with us for only two years, she is currently mentoring four female students in her lab. As a result of her efforts, the UT Dallas mechanical engineering department is cultivating a welcoming reputation for aspiring female scientists and engineers.”

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