WT Woman, Man of the Year Celebrated Among Other Outstanding Students, Staff

Chip Chandler Apr 24, 2023
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WT Woman, Man of the Year Celebrated Among Other Outstanding Students, Staff

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — Two prominent student leaders were named West Texas A&M University’s Woman and Man of the Year during the annual All-University Honors Ceremony.

Annie Valicek, a junior agribusiness and economics major from Houston, and Tucker Gattis, a graduate public administration student from Pottsboro, were given the respective honors during the April 21 ceremony, held by the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center.

Valicek currently serves as student body president, and Gattis is chief justice of the Student Government Association.

“President Valicek and Chief Justice Gattis are two of the most impressive student leaders I have ever had the privilege with which to work,” said Dr. Chris Thomas, vice president for student affairs. “Their intellectual acumen coupled with their commitment to serving the WT student body are unparalleled. For all of our outstanding student leaders honored today, I am grateful for their work and proud of who they have become during their time at WT. These students represent the very best of the WT spirit.”

Anna Estrada, a senior healthcare administration major from Borger, and Abby Kate Hays, a senior sports and exercise science major from Boyd, also were finalists for Woman of the Year. Caleb Frick, a junior agricultural media and communication major from Amarillo, also was a finalist for Man of the Year.

The ceremony also included several other student, faculty and staff awards.

Valicek also won the Chancellor’s Century Council Award, earning a $1,000 scholarship to support leadership development opportunities related to the future of Texas higher education, rural community development and/or Texas public policy.

Two winners of the Presidential Order of the Silver Buffalo Award, presented to individuals and groups who have brought national or international recognition to WT, were announced.

Allan Baltazar, a senior criminal justice major from Houston and the 2021-22 WT Man of the Year, was recognized for winning second place in a McNair Scholars competition, for his dedication to the F1RSTGEN program at WT and his membership in several student organizations. He also is part of the third Hispanic Leadership Academy cohort in the Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences.

The WT Horse Judging Team also earned a Silver Buffalo for achieving the most successful record of any collegiate judging team in 2022 competitions, winning the American Quarter Horse Association world championship and other titles.

Outstanding student organization president is Starla Lawhon, a senior wildlife biology major from Georgetown, and president of the Residence Hall Association.

Finalists also included Hays, president of Students Assisting in Good Endeavors, and Juan Aguinaga, a sophomore marketing major from Plains, president of Hispanic Student Association.

Outstanding student organization is the African Student Organization, which aims to educate the community about and fight misconceptions of Africa.

Finalists included the Agronomy Club and Student Government Association.

Outstanding student organization adviser is Sabrina Pugh, SAGE adviser. Finalists were Dane Glenn of KWTS The One 91.1 FM and Nic McCullough of Residence Hall Association.

J.D. Morrison, a 2009 WT alumnus from Amarillo, was given the Student Engagement and Leadership Partnership award for his impact on Greek life on campus.

The Daniel and Myrna Raffkind Scholarship for Single Parents was given to Audra Beatty, a senior education major from Amarillo; and Kimberly Gladney, a senior communication disorders major from The Woodlands

Felipe Carrera, a senior finance major from Arlington, and Tressa Reed, a senior interdisciplinary studies major from Fowler, Colorado, were recognized as graduating 2022-23 Leadership Board members.

University Spirit Recognition Awards were given to Alexandra McPhillips, a senior dance major from Conroe; Larissa Alderete, a sophomore marketing major from Plainview; and Lexi Farmer, a sophomore digital communication and media major from Amarillo.

Mara Rodarte-Suto, a graduate student in public administration from Amarillo, and Roper Pigg, a sophomore agribusiness major from Briscoe, were named winners of the President’s Community Service Scholarship.

Student Government Association also gave several awards:

  • Student Government Member of the Year: Filiberto Avila, a junior digital communication major from Spearman;
  • University Police Department Officer of the Year: Lt. Barbara Ferrara;
  • Business of the Year: Canyon Independent School District Culinary Program;
  • Academic Leadership and Development Award: Robyn Cuthbert, a graduate student in biology from Amarillo;
  • Academic Learning and Community Engagement Award: Dr. Leslie Ramos Salazar, WT’s Abdullat Professor of Business Communication and Decision Management;
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Academic Award: African Student Organization;
  • Innovative Academic Program Award: Translators in Residence, Spanish Program
  • Open Educational Resources Educator Award: Dr. Nick Flynn, professor of biochemistry; and
  • Student Organization Community Service Award: Chi Omega.

Students also were recognized for completing a track in the Student Leadership Relay, a University-wide program designed to enhance leadership experience for all students. Those recognized April 21 included Carrera, Lawhon and Reed, along with Louis Alcala, a senior business major from Dalhart; Erin Arias, a senior animal science major from Leander; Wesley Browne, a senior animal science major from Waxahachie; Jake Day, a junior education major from Matador; Quinn Dunham, a junior agriculture media and communication major from Greensboro, North Carolina; Anna Estrada, a senior health sciences major from Borger; Rylee Finley, a junior agriculture media and communication major from Amarillo; Kylee Henneberry, a junior agribusiness and economics major from Hartford, Wisconsin; Hannah Holt, a senior psychology major from Amarillo; Sarah King, a senior nursing major from Amarillo; Yalena MacDonald, a junior biology major from Minot, North Dakota; Emma Morris, a senior criminal justice major from Sunray; Grace Nyabatware, a senior political science major from Amarillo; Gracie Oates, a junior agriculture media and communication major from Paradise; Caroline Olson, a junior animal science major from Dripping Springs; Alessandra Rendon, a senior sports and exercise science major from Amarillo; Kaylee Rhodes, a junior health sciences major from Guymon, Oklahoma; Holly Thomas, a senior animal science major from Templeton, California; Felicia Valero, a senior social work major from Amarillo; and Kyler Wilhelm, a junior management major from Canyon.

WT’s values of citizenship, hard work and servant leadership are the underpinnings of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.