2017 Outstanding Raiders Who Rock

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The purpose of the Raiders Who Rock program is to recognize outstanding students, faculty, and staff who make Texas Tech a better community for all of its members. The contributions of these individuals can range from exemplary accomplishments to small gestures, but each one positively impacts the quality of life for members of the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities.

Oftentimes these students, faculty/staff and organizations are involved in activities within the Lubbock and Tech Communities, and do the work that they do because it is fulfilling to them, not for recognition. With this understanding, we would like to recognize these Texas Tech community members through this program and in a way that allows someone else to initiate the Raiders Who Rock stories.

All Raiders Who Rock nominees and their nominators are honored at the Raiders Who Rock Banquet, and the top nominee from each category will be announced and will receive a special award. The Raiders Who Rock Banquet is an opportunity to publicly honor and reward students, faculty, staff and organizations who make a positive impact on the Texas Tech community.

Congratulations to all of our 2017 Raiders Who Rock!

Featured below are the top nominees from each category


Strive for Honor

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Aida Gutierrez was nominated by Laura Thomas.

The Student Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Strive for Honor award is Aida Gutierrez.

Aida currently works for the Department of Recreational Sports as a Sport Club Student Director. She leads by example and is always up for a challenge. Aida takes initiative to complete tasks that fellow staff members maybe haven’t gotten to, or have forgotten about. She never asks for individual credit or appreciation, and is always first to use language like “we” and “the team”.

The Department of Recreational Sports has over 1000 student athletes in the program, and her nominator believes it is because of Aida’s passion for the direction that has spread positivity so far throughout the program. Aida doesn’t use the word “leader” to describe herself, but you can tell that all other students and professional staff that work with her respect and appreciate everything she does while striving for honor.

Kathryn Nelson

Kathryn was nominated by Olivia Ross, Michael Ross, Marie Reinke, Thanh Tran, Natalie Campbell, Garrett Blackwell. Amanda Gunter, Megan Hatcher, Henry Oliver, and Kelly Aaron.

The Faculty/Staff Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Strive for Honor award is Kathryn Nelson.

Mrs. Nelson is currently a professor in the Landscape Architecture Department. She is multi-faceted in her professionalism, whether it is in her formal role as classroom instructor and academic advisor, or informally as a mentor and cheerleader for her students and coworkers. Kathryn takes initiative, and is known to be committed to doing the right thing. She is always supportive, dependable, helpful, and patient.

Some of her students say Kathryn is the epitome of an extraordinary instructor. She displays a commitment to treating all students and coworkers in the department with respect regardless of her work load, stress level, or any negative factors involved in her day. She understands the obligation that faculty have to students and, in turn, realizes that they deserve high value for their educational investment. She naturally is extraordinary even in, what would otherwise be, ordinary circumstances.

Unsung Hero

Dr. Kimberly Sparr

Dr. Kimberly Sparr was nominated by Nasr Sheikh and Jordan Kirksey.

The Faculty/Staff Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Unsung Hero award is Dr. Kimberly Sparr.

Dr. Sparr is currently the professor of viola in the College of Music. As a distinguished musician, with a resume that is flooded with conservatory and professional orchestral experience, she is one of the most sought-after violists in the nation. One of her many goals as a teacher is to cultivate her students’ own thinking and decision-making as musicians.

The most unique thing about Dr. Sparr, in regards to her teaching and performing is her unparalleled energy. As a person, Dr. Sparr carries a wave of contagious energy that marks her presence wherever she goes. Faculty, staff, and students become different people by interacting with her.

In the fall of 2016, Dr. Sparr was diagnosed with cancer. It was an early stage of cancer, and there was no damage done to the body. However, the treatment she received would take a toll on her. While remaining a full-time teacher, performer, and faculty member, she underwent a series of chemotherapy treatments that left her weaker. Despite undergoing a huge battle, Dr. Sparr continued to work some concerts with the Lubbock Symphony and teaching as many of her students as she could, remaining a rock star to the people who she gracefully inspired with her sheer presence.

Chad Campbell

Chad Campbell was nominated by Dr. Aliza Wong.

The Student Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Unsung Hero award is Chad Campbell.

Chad has been part of the Bayless Mentoring Program in the Honors College for the past three years. He even gave up a prestigious internship because he believed that the socioeconomically challenged children of this local elementary school needed him more.

Chad has been a constant, dependable, encouraging, hopeful presence for several children in the program. He can also be described as the quiet person in the back of the room who always provides support, who always encourages, who gives strength, inspiration, courage, hope in the endeavor. Chad tirelessly works behind the scenes to improve the projects he is involved in.

Pursuit of Excellence

Mechref and Wong

Farah Mechref was nominated by Dr. Aliza Wong.

The Student Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Pursuit of Excellence award is Farah Mechref.

Farah is currently a pre-med student whose contributions to, and achievements at, Texas Tech embody what it means to pursue excellence. She is committed to academic excellence, social justice, global vision, campus safety, human rights, and honor evermore. Dr. Wong describes her as having been at the forefront of Texas Tech.

Farah was one of only six women WORLDWIDE to participate in the Women’s Global Leadership program at the Andi Institute. Along with two American students, and three from places such as Kuwait and Lebanon, Farah was one of the six women who lived, breathed, and spoke with some of the most amazing female leaders of our age in Washington D.C.

Farah is also a senator for our student government, a member of President’s Select, a mentor for freshman, and is an ambassador in the Honors College. Her dedication and drive to make a positive impact on the lives of others, especially those here at Texas Tech, attest to her passion to make the world a better place.

The Faculty/Staff Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Pursuit of Excellence award is Dr. David Rivera.

Dr. Rivera is currently the Associate Chairperson for the Hospitality & Retail Management Department at Texas Tech. Dr. Rivera has only been a Tech employee for a few months, but has already impacted many students in the department. He is consistently meeting with students to discuss their education and career goals, and has a way of connecting to students. He works long hours, does not complain, and goes above and beyond expectations.

Dr. Rivera illustrates a productivity level that is considered to be unmatched. His enthusiasm and commitment to work are unquestioned, and his excitement for life is evident in all he does. Dr. Rivera’s passion for helping others, education and student development, along with his ability to lead, shows his determination to be the best for himself and others.

Community Service & Leadership

Kyle Jay

Kyle Jay was nominated by Maggie Gilchrest.

The Faculty/Staff Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Community Service & Leadership award is Kyle Jay.

Kyle is currently an instructor within the National Wind Institute. He measures his success by students who grow in personal and professional capacities, not by the number of A’s his students are able to obtain in his coursework. He cares as much for the C+ student that grows in knowledge and professional skills as he does for the students that excel easily in his coursework and garner A’s. He demands as much of himself as he does his students, and is always the first faculty member within the wind instructor group to attend professional development training in the TLPDC or other conferences.

Kyle embodies the Community Service & Leadership Award most through his work with the Grace Campus Project. Kyle created a student organization made up of wind students whose primary goal is to find clean energy power solutions for a non-profit homeless shelter in East Lubbock. He meets with Grace Campus administrators to discuss options for clean energy, opportunities for community service for his students, and logistics of wind power at Grace.

Rather than looking to promote our department, Kyle has decided that wind is not an economically feasible solution for Grace Campus and its inhabitants. Regardless, he and his students continue to meet at Grace Campus to volunteer, hoping that while they wait for the market to shift and clean energy to more affordable to non-profits, they can provide some relief and aid to the inhabitants of Grace Campus.

Bimali and Adhikary

Roshan Bimali was nominated by Sagar Adhikary.

The Student Outstanding Raider Who Rocks to receive the Community Service & Leadership award is Roshan Bimali.

Roshan is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering. His academic success has led to several achievements, including being elected for membership in Mortar Board. He has demonstrated a great work ethic and leadership skills during his time at Texas Tech.

Through his involvement and presidency of the Nepal Student Association, he has had a remarkable impact on the organization and its members; one of which was raising $21,000 through a four-day fundraiser to support the 2015 earthquake victims in Nepal. Roshan has served as the chairman of the Diversity Committee through Student Government, as a senator for the College of Engineering, and a member of Engineers Without Borders. His service, both on and off campus, demonstrates his passion to help others in any way that he can.

Cooperation & Communication

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The Tech Gay Straight Alliance was nominated by Zack Madrid and Allison Cattell.

The Outstanding Raiders Who Rock to receive the Cooperation & Communication award is the Tech Gay Straight Alliance.

The Tech Gay Straight Alliance is a student organization focused on encouraging other students to be open about who they are and to be accepting of others. They effectively communicate with other organizations to also demonstrate acceptance across campus.

The students who serve as officers have been extremely proactive in working together to orchestrate a number of high-impact events that serve the Texas Tech community. Through their phenomenal leadership and collaboration with other organizations, they were able to raise money to offer scholarships to students on campus, along with educational lectures. This organization’s efforts continue to enrich both Texas Tech and the surrounding community by bringing people together as they serve to educate and benefit all students at Texas Tech, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

7 Reasons to Attend Raider Welcome

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  1. Get connected

Getting connected to Tech and all it has to offer early is proven to help you be more successful academically.  Come to Raider Welcome and meet some new people, connect with classmates and faculty and get started in the right direction!

  1. Explore Lubbock

Lubbock is a big place and Raider Welcome will make you feel more comfortable with your surroundings and make it easier for you to transition to Red Raider life.

  1. Learn about your future

Learn about your academic program, the courses you will take, and where it can lead you during academic meet and greets with faculty, staff and advisors.

  1. Get tips for success

We’ll give you great information on the student services available at TTU to help support your success both inside and outside of the classroom.

  1. Don’t get lost

Getting lost is never good, especially on the first day of classes.  Take time to explore campus, or take a tour – get to know your new school! If you are walking, biking or taking the bus, it’s a good idea to figure out your travel times before the first day of class.

  1. Get TTU gear

Who doesn’t want FREE TTU swag?!

  1. Have FUN!

Raider Welcome has a ton of great socials planned for you. Among the activities are a few major events, some old-standing traditions, and some exciting new opportunities that you just cannot afford to miss!

Check out our website www.raiderwelcome.ttu.edu for a full schedule of events. You can even follow us on social media for schedule updates. Be sure to use #RaiderWelcome to connect with others attending these events.

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SPOILER ALERT: We’ll be giving away lots of swag on social media and at events throughout the week!

First Year Feature- Shelley Johnson

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Shelley Johnson || Student Business Services

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Meet Shelley Johnson, the next person in our #FirstYearFeature series. Shelley is the Trainer of Student Business Services.

“Student Business Services is the office that takes payment for tuition and fees, room and board, and everything. You can do it all in one place with us. We offer payment plans so you don’t have to pay it all at one time. If you have financial aid and are going to have excess money left over, we offer direct deposit of refunds to help you get your funds faster. If you are a little short at the beginning of the semester, we offer book loans to help you with some of the upfront expenses of your books and supplies. We are here five days a week to answer questions anytime you need help.” –Shelley Johnson


Q: What services does your office have for First Year Students at Texas Tech University?

SBS offers payment plans for tuition and fees, My Direct Deposit for student refunds, and book loans to help out with beginning-of-term expenses.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

I look forward to Red Raider Orientation every year. I enjoy working with our student leaders on the RRO Crew, and it’s fun to see our new students (and their families) get excited to be Red Raiders.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Texas Tech and why?

I love the TTU community of faculty and staff. There’s something very cool about being part of a team whose mission is education. I’m proud to be part of it.

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus?

I really like the statue called “The Way West” by Gordon/West Halls. It reminds me of a passage from one of the Harry Potter novels, where Xenophilius Lovegood has made his own replica of what he thinks the diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw looks like. (You can see the statue here: http://texastech.edu/fpc/public-art/walking-tour/FLASH/index.html)

Q: What advice would you give first year students?

GO TO CLASS!

Q: Looking back to your first year, what would you change? What would you do the same?

If I could get a do over, I would definitely ask more questions. I didn’t want to look like a “dumb freshman” back then, but now I know asking questions is how you  get the most out of your education. Even with a do over, I’d still join a student organization. Getting involved is a great way to meet people and be an active part of the Red Raider community.

Q: What is your favorite place to eat in Lubbock?

I love MamaRita’s Border Café. It’s really good, reasonably priced West Texas Tex-Mex and you can only find it in Lubbock. They make six different salsas. I dare you to try the Holy Jalapeno.

Q: What are some hobbies you have?

I go to the movies every chance I get. When I can’t go to the movies, I read.

Q: What is your favorite Tech Tradition?

I love Raider Red. Maybe it’s the mustache.


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