Led by University Advancement, these high-caliber student leaders seek to connect donors, alumni, volunteers and the Houston community with UH students in meaningful ways, grow the student body’s awareness of alumni and philanthropy programs and develop future Cougar leaders.

joshua varghese

Joshua Varghese (’20)

Joshua Varghese (’20) is a third-year University of Houston Cougar studying biology, with minors in mathematics and psychology. He enjoys tutoring other students in physics. He is a Student Ambassador for University of Houston Division of Advancement, and he hopes to become a doctor because of his strong desire to be an inspiration in the lives of others.

Winning no matter what!

1. What are your goals after graduation? Ever since I was in middle school, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in medicine. Throughout high school and my first couple of years of college, I was able to participate in hands-on hospital experiences via volunteering, and this further manifested my goal of becoming a doctor.

2. What inspires you? My parents are my biggest inspiration. They moved to America from India a few years before I was born, seeking the land of opportunity, and finally settling in Dallas, Texas where I was raised. While growing up, they always pushed me to be the best at everything I do.

3. What does being a student leader mean to you? Being a student leader comes with a lot of responsibility. Students actually look to you for advice, motivation and assistance. For example, in my free time, I am a physics tutor, teaching physics classes every week with a total of about 100 students. I help students accomplish their dreams. That is more than enough motivation for me to continue being a leader, role model and mentor around campus every single day.

4. What’s the best book you’ve ever read and why? In my 10th grade English class in high school I had to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. It explored how diversity broke apart a community, but sympathy, compassion and acceptance can mend a broken people.

5. What makes UH’s culture unique? How do we protect it? The University of Houston is unique because of its pride. I have never visited or attended another university that was this proud of its athletics, history and leadership. Whether it be our yearly “Cat’s Back” in the fall, our yearly Frontier Fiesta in the spring, our chants at athletic events or even something as simple as wearing a splash of red on Fridays, our students are proud to be Cougars, and we want the world to know it.

6. If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be? A song I would want to be played every time I enter a room is “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled because this song tells me that I am capable of doing anything if I put my mind to it.

chiwetalu odo

Chiwetalu Odo (’20)

Chiwetalu Odo (’20) is an international undergraduate student at the University of Houston, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering at the Cullen College of Engineering. His passion for teaching has continually developed over the course of his undergraduate career. For over three years now, Odo has helped students from varied majors learn and perfect their subjects in his role of Academic Support Assistant at the campus-wide tutoring center. In his free time, Odo can be found hiking and exploring the outdoors in national and state parks. He also channels his energy into creating pastries: he is a self-proclaimed world-class pastry chef!

Weather the storm!

1. What are your goals after graduation? Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend graduate school for a master’s and subsequently, a doctorate degree in data science with an emphasis in machine learning. Long term, I aspire to connect with various cultures while teaching and researching at universities around the world.

2. What inspires you? I am inspired by all the great scientists, like Einstein and Newton, that humanity has created over the years who were not afraid to think outside the box and challenge the norm. Their courage led to revolutionizing the way we all think as a species.

3. What does being a student leader mean to you? A student leader is one who takes initiative to spread knowledge in the form of motivation, mentorship and exemplary action. As a student leader, I strive to be a step ahead of new challenges that could emerge over time. In the end, I believe being a student leader purports comprehending one’s unlocked potential and helping others do the same.

4. What’s the best book you’ve ever read and why? The best book I have ever read is easily “The Goal” by Eliyahu Goldratt. What I learned from this book is that exceptional brain power is not required to introduce a new way of thinking. All one needs is the courage to face the inconsistencies that arise and avoid running away from them just because “that’s the way it has always been done.”

5. What makes UH’s culture unique? How do we protect it? UH students have been bred to genuinely care for each other. With over 150 countries represented by its student body, it is extremely heartwarming to see people from vastly different backgrounds come together to ensure that everyone feels welcomed, and no one is left behind. Protecting this culture is a very easy task because the bond shared among UH Cougars cannot be easily broken. Nevertheless, wearing red on Fridays has been shown to increase its resilience.

6. If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be? Without a doubt, I’d listen to “Dance in the Rain” by 2face Idibia every day for the rest of my life. His lyrics perfectly capture the philosophy I aspire to live my life by. I believe that people will lead happier lives once they realize that it is much more important to dance in the rain rather than weather out the storm.

madeleine garcia

Madeleine Garcia (’20)

Madeleine Garcia (’20) studies architecture with a minor in energy and sustainability at the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design. Madeleine is a part of the Honors College and is actively involved on campus. A New Member Educator for the Chi Omega Sorority, she also serves as a Student Ambassador for advancement and the College Architecture.

All Star!!

1. What are your goals after graduation? After graduation, I would like to attend graduate school and gain a stronger focus on the aspects of design I am interested in. I hope to then begin my career in architecture or design at a firm here in Houston. I plan to become an accredited Architect with a LEED credential for sustainable design. One of my last goals is to take advantage of traveling when I can, because I grew up in Houston and would love to get out of my comfort zone.

2. What inspires you? I am most often inspired by music and photography. I am constantly listening to all genres of music because it drives my creativity and keeps me focused. Photography is a big passion of mine and is still a hobby today. I have always found inspiration here because it has allowed me to be myself, and it is what ultimately got me interested in architecture.

3. What does being a student leader mean to you? A student leader is an individual who takes action and chooses to offer help or guidance for a small group or even the wider community. I believe it is important that everyone strives to be a leader in some aspect. It not only teaches you important life skills but it also allows for personal growth.

4. What’s the best book you’ve ever read and why? I have always been a fan of the Harry Potter series, and that will forever be my all-time favorite. Every time I read the books, they reflect something entirely different depending on what’s going on in my life.

5. What makes UH’s culture unique? How do we protect it? UH is unique because even as it continues to grow, the community has remained close-knit and truly feels like a second home to me. This type of culture is important to protect because it reminds students that they’re more than just a number. In order to protect this aspect of UH as we continue to grow, we must stick to the traditions that make this campus so unique.

6. If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be? I would love if “All Star” by Smash Mouth played every time I walked into a room. It gets me excited for the day and reminds me to not take things too seriously. It would definitely draw attention and a few laughs, as well!