Posted on April 18, 2019 by Michelle Skidmore

Congratulations to the COPP Most Outstanding Students:

Undergraduate: Stephanie Barrera, Criminal Justice and Public Administration

Graduate: Byanda Ramos, Master of Social Work

Every year, the College awards students who have built a record of leadership, scholarship and service to UTSA. These students are among the best and brightest and are dedicated to the mission of COPP: to advance salient public policy and practice through research, rigorous educational programs, service and collaborative partnerships that contribute to the public good within a diverse society.

Students are recognized at the University Life Awards, sponsored by the UTSA Student Government Association.

stephanie barrera

Stephanie Barrera, Public Administration and Criminal Justice student, COPP Most Outstanding Undergraduate

Stephanie Barrera is a first generation student at UTSA, double majoring in Criminal Justice and Public Administration. She has served in a wide range of leadership roles. She served as a member of the COPP Student Cabinet and as an ambassador to the Downtown Campus collaborative, addressing current issues among students and potential areas for improvement. She received multiple scholarships and worked hard to create an inclusive campus environment. She participated in campaigns aimed to leverage gift support to the College such as the I Love UTSA campaign in 2017 . She served on a panel to give advice to Lasara High School students and volunteered with Thomas Edison’s literacy program, Haven for Hope, Any Baby Can, the DoSeum, UTSA’s BestFest, the League of Women Voters, and more. She is a member of Roadrunner Productions, Pi Alpha Alpha (the Public Affairs and Administration Honor Society), the Hispanic Student Association, and the Public Administration Student Organization. Stephanie was named Who’s Who at UTSA in 2017, made the President’s List four times and the Dean’s List twice. She expects to graduate in December of 2019.

“Being named the most outstanding undergraduate student feels amazing,” said Barrera.

“I am so contented to represent the College of Public Policy and embody the type of student they wish to honor and recognize. This award has enabled me to make my family, and myself, proud. It almost feels as if I am being recognized for all of my accomplishments and strenuous work I have experienced during my time at UTSA. I am so thankful and honored to have been selected.”

byanka ramos

Byanka Ramos, Master of Social Work student, COPP Most Outstanding Graduate student

Byanka Ramos is a student of the Master of Social Work program at UTSA. She became a member of the Ronald E. McNair’s Scholars Program, which introduced her to conducting research and presenting it on the national level. Byanka worked with Assistant Professor Bonita Sharma on the impact of natural disasters on women, specifically pregnant and postpartum women. Their work was recently accepted to the University of Texas Health Science’s 6th Annual Cultural Inclusion Conference. She will be the lead presenting author.

Byanka is a dedicated leader and heavily engaged in the community. She serves as President of the Social Work Student Council. In her position, she has focused on social work student outreach through participating in events and such as Social Work Legislative Day at the Capitol in Austin. There, she and other social work students discussed the importance of policy and advocacy in the profession of social work. She rallied other students to participate in the UTSA Cardboard Kids Campaign where over 1,000 cardboard kids were decorated to raise awareness of child abuse prevention.

"Sometimes as a student parent, I feel guilty devoting so much time to my education,” said Ramos.

“Receiving this award just validates my hard work and assures me that my work in school, research, and service will serve as an example for my daughter to follow. She will know she can be a mom, student, or anything she wants and be successful at it.”

Stephanie and Byanka will officially be recognized at the University of Life Awards on Thursday, May 2, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in the Denman Ballroom of the Student Union at UTSA’s 1604 Campus.



— Michelle Skidmore