Student Recruitment

University of Houston - Victoria 
Rm.104 University West Bldg., 
3007 N. Ben Wilson, 
Victoria, Texas 77901

Denee Thomas | Sr. Dir., Enrollment Management and Retention | Major:
PhD. Microbiology, Creighton University | Hometown: Newton, Kansas
P: 361-570-4149 | E:
My name is Denee Thomas and I have worked in areas student affairs in higher education for many years. I was raised in Kansas, and graduated from Wichita State University and Creighton University. As a scientist by training, I loves analyzing data, and enjoy teaching Algebra and Microbiology. I also have a love for animals, and thoroughly enjoy gardening, cooking, reading murder mysteries, and team roping in my spare time.
Billy Lagal | Associate Director | Major: M.Ed. Adult and Higher Ed.,
University of Houston - Victoria | Hometown: Victoria, TX
P: 361-570-4865 | E:

Jena West | Senior Coordinator | Major: Criminal Justice,
University of Houston - Victoria | Hometown: Missouri City, TX
P: 361-570-4146 | E:
Hi! I’m Jena West, originally from Missouri City, Texas. I began my college experience at Galveston College, where I played softball for the Whitecaps and then transferred to UHV to play ball here as well! I just graduated with my Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice, where I began the first chapter of the Criminal Justice honor society, Alpha Phi Sigma. I was Student Government President my senior year, and also helped the UHV Jaguars to their second conference championship! Yay! I am now attaining my Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a primary concentration in Criminal Justice and a secondary concentration in Psychology. I am always looking to help and make it my personal goal to make sure that I help students, or anyone else for that matter, to have a helping hand throughout their educational journey. Smiles are what I strive for! J

Melissa Arnold | Administrative Secretary | Hometown: Victoria, TX

P: 361-570-4359 | E:


Madison Guerrero | Recruitment Coordinator | Major: Communication,
University of Houston - Victoria | Hometown: Victoria, TX
P: 361-570-4126 | E:
Hi! I’m Madison Guerrero and I was born, raised, and currently reside in Victoria, Texas with my husband. In 2008 I graduated from Victoria Memorial High School where I was a member of the band program all four years. I have been a UHV employee periodically since 2008 as a student worker and was promoted to Recruitment Assistant for Student Recruitment; I am really enjoying the transition within the university! In December 2013 I graduated from the University of Houston-Victoria with a Bachelor of Science in Communications degree which I enjoy utilizing on a daily basis in this position. In the future, I hope to obtain a Master’s degree in Higher Education from UHV to help me continue to grow within this great institution. When I’m not working or in school, I enjoy crafting anything from bows to wreaths, reading suspenseful novels, baking cakes and pastries, trying out new dinner recipes, volunteering my time at church activities and meetings, and spending time with my family and friends.

Austin/Ft. Worth area:


Office: 9442 Capital of Texas Hwy. N,
Plaza 1 Suite 500, Austin, TX 78759                                                    


Perla Studer | Sr. Coordinator | Major: Criminal Justice,
Sam Houston State University | Hometown: Victoria, TX
P: 512-343-4523 | E:

 Oh Hi! I am a Victoria native living in Austin, Texas who dreams of happiness & peace. My alma mater is Sam Houston State University, where my passion for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law led me to receive a BA in Criminal Justice. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, cycling, & a little bit of Zumba to feed my Latin soul. My absolute favorite time is when I'm with my son, Jack & husband Matt; they are my happiness.

Marisa Rivas | Recruitment Coordinator | Major: Exercise and Sport Science
Texas State University | Hometown: Austin, TX
P: 512-387-4942 | E:

My name is Marisa Rivas, and I was born and raised in Austin, Texas. Having a passion for health and wellness, and a strong desire to work with underserved communities, I pursued a Bachelor’s in Exercise and Sport Science with an All-Level Teacher Certification from Texas State University. I love sports, particularly college football! I have coached basketball, softball and some women’s football. I am also a 6-year veteran for the Austin Outlaws, a professional women’s full contact football team. In my spare time I like to stay active by running and weight training, and doing pretty much anything outdoors and/or sports related.  I also love to dance, listen to good music, travel and try new food.

Houston/Dallas area:

Rebecca Heilman | Sr. Coordinator | Major: Criminal Justice
Penn State University | Hometown: Hastings, NE
P: 281-945-2209 | E:
I have been with UHV in the Houston area since September 2012. Originally, I am from Hastings, Nebraska. After high school, I was able to travel to Ecuador for the year as a Rotary Exchange Student. Once I returned to the US, I attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education. My next move was to Florida, where I worked at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as an Education Presenter for a semester, before beginning graduate school. I received my Masters of Education in Agricultural and Extension Education from Penn State in 2012.
 Latrale Walker | Recruitment Coordinator | Major: Sociology
Texas A&M University | Virginia Beach, VA
P: 832-548-0035 | E:
Military kid from Virginia, I moved to Texas in 2008 as I started college at Texas A&M University. I love helping people so I pursed a degree in Sociology and graduated in 2012, when I started my position with Advise Texas, Texas A&M Chapter. I was placed in Houston to serve as a college adviser for low-income, underrepresented at a school in HISD. After serving for two years, I knew I wanted to stay in higher education, and pursue other avenues of the college going process, and see the recruitment side. I am also currently working on my Masters in Higher Education. When I am not working or studying you can find me on the rugby field playing for the Houston Athletic Sports Club. 

San Antonio/West Texas area:

Office: 1100 N. W. Loop 410, Ste.720, San Antonio, TX 78213
P: (210) 366-8813

Ralph Castorena | Senior Recruitment Coordinator | Major: B.S. Criminal Justice,
Sul Ross State University | Hometown: Del Rio, TX

From Del Rio, Texas. Graduated from Del Rio High School. Graduated with a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Sul Ross State University. Former History teacher/Head Soccer & Asst. Football coach at Del Rio H.S. I hold 3 national coaching licenses for soccer from USSF and NSCAA and currently coaches club soccer in San Antonio, Tx. I enjoy traveling, going to concerts, athletic events, and hard rock music. I've been with UHV since July 2010.

Joe Ward | Recruitment Coordinator | Major: Public Relations
Texas State University | Hometown: Pflugerville, TX


Q: Where are you from? 
I grew up just north of Austin in Pflugerville.  I am a proud graduate of Pflugerville High School.  Panther Pride!

Q: Where did you go to college? What did you study? 
I attended Texas State University and got my degree in Public Relations.

Q: How long have you been working in higher education? 
Nine years ago I began my journey in higher education at Texas State in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.  I started as a Transcript Evaluator and moved into an Admissions Counselor role.  I enjoy talking with prospective students and their families and helping themexplore their college options.  I am passionate about higher education and am thrilled to have joined the team at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Q: Do you have any advice for prospective students? 
Choosing where you’ll go to college is a HUGE decision.  One of the most effective ways to narrow down your college search is to visit campuses.  UHV’s premier open house event, Jaguar Day, provides the perfect opportunity for prospective students to tour the campus and get their questions answered.  Also, apply early!  It makes everything much easier for you.