WT instructor, SBDC director honored for community work

Local News

Courtesy West Texas A&M University

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A West Texas A&M University instructor and a staff member were honored by community organizations for their work, according to a press release by WT’s Communication Dept.

Leslie Hinojosa, new social work instructor in WT’s Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work was awarded the 2021 Young Rising Star Award from Los Barrios de Amarillo, the release stated.

“As (Hinojosa) continued on with her own education at Our Lady of the Lake to obtain her Ph.D. in social work, she realized the lack of Hispanic representation within the higher education world,” according to her nominator.

“Leslie made a decision to leave direct practice in the social work field and begin her journey as an instructor sooner than she anticipated. Leslie wants her students to see themselves represented at the front of the classroom, not just in the classroom,” the nominator concluded.

The award celebration took place on Oct. 14 as part of Los Barrios’ 50th anniversary.

“My goal has and always will be to work with my community to show that people who look like me and have had obstacles in their lives like me can truly make a generational impact,” Hinojosa said. “It was my parents’ choice to provide my family with a better life that broke generational cycles, because of their sacrifice my family and future generations will forever be changed. I say this to say that my hope now and, in the future, will always be to create generational impact within my community and those that I have the fortune to serve.”

Los Barrios de Amarillo, a nonprofit that promotes higher education, was established in 1971 under the patronage of Amarillo Wesley Community Center.

In addition, Gina Woodward, regional director of America’s Small Business Development Center at WTAMU, was presented the Top Gun Award by The High Ground of Texas, according to WT.

The release said that the award “recognizes High Ground members who continually represent the organization and the region in a positive light, going above and beyond the call of duty, going the extra mile when assistance is needed and providing the leadership needed to raise The High Ground to the highest level.”

“This is the first time anyone from an SBDC has ever received the award,” Woodward said. “There were many others across West Texas who were working equally long hours to help small businesses owners during the height of Covid-19, so I’m especially honored to have been chosen this year in particular.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Woodward and her team became a major part of connecting business owners to necessary resources, while helping them navigate changing mandates, rules, and policies, according to the release.

“During such a stressful time, Woodward worked around the clock to research the issues that mattered to businesses so that she could be in the know and communicate that knowledge to people who needed it,” said Kasey Coker, The High Ground of Texas executive director.

“Gina Woodward has been a lifeline during these difficult months of Covid-19,” Coker said. “She was a great help to keep our members informed about ever changing programs available to assist small businesses in their communities. She truly goes above and beyond to serve West Texas.”

Woodward was recently elected to serve on The High Ground of Texas Board of Directors, the release said.

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