Six UA Employees Land '40 Under 40' Honors

Six UA Employees Land '40 Under 40' Honors

By Shelley SheltonUniversity Communications
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40 Under 40 illustrationSix University of Arizona employees have been included in the annual "40 Under 40" list, which recognizes Tucson's young community leaders.

The honor is given based on "professional accomplishments, leadership qualities and community impact," according to the 40 Under 40 website. Winners were chosen from 360 nominations. (Click here for information on all the winners.)

The Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Daily Star and sponsor Snell & Wilmer named the winners at a ceremony held at the Doubletree Hotel on Dec. 13. The UA winners are:

  • Paloma Beamer, assistant professor in the community, environment and policy division of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.
  • Melanie Fleck, outreach specialist in the health promotion office at the Campus Health Service.
  • Keith Humphrey, outgoing assistant vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students.
  • Nathaniel Rial, M.D., research instructor in the department of gastroenterology at the College of Medicine-Tucson.
  • Kasey Urquidez, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of admissions.
  • Dominique Villela, a doctoral student and research engineer for the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy – AzRISE – where he works on energy storage, compressed-air energy research and fuel-free technology.

Additionally, Vice President for Student Affairs Melissa Vito was named Mentor of the Year.

Melissa Vito

Melissa Vito

Vito, who said she was "flabbergasted" to hear her name announced as Mentor of the Year, had a hand in nominating Urquidez and Humphrey.

"Kasey is one of the most optimistic people I've ever known. She can always create an opportunity out of any situation," she said. "Keith is a strong problem-solver and a creative thinker."

Urquidez, who turned 40 after she was nominated, said it's her job to come up with new initiatives and implement new ideas to recruit the best students.

She focuses on bringing the right students to the UA, keeping them here and making sure they graduate, she said.

"It's a very rewarding, stressful job," she said.

Keith Humphrey

Keith Humphrey

Kasey Urquidez

Kasey Urquidez

Dominique Villela

Dominique Villela

Melanie Fleck

Melanie Fleck

Paloma Beamer

Paloma Beamer

Nathaniel Rial, M.D.

Nathaniel Rial

Humphrey, 38, said he had no idea he had been nominated.

He sees the awards as being for people who have made an impact on Tucson early in their lives, on a personal as well as professional basis, he said.

He's been involved with Wingspan and the foster parents community in Tucson, having fostered five children and adopting two of them.

The honor made for a happy swan song for him, as he's leaving Tucson to become vice president for student affairs at California Polytechnic State University. The UA is holding a farewell reception for him Monday.

"It's a great honor to be recognized," he said. "It reinforces the special place that Tucson will always have in my heart."

Fleck, 26, whose job is to recruit student and staff groups to go through suicide prevention trainings, develop suicide prevention media and conduct outreach for different groups of students on campus, has been with Campus Health for a little more than three years.

"The 40 Under 40 represents the future leadership of Tucson and what's important to under-40 people in our community," she said. "We don't do our jobs expecting to be recognized. It's just kind of a bonus when you are."

Villela, 30, has a graduate research position at the University, and last June he relaunched his company, Injected Media, which works with professors to attract buyers for the technologies that result from their research.

"Most professors are not businesspeople," he said. "They want to focus on their research."

He has had a hand in securing more than $1 million in funding for various projects, most of them UA related, he said.

"I'm really honored to be among all these very motivated people," he said. "But it's important that everybody knows that they're not only motivated, but they're actually getting things done."

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