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2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Department of Aviation Science and Technology

Corey Shepard, B.S.
Pilot, United Airlines
Houston, Texas

Corey Shepard started flying airplanes in the mid 90’s while attending Sterling Aviation Magnet School in Houston, Texas. He later enrolled at Texas Southern University majoring in Airway Science. He was a Frederick Douglass Honors Scholar and a Magna Cum Laude 2002 graduate. Corey was one of the first students from TSU to complete a pilot internship with ExpressJet Airlines. He was later hired as a pilot in 2004 by ExpressJet flying the EMB 145 regional jet. In 2006, he was hired by Continental Airlines to fly the Boeing 737. After the merger with United Airlines, Corey decided to go into management and became the first Black Flight Manager at the Houston base for United. From 2012 to 2014 he was responsible for more than 1000 First Officers based in Houston. Recently, Corey joined the United Pilot Training department as a 737 flight instructor. He is one of 6 African Americans and 2 TSU alumni working in the 737 flight training department. Corey lives in Houston and still volunteers his time mentoring young aspiring pilots at Sterling High School, TSU, and through the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP).




Department of Biology

Bruce Matson, D.D.S.
Houston, Texas

Dr. Bruce Matson is a native Californian who won all-district basketball and football awards in Los Angeles. His undergraduate degree is in Chemistry and Biology from Texas Southern University and he received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1989 from the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston, Texas. Dr. Matson keeps his professional skills current through frequent continuing education.  He has been a member of the American Orthodontic Society since 1998 with certification in Straight Wire Orthodontics.  Dr. Matson completed endodontic certification in 2001 and certification by the Institute for Advanced Dental Studies in 2006.  Houston Magazine nominated Dr. Matson as one of the city’s Top Dentists in 2008 and 2009. Inspired by his father who won silver and bronze in the 1952 Olympics and whose successful career earned him a place in the NFL Hall of Fame, Dr. Matson believes in the power of hard work and attention to detail.  He brings that philosophy into his practice of dentistry, making sure that each and every patient receives a world-class standard of dental care.  Dr. Matson is a devoted husband to Jocelyn Matson and father of two children, Kyle and Paige.




Department of Chemistry

Katoria R. Tatum-Gibbs, Ph.D.
BASF Chemical Company
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Katoria R. Tatum-Gibbs, Ph.D. is an Agricultural Chemist III at BASF-The Chemical Company. Her current responsibilities involve understanding the consumer risks associated with various agricultural chemicals, as well as understanding the regulatory guidelines for the successful global registration of BASF Agricultural Products. Katoria began her collegiate journey as a Tiger at Texas Southern University where she earned a B.S. in Chemistry in 2004. Katoria was in the inaugural cohort of science majors that graduated from the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation scholarship program. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Katoria entered the Environmental Toxicology doctoral program at Texas Southern University under the mentorship of Dr. Bobby Wilson. Her research focused on understanding the effects of environmental estrogens on aquatic ecosystems surrounding the Greater Houston Area. Katoria received her doctorate in Environmental Toxicology in December of 2007. Upon receiving her doctorate degree, Katoria accepted a post-doctoral fellowship with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. As a post-doctoral trainee, her research focused on evaluating potential human risks associated with the environmental exposure of perfluorinated compounds, phthalates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on developmental, reproductive, and neurological health. During her tenure as a post-doctoral trainee, she was also the author/co-author of 4 peer-reviewed journal articles. In addition to various leadership roles within BASF, Katoria is a member of the Society of Toxicology, American Chemical Society, and Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Beyond her professional endeavors, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, including her husband Eugene, her dog Deuce, and two cats Simba and Nala. She particularly likes visiting new places, as well as watching movies.

 Department of Computer Science

Michael Hancock, M.S.
Houston, Texas

Michael Hancock is a business executive and entrepreneur with a passion for creating results. With over 25 years of being a business visionary and building high performance teams, Michael’s background includes being an accomplished computer scientist, musician, and core marketing and business management specialist. He has served in leadership and management roles across research and development and business management teams in key business units at AT&T, Lucent, Avaya, and Glenayre Technologies. He graduated from the Computer Science department at Texas Southern University with a BS degree in 1985 with Magna Cum Laude honors, and then from the University of Southern California with a MS degree in Software Engineering. Since retiring in 2001, Michael continues to consult and volunteer on a limited basis in the areas of technology, general business, and arts and entertainment with a variety of US based companies and non-profits.




Department of Engineering Technology

Enefiok Ekwo, B.S.
Programmer Analyst, BMC Software Inc.
Houston, Texas

Enefiok Ekwo received his Bachelor of Science degree in the field of Electronics Engineering Technology in 2001 from Texas Southern University.  After graduation, Enefiok’s passion for education and innovation lead him to giving back to the TSU community as an Alumni and member of the ELET Advisory Board. In 2000 he was hired on as a Programmer Analyst at BMC Software, Inc. where he has received numerous Executive and Vice Presidential awards due to his innovative work with the company. Enefiok Ekwo lives in Houston, Texas.







Department of Environmental and Interdisciplinary Sciences

Shawn E. Simmons, Ph.D.
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Houston, Texas

Shawn Emerson Simmons, PhD is the Water, Waste, and State Regulatory Manager for the Central Safety, Security, Health, and Environment (SSH&E) Organization of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Prior to this assignment, she held a supervisor position that was responsible for environmental & regulatory issues in Africa, the Asian Pacific, Australia, and Europe. From 2007-2012, Simmons worked and lived in Lagos, Nigeria with her family. Simmons is a 1989 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Engineering Professions in Houston, Texas. She has a B.S. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma, a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Rice University, and a PhD in Environmental Toxicology from Texas Southern University. Simmons has worked for Exxon Mobil for 14 years. Dr. Simmons received many accolades during her undergraduate years including the Black Engineer of the Year – Student Leadership Award, Miss Black University of Oklahoma, and the Volunteer Spirit Award from General Motors Corporation. Her volunteer service continues today. Dr. Simmons is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and serves on one of its International Committees. She has served with several non-profit organizations including Child Care Council of Greater Houston, Bayou Land Conservancy, and United Way. Dr. Simmons holds professional memberships with the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers and Society of Women Engineers. Dr. Simmons has received the “Tomorrow’s Leader Today” Award, the YMCA Young African-American Achiever Award and was featured in Ebony magazine as one of the “30 Leaders of the Future”. At work, she is an active participant with the Black Employees Success Team (BEST), serving as the organization’s Community Outreach Chair. She and her husband, Philip have been married 19 years and have 2 children, Jonathan and Jacquelyn. Simmons is passionate about volunteer service and leadership development. Simmons credits a supportive family, friends, and a countless number of formal and informal mentors who have helped her achieve academic, personal, and professional goals.

Department of Industrial Technology

Yotarsha Barker, B.S.
Houston, Texas

Yotarsha Barker is a business owner as well as an educator. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Construction in 1999 from the School of Technology. Yotarsha is also pursuing her MS in Transportation. Yotarsha enjoys building and designing environments for the future generations. Yotarsha’s favorite pastime is watching the Dallas Cowboys, fishing, traveling, and dancing. She is currently a sponsor for Ambassadors Preparatory Academy Cheerleaders and a Mayoral appointee for the Board of Adjustment and Code Enforcement for the City of Texas City. Yotarsha is a native of Texas City, Texas and is currently residing in Houston with her husband and best friend Michael Barker. Yotarsha has two children Jarrail D. Jackson and Jamiece M. Jackson and 5 wonderful grandchildren.





Department of Mathematics

Jack Hatton, M.S.
Houston Community College – Northeast
Houston, Texas

Jack Hatton is a mathematics instructor at Houston Community College-Northeast.  He received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mathematics from Texas Southern University. He has been an educator for more than twenty-five years. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Jack began his career in education as a math teacher in the Houston Independent School District at Stephen F. Austin High School where he taught for eleven years. In 1994 and 1998, Jack was named S.F. Austin Teacher of the Year. In 1998, he was also named the HISD East District and a Houston Area Alliance of Black School Educators Teacher of the Year. In addition, Jack was selected as a Teacher-in-Residence for the Scholars Enrichment Program at the University of Houston as a lecturer of Pre-Calculus and Calculus during the 1995-96 school year. During his final four years at S.F. Austin High School, Jack served as the mathematics department chair. During the summers from 1996 to 1998, Jack worked with the University of Houston-PROMES Program where he taught Pre-Calculus and Calculus to rising high school seniors from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. In the summer of 1998, he began working with the Texas Southern University Upward Bound Math-Science Program teaching Calculus to rising high school seniors.  He worked with this program for more than a decade. As a mathematics student at TSU, Jack had the privilege to work with several committed and caring professors in order to hone his mathematical skills. He has greatly appreciated the opportunity to work closely with his advisor and friend Dr. Willie Taylor, whom he occasionally shares experiences and seeks advice. While pursuing his Master’s degree, Jack began working as an adjunct mathematics instructor for the Houston Community College System. In 1999, he began as an adjunct mathematics instructor for the University of Houston-Downtown. In 2001, Jack left the Houston ISD to embark on a career as a full time mathematics instructor for the Houston Community College System where he currently works.  During his years at HCCS, Jack has been an active member of the Developmental Math and Mathematics Discipline Committees. He has also participated in various workshops, trainings and conferences.  In 2007, Jack was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and Educators. Recently, he has worked on several curriculum development teams. On two of these teams, he served as a co-chair for developing an online master course for developmental math classes. For the past nine years at HCCS, Jack has taught many distance education courses. Jack currently resides in Pearland, Texas with his wife LaRita, daughter Raven and son Joshua.


Department of Physics

Jerald Rennard Watley, B.S.
Geophysical Processor, TGS
Houston, Texas

Jerald Rennard Watley was born in Houston, TX. He spent majority of his childhood in the rural parts of Northern Louisiana. After graduating from Grambling State University Laboratory High School in 2008, he was offered nearly id=”mce_marker”00,000 in scholarships. After spending a year at Grambling State University, Jerald decided that he wanted to venture off on his own, in another state and university, to pursue a degree program that would challenge him. During the summer of 2010, he decided to bring his talents to Texas Southern University and pursue a B.S. in Physics. In May of 2012, he graduated from Texas Southern University with honors, Magna Cum Laude. A month prior to graduation, Jerald was offered a position as a Processing Technician at TGS, a Geophysical Service Company. He has been there for 2 ½ years and is currently working as a Geophysical Processor. In this role, he is responsible for processing 2D and 3D time/depth projects including the generation of processing flows, parameter selection and velocity interpretation. His future goals are to become an Advising Geophysicist in the geophysical industry.





Department of Transportation Studies

Ruben Howard, Ph.D.
Dean of Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics
City Colleges of Chicago’s Olive-Harvey campus, Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Ruben Howard is the Dean of Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics for the City Colleges of Chicago’s Olive-Harvey campus. In his current role, Ruben is responsible for Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) academic programming within the new $44 million dollar TDL Center, currently under construction. The 103,000 sq. ft. TDL Center will house programs including automotive technology, diesel technology, public chauffeur training, commercial truck driving, and logistics management. The TDL Center will also include a Central Distribution Center for office products dedicated to City Colleges of Chicago’s seven campuses. The 7000 sq. ft. Central Distribution Center will allow logistics management students to gain hands on experience in warehousing operations and distribution before graduating. Ruben currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Calumet Area Industrial Council (CAIC) and is a member of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP). Prior to joining City Colleges of Chicago, Ruben served as the Business Department Chair and Professor of Logistics Management for 10 years with Lone Star College Cy-fair in Cypress, TX. While in Houston, Dr. Howard served on several boards including the CSCMP Houston Roundtable and the Texas Southern University Maritime Transportation Board. Ruben’s industry experience spans over 15 years and includes auto manufacturing, transportation, warehousing/distribution, 3rd party logistics, and military traffic management. Ruben holds a Ph.D. in Business from Capella University, M.S.B.A in Business Administration from Texas A&M University, M.S. in Transportation Management from Texas Southern University, and a B.S. in Airway Science from Jackson State University. During his studies at Texas Southern University, Ruben worked as graduate research assistant in the Center for Transportation Studies. Dr. Howard considers himself as a lifelong learner and actively participates in supply chain, logistics, and workforce education panel discussions and conferences. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing golf, and mentoring young people.