Alumni Association Awards 2021 Senior Honor Citations

2021 Senior Honor Citation awardees Jissel Esparza Saucedo and Emily Richey
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2021 Senior Honor Citation awardees Jissel Esparza Saucedo and Emily Richey

The Arkansas Alumni Association have recognized U of A graduating seniors Jissel Esparza Saucedo of Jonesboro and Emily Richey of Paris with the 2021 Senior Honor Citation. 

The award was announced by Mark Power, vice chancellor of advancement, at the conclusion of the celebration on April 30.

Established in 1965 by the Arkansas Alumni Association, the award recognizes a senior male and female student who each exhibits outstanding academic achievement, leadership skills and co-curricular activities at the U of A.

From 2015-2019, the recognition included a spring awards celebration known as the Cardinal & White Banquet. For the second year in a row, the Alumni Association modified the ceremony from previous years to comply with health and safety guidelines related to COVID-19. The staff of the Arkansas Alumni Association honored all outstanding seniors with three celebrations on Friday, April 30, in the Verizon Ballroom of the Arkansas Union. 

During the celebration, the Arkansas Alumni Association recognized the Class of 2021 Seniors of Significance and Razorback Classic awardees. Each year, students are recommended by faculty and staff and invited to apply for the Senior Awards program.

To support an inclusive and equitable selection process, the association decided to remove gender from the selection criteria for Razorback Classics and Senior Honor Citations as a way to diversify the pools of both applicants and reviewers.  

As the winners of the Senior Honor Citation, Esparza Saucedo and Richey received life memberships in the Arkansas Alumni Association and permanent recognition on a plaque at the Janelle Y. Hembree Alumni House. They will be invited back to campus to represent their class at events, including speaking at their Senior Walk dedication. 


Esparza Saucedo was the 2020-21 student body treasurer and also had several other roles within the Associated Student Government. She has been an active member of Chi Omega, where she served as director of alumni relations among other roles. She also balanced her co-curricular commitments and challenging academic schedule with an internship at General Mills, logging over 100 hours of volunteer service in Northwest Arkansas, and mentoring 20 Latinx students at J.O. Kelly Middle School through Sin Limites. 

“Being a member of the Razorback family goes beyond completing a degree; it is about making a lifelong commitment to the place that helped shape my future, my dreams and my friendships,” Esparza Saucedo said. “Time and time again, I’ve been awestruck by the dedication, admiration and love UA alumni hold. My time in college has served as verification of their devotion.” 

As a first-generation college student herself, Esparza Saucedo embraced her opportunities and used them as a mentor with the explicit goal of increasing recruitment and retention rates among first-generation and underrepresented student populations.

“As a Sin Limites mentor, ... I mentored children who had never really seen themselves as the types of people to attend college,” she said. “To be quite truthful, the experience resonated with me greatly because I saw myself in their shoes. Outside of helping them with their homework, I worked on teaching them about all the opportunities that attending colleges granted them, and that the University of Arkansas is a place where the Latinx community is embraced and celebrated.” 

Esparza Saucedo is an accounting major in the Sam M. Walton College of Business.


Emily Richey has been a U of A Honors College Fellow from 2017-21. Additionally, she held leadership roles across campus including serving as president and treasurer of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Honor Society, chaplain and philanthropy committee member for Kappa Kappa Gamma, and board member for the Office of Financial Affairs with the Associated Student Government. 

Richey has completed hundreds of service hours and received awards for both her philanthropic and academic achievements. Her dedication to her chosen field of medicine is reflected in the eight hours per week she spent in Suresh Kumar’s biochemistry research lab throughout her college career and in the extensive shadowing and international study abroad opportunities of which she availed herself. 

Emily has a strong sense of connection to the U of A and looks forward to giving back as an alumna of the institution. 

“Being an alumn[a] runs much deeper than putting a sticker on your car. It means that you are forever a part of a community that actively works to build tomorrow’s leaders and consists of a network that expands into all sectors of the workforce,” Richey said. “I plan to give back to the University of Arkansas post-graduation by encouraging small-town students like myself to attend school there. Older students encouraged and showed me that I was capable. This boost of encouragement led me to not only attend school at the University of Arkansas, but to become a leader on campus. ... By continuing to mentor small-town high school students in my future, I plan to help guide more small-town students to be leaders at the University of Arkansas. Through all of these endeavors, I will continue giving back to the school that has given so much to me.” 

Richey is a biochemistry major in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the top 3% of U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.


Mercedes B. Gazaway, assistant director of internal relations
Arkansas Alumni Association

Lisy McKinnon, interim director of alumni communications
Arkansas Alumni Association


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