UST Announces the 2021 Mr. & Ms. UST

By: Sandra Soliz
| Published 04/15/2021

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HOUSTON, TX -- Two proven students leaders on their way to healthcare careers as a physician and nurse, respectively, seniors Youssef Ahmed and Margaret Gaston have been named to represent St. Thomas as Mr. & Ms. UST. These roles, originally Mardi Gras king and queen, are chosen by a UST staff committee.

Amanda Villanueva, Assistant Dean of Students said, “We realized a few years back that restricting the selection of this prestigious position to just being a representative at Mardi Gras Gala was too limiting. We wanted the title of the student to really capture the real essence of what it represents: not just a beautiful evening dinner, but the embodiment of what a Celt can be. In conjunction with Student Affairs, University Events and Athletics, we decided to include the crowning of the king and queen to coincide with Homecoming, which helped us make the transition to Mr. and Ms. UST.

“Now, our intention is to continue to increase the visibility and functions of the Mr. and Ms. UST role,” Villanueva said. “We have included these students in our Celts Day of Service, as well as serving on different committees. We want to continue finding ways to showcase the amazing students who are selected for Mr. and Ms. UST so that incoming students, current students and alumni can all see that UST continues to cultivate leaders who are grounded in faith and reason.”

Mardi Gras 2021: Masquerade Under the Stars
Ahmed and Gaston will serve in their Mr. and Ms. UST roles at the Mardi Gras Gala, “Masquerade Under the Stars,” which will be celebrated on campus the evening of May 22. The event honors David E. Harvey Jr., a UST board member, long-time friend and benefactor of the University. This year’s Mardi Gras is co-chaired by current and former UST Presidents and their wives: UST President Dr. Richard and First Lady Melynda Ludwick; Dr. Joseph and Norma McFadden; Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB; and Dr. Robert and Marianne Ivany.

Meet Ahmed and Gaston, who both truly embody bold Celts, who, through student leadership roles, will leave their mark on UST, and through a liberal arts education with a focus on STEM, will leave their mark on the world.

Mr. UST: Youssef Ahmed

Youssef Ahmed ’21 is a senior majoring in cell and molecular biology. He was born and raised in Galveston County. He is “an Egyptian Celt.” After graduating from Clear Lake High School, Ahmed found his UST family in the 2017 Mendenhall Summer Institute. He will attend Baylor College of Medicine in 2021, which is his next step to becoming a physician. His passions include psychology, debate and bodybuilding.

Ahmed as a Student Leader
Ahmed’s list of leadership roles and athletic prowess began in his freshman year and continued throughout his college career. These leadership positions are numerous and include serving as president of the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society as well as captain of the Dodgeball Club, a club sport he founded.

Finding a Home at UST
Ahmed fell in love with the UST campus when he came to tour and felt that the students he met emphasized the focus of a holistic, liberal arts education. He liked that the education seemed to be a nice change of pace for a future STEM-heavy student, reminding him of the interdisciplinary nature of his work and complementing the repetitive hard sciences. After sitting in on a class given by Dr. Shivas Amin in Biology, Ahmed came back to visit with Amin who reassured him that UST offered incredible support for pre-health students through organizations like the Health Professions Advisory Committee, Tri-Beta and more. That personal attention from Dr. Amin, who invited him to the solar eclipse viewing party to celebrate the opening of the Center for Science and Health Professions building, made him feel part of the UST family before classes even began.

Learning to Become his Bold Self
He did not feel bold when arriving at UST, but he “had a newfound willingness to be bold.” His first bold step was to run for Freshman Senator for the Student Government, which he won. From there he found his voice and today he serves as Chief Justice in Senate. “I am bold today because of UST,” he said.

Ms. UST: Margaret Gaston


Margaret Gaston ‘21 is a senior UST nursing student. She is originally from Steubenville, Ohio, where she grew up the sixth of eight children and was homeschooled until she began taking college courses at 16.

Gaston’s Student Leadership Roles
Gaston is passionate about her faith, nursing and the friendships she has been blessed to have formed at UST. During her college career, she has had many student leadership roles including serving as intern for Campus Ministry retreats and now working as a peer minister. She also is the vice president for the UST Chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success.

In her spare time, she loves to hang out on campus, make new friends (preferably while drinking Oolong boba tea) and explore Houston. One of her favorite parts about UST is the solid, tight-knit community of students, faculty and staff who are passionate about being the best that they can be for the betterment of the world.

Boldly Living her Faith
Gaston traveled 1,800 miles to attend UST’s nursing school, and feels “blessed to have a new second home waiting for her here.” She boldly lives her faith and her values and says she has flourished at St. Thomas. She sees herself as a daughter of God, a student, a future nurse, a friend, a peer minister and a Celt.

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