WT Instructor, SBDC Director Win Regional Honors 

Chip Chandler

Leslie Hinojosa and Gina Woodward. Photo by WTAMU Communication and Marketing

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124, [email protected]  


CANYON, Texas — A West Texas A&M University instructor and a staff member recently were honored by community organizations for their outstanding work. 

Leslie Hinojosa, a 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. 

“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 award was part of Los Barrios’ 50th anniversary and awards celebration Oct. 14. 

“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. 

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. 

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 a normal year, Woodward and her team are an immense resource for businesses in the Texas Panhandle. But because of the impacts of Covid-19, they became a lifeline – connecting business owners to necessary resources and helping them navigate ever-changing mandates, rules and policies.  

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 High Ground of Texas is a marketing coalition made up of over 75 members with economic development interests in the region. Developed in 1988, the High Ground represents cities, counties and organizations in the West Texas region 

Recruiting and retaining excellent faculty and staff is a key principle of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. 


About West Texas A&M University 

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.


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