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Member of 1st Peace Corps Cohort at UTEP Returns

The Peace Corps’ promise of overseas travel and adventure excited Arthur Young, a Pennsylvania native who was unsatisfied with his life.

Young had earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1955 from Penn State University, where he was part of ROTC. After serving in the U.S. Air Force and a brief stint with a Kentucky engineering firm, the U.S. Forest Service hired him to design access roads for logging in Helena, Montana.

Young jumped at the chance to join the Peace Corps, which President John F. Kennedy established in March 1961. He said Kennedy’s challenge from the previous year, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” resonated with him.

The revolutionary program’s goal was to spread American good will around the world with an army of U.S. volunteers who would live and work in developing countries. The first order Young received was to report to Texas Western College, now The University of Texas at El Paso, for training in June 1961.

His recalled his time in El Paso as being peaceful and welcoming for the most part. Young, who retired as an engineer in 2001, returned to UTEP recently as part of a reunion tour with Ann, his wife of 52 years. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) nurse.

“(The campus) is beautiful,” he said after a walking tour of the inner campus and a few minutes before a Peace Corps information meeting Sept. 27, 2018, in the Mike Loya Academic Services Building. “There were a lot fewer buildings when I was here, but I still think it’s beautiful. I love it here.”

Kathleen Staudt, Ph.D., professor emerita of political science and a RPCV who served in the Philippines in the late 1960s, introduced the Youngs and asked if they would like to say a few words. Arthur Young obliged, but his wife playfully reminded him that Staudt only requested “a few words.”

That exchange got a laugh from the audience that included several UTEP undergraduates who wanted to learn more about the Peace Corps.

Staudt gave a quick synopsis of the program and offered some tips on how to navigate the UTEP Peace Corps website, and how to prepare for the application process that could take about nine months. She encouraged those interested in applying for the Peace Corps, which serves 62 countries, to have a volunteer background, examples of service learning, and marketable skills. She also told them that UTEP’s Peace Corps office is located on the second floor of the Loya building and staff were ready to assist any applicants. (Send inquiries to

Anna Young told the group that Peace Corps volunteers usually get more out of the experience than they put into it.

Among those in attendance was Rebeca Fierro-Pérez, a senior psychology major who graduated from El Paso’s Riverside High School in 2013. She said she believes that the Peace Corps would enrich her life though service to others.

Fierro-Pérez, who is fluent in English and Spanish and has a working knowledge of French and American Sign Language, said that UTEP has helped prepare her for Peace Corps service by providing her with opportunities to study different cultures and assume leadership roles with student organizations. She has a long list of volunteer credits that stretches back to high school.

She said the recollections of the RPCVs, including the Youngs, made her even more excited to start the application process.

“(They) spoke with great joy about their experience and talked about how it changed their life,” said Fierro-Pérez, who also has studied health disparities in a UTEP research lab.

The Youngs, who live in Gardner, Massachusetts, came to UTEP after participating in an RPCV reunion in Estes Park, Colorado. They also planned to stop at New Mexico State University, where Arthur Young earned his master’s degree in civil engineering in the mid-1960s. The couple also scheduled visits to Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.

Arthur Young remembers staying busy during his two months at UTEP with physical training in the morning, and classes about the language and culture of the cohort’s destination, Tanganyika, which became Tanzania in 1964. He said the technical training would help him to design and construct roads in the east African country, but laughed as he recalled that the cultural information was not as accurate and not as helpful.

Arthur Young was among the first Peace Corps volunteer cohort that trained at Texas Western College, now UTEP, in June 1961. He visited campus in late September 2018. Photo: Daniel Perez/UTEP Communications

Young said that at age 27, he was the oldest of his 44-member all-male cohort, which included trainees with backgrounds as surveyors, geologists and civil engineers. He also was the only one with a car, so when the volunteers had time off, they would load into his 1959 Plymouth and go around El Paso, to Juárez, Mexico, or to regional tourist spots.

The Peace Corps credits the group with being the first to graduate from its training on Aug. 20, 1961. From El Paso, the trainees conducted additional training in Puerto Rico before completing their preparation in Tanganyika.

Arthur Young said his Peace Corps involvement led to his professional success, which included jobs with a large global company and as Gardner’s city engineer for many years. He called the Peace Corps a life-changing experience.

“It opened the door to so many opportunities for me,” he said. “Having the Peace Corps on your resume means a lot. It helped me get a job with an international engineering firm. One of the biggest things I got out of it was the confidence that I could adjust to new situations and try new things.”

He also credited the Peace Corps for helping him meet his future wife, who served as a Peace Corps nurse in Tanganyika. They were married in Tanzania and their witnesses were fellow volunteers.

Today, the Youngs stay busy with travel and volunteerism. Arthur Young is an AARP volunteer who helps others with their income tax forms. He also serves as a trustee at the local library and a helper at a local history museum.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

UTEP’s Heritage House Shines Light on Institution’s Past

With all the hustle and bustle of college life, it is understandable if students, faculty and staff at The University of Texas at El Paso ignore the nondescript two-story, sand-colored stucco building “hidden” in the center of campus. Understandable, but unfortunate.

The building in question is Heritage House, 405 Kerbey Ave. It has served many purposes through the years from home to classroom to gallery. It is a valued depository of artifacts and memorabilia that chronicles and celebrates UTEP’s existence and traditions starting from its days as the State School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1914.

The wall-to-wall displays and special exhibits overseen by UTEP’s Heritage Commission can educate about the campus’ past or elicit warm waves of nostalgia.

For Ramiro Martinez, a retired El Paso pharmacist who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UTEP in 1967, it was a little of both. He found himself sitting in the Heritage Conference Room, the former home’s dining area, lost in the past as he fingered through an old Flowsheet yearbook.

Martinez said he passed the Heritage House as a student, but never gave the building much thought. At that time, the converted home was used for special University projects.

While on campus for 2017 Homecoming activities, someone recommended he visit the house. One hour into his tour, he was having a pseudo-reunion because he found several of his college buddies on the black-and-white pages of the Flowsheet.

“(Heritage House) is very nice,” said Martinez, who was appointed to the Heritage Commission in November 2017 because of his interest. “It’s nice to come back and see how things were. There’s a lot of history here.”

The home houses collections of books, photos, uniforms, sculptures, paintings and assemblies of glassware, jewelry and different incarnations of UTEP mascot Paydirt Pete. The Heritage Commission has an inventory of thousands of artifacts, which includes approximately 2,000 glossy, black-and-white photos of the campus, people on campus and campus activities throughout the years.

Built in 1920, the building served as home to the institution’s first dean, Steve H. Worrell, and his wife, Kathleen. The Worrells deeded the home to the college after they left in 1923. It remained a residence until the 1960s when it was used as a classroom, for special projects, and eventually for facilities services. University President Diana Natalicio approved renovations to the property and turned it over to the Heritage Commission in 1994.

UTEP formally created the 30-member Heritage Commission on Oct. 8, 1980, to preserve the University’s artifacts. The all-volunteer group is made up mostly of retired alumni, faculty and staff. Before Heritage House, members kept memorabilia in their offices and in the basement of the Administration Building.

Commission members inventory donations, respond to research inquiries and set up displays in Heritage House and the glass display case

UTEP’s Heritage Commission, pictured during a spring 2018 meeting near Miner Canyon student housing, oversees the research and displays at Heritage House. Photo: Laura Trejo / UTEP Communications

outside the Tomás Rivera Conference Center on the third floor of Union Building East. They also lead tours mostly for interested alumni and student groups.

The main draw for the hundreds of annual visitors is to learn about the campus’ history, heritage and traditions.

Briane Carter, Heritage Commission chair and former director of UTEP’s University Career Center, did not mince words when discussing the importance of Heritage House.

“If (Heritage House) wasn’t here, the history of UTEP would be lost,” Carter said. “We’re here to preserve that history and allow visitors to rediscover it.”

One of her favorite Heritage House stories involves Tatsumi Morizuka, a retired resident of Kawai-Cho, Japan, who stopped by UTEP during a bus and train tour of the southern United States in 2016.

Morizuka was familiar with California and some Northeastern states, but wanted to experience the Southwest, especially UTEP, which he read about in a Japanese guide book. He praised the campus in general, and was specifically glad to have spent time in Heritage House. He said the photos and exhibits were wonderful ways to familiarize first-time visitors with the University’s history and traditions.

“The time I spent at Heritage House was precious and unique,” Morizuka said in an email interview, adding that he did not know of any similar gallery at a Japanese university. “It is as if I had been transported to a small, fancy land.”

Stephanie Meyers, DMA, professor of music, said the house is a “big hit” with participants of her String Project, a program that offers string instrument instruction to area elementary school students. She said the children are especially fond of the different Paydirt Pete costumes, some of which date back to before their parents were born.

“They see (Heritage House) as a warm, inviting place,” Meyers said. “They love everything about it.”

The C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department in the University Library often collaborates with Heritage House, said Claudia Rivers, director of Special Collections and a de facto member of the Heritage Commission.

The two entities have similar, but different, missions. Whereas Heritage House collects and displays UTEP artifacts, Special Collections is a cache of documents about the University and beyond to include the City of El Paso, the Southwest region and the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We work closely with them,” Rivers said. “They are a wonderful resource. There are a lot of knowledgeable people there who perform a great service for the University.”

Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for alumni relations, praised the Heritage Commission for the countless hours they spend archiving, caring for and displaying the memorabilia, and then educating the public about the University. The commission and Heritage House are supported by UTEP’s Office of Alumni Relations.

“We are so grateful for these dedicated volunteers who have chosen to give back to UTEP in this meaningful way,” Villalva said. “They help us to preserve UTEP’s proud history.”

For more information, visit the Heritage House website.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

Special ‘Mining Minds’ Lighting Celebrates First Day of Classes

The “Mining Minds” pickaxe sculpture at UTEP’s University Avenue roundabout will be illuminated in blue and orange on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, to commemorate the original first day of classes on Monday, Sept. 28, 1914.

Twenty-seven students were enrolled in the first class at the State School of Mines and Metallurgy, now UTEP. They came from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania and Mexico.

“Mining Minds” is an iconic piece of public art installed in 2010 to enhance the campus. At night, orange lights illuminate the steel structure while light from LEDs emanate from the perforated “ones” and “zeroes” at each end of the pick.

On special occasions, including historic dates, major annual milestones and to celebrate special accomplishments, the pick is illuminated in blue and orange. Learn more about the statue and its artist at

Guest Column: 1966 Miners Have More Than Basketball to Showcase

The University of Texas at El Paso will celebrate am important milestone this Saturday when the men’s basketball team faces Western Kentucky University at the Don Haskins Center.

The Miners expect a sell-out crowd to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic game that gave Texas Western College (as UTEP was known in 1966) the title of NCAA Men’s National Basketball Champions.

El Pasoans are familiar with Glory Road, the story of Haskins’ courageous move to start an all African-American team to go up against an all white team from the University of Kentucky in the NCAA Final. The Miners emerged victorious, and the path toward integration in college athletics was set.

It is worthwhile to celebrate Haskins and his team — Willie Cager, Bobby Joe Hill, David Lattin, Willie Worsley, Jerry Armstrong, Nevil Shed, Louis Baudoin, Harry Flournoy, Dick Myers, David Palacio, Togo Railey and Orsten Artis — for the contributions they made to the game and to bringing equity to college athletics.

But it’s also important to give UTEP due credit for being a forward thinking university.

UTEP’s role in providing opportunities to African-American students started well before the 1966 basketball season. In 1955, Texas Western was the first senior college in the state to desegregate when it welcomed 10 black students without any incident.

And although UTEP has always been a leader in educating students from Mexico, it was thanks to the Chicano movement in the early 1970s — including a noted sit-in on the UTEP campus — that Latino students and faculty began to have more influence and representation in U.S. colleges and universities.

EPISD, too has played a critical role in civil rights. In 1955, a forward-thinking school board of El Paso Public Schools was the first in Texas to vote fully desegregate its campuses.

I encourage all of our teachers to take five minutes of their class time to speak to their students about these important events in our local history. It’s important for our new generations to know that the City of El Paso, and the schools that serve it, have for long been at the forefront of equality and equity.

So as we head into the weekend, I invite everyone at EPISD to wear their best orange gear on Friday to show support for the Miners and the historic contributions they made to athletics and academics.

But moreover, I invite us all to reflect on the role UTEP and El Paso as a whole have played in helping us bring equity for all human beings and opportunities for us all to be successful and happy.

Go Miners!

Author: Juan E. Cabrera, Superintendent El Paso ISD


Tickets on sale now for live panel discussion of Miners’ 1966 Championship

Tickets are on sale now for a live panel discussion featuring the 1966 national champion Texas Western Miners on Feb. 5 at Memorial Gym.

Footage from the event will be incorporated into the CBS Sports Network documentary “1966 TEXAS WESTERN: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE.”  The special will air later this winter.

The panel discussion will take place on Feb. 5 from 4-6 p.m., a day before the championship team is honored on its 50th anniversary at UTEP’s home game versus Western Kentucky.

The panel discussion will feature other special guests and will be moderated by journalist and author Jack Ford.

Tickets are $15 and seating is limited at Memorial Gym.  Tickets are available online only by visiting

CBS Sports Network to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of National Title

CBS Sports Network will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Texas Western capturing the historic 1966 national championship with a special, “1966 TEXAS WESTERN: CHAMPIONS OF CHANGE” airing later this winter.

A live panel discussion, which will be incorporated into the special, is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Feb. 5 from4-6 p.m. at Memorial Gym.

The panel discussion will feature members of the 1966 Texas Western championship team, along with special guests and will be moderated by journalist and author Jack Ford.

UTEP basketball season ticket holders will have first access to tickets for the event.  They can purchase tickets via by using a special access code that will be sent via e-mail on Monday (Jan. 18).  Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Thursday, Jan. 21 via only.

Tickets are $15 and seating is limited at Memorial Gym.

shark 728×90
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
STEP 728
Amy’s Ambassadorship
EPHP Spring Training