window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'UA-29484371-30');
Thursday , August 13 2020
john overall 728×90
Emergence June 11 – Sep 11, 2020 728
Covid-19 Fund 728
Utep Football Generic 728
Spring Training 728
Mountains 728
Elizabeth 728
Home | Tag Archives: UTEP Alumni Association

Tag Archives: UTEP Alumni Association

UTEP Alumni Association offers free membership to Alumni

Wednesday afternoon, the University of Texas at El Paso Alumni Association announced that their organization offering free memberships to all UTEP alumni, a shift that opens doors for more than 100,000 Miners throughout the world to stay engaged with their alma mater.

“The new, free membership model provides the association a greater opportunity to serve and build relationships with alumni who have not previously been members,” said Laura Biggs, president of the UTEP Alumni Association.

“This means more alumni will have access to the association’s varying levels of services and programs.”

UTEP Alumni Association members will benefit from membership perks such as discounts at the University Bookstore and for participants in UTEP Professional and Public Programs (P3) courses, as well as access to the UTEP Career Center and the Student Recreation Center. Additional perks include discounts with multiple national retailers such as Jostens and Liberty Mutual.

Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for alumni relations, said the timing of this change is appropriate because it highlights the importance of staying connected.

“The recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – which included social distancing, working from home and finding ways to help our respective communities – have highlighted the importance of personal connections and relationships,” Villalva said.

“The UTEP Alumni Association is that place where our alumni can feel that sense of pride and camaraderie with other Miners.”

Villalva added that while the association is eliminating its paid annual membership model, its lifetime membership category will remain intact. The Alumni Association will continue to offer this paid level of membership to provide a dedicated group of alumni members with the same perks they have come to expect in addition to potential new ones.

Alumni who activate their free membership may upgrade to a lifetime membership.

“Ultimately, the main goal is to increase alumni engagement with UTEP in ways that are meaningful to each person,” Villalva said. “That can mean attending more events, signing up to volunteer, being an alumni mentor or even starting a scholarship fund.”

Individuals who graduated from or attended UTEP are eligible to register for the free Alumni Association Picks Up membership.

UTEP alumni can activate their free Picks Up membership through MinerLink, the official online portal for UTEP alumni, by completing the following steps:

  • Go to
  • Find or create their alumni profile on the platform
  • Activate membership

New UTEP Alumni Association President, Laura Biggs, talks about goals, challenges

Laura E. Biggs, a retired civil employee of the Department of Defense, began her term as president of The University of Texas at El Paso Alumni Association on September 1, 2019.

Biggs earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from UTEP in 1996. She was first named to the UTEP Alumni Association Board of Directors in 2011.

In that time, she has held many positions on the board including Vice President for Chapters and Networks, treasurer and chair of the 2019 Top Ten Seniors Selection Committee.

In her new role, Biggs vows to work with UTEP President Heather Wilson to engage UTEP’s alumni base throughout the world.

Q: You’re taking the helm of the UTEP Alumni Association at a time of transition for UTEP, with a new president. How do you plan on working with the new administration to accomplish your shared goals?

A: The Alumni Association will continue to support and align its goals with those of the mission and vision of the University. We plan to collaborate with Dr. Wilson and her initiatives to further define the role of the UTEP Alumni Association. Alumni engagement will continue to be a high priority as it paves the way to stronger connections and embraces the shared passion for our UTEP education and our community.

Q: You’ve been on the alumni board for almost 10 years. In that time, you must have met with thousands of alums. What are some of the things alumni most frequently discuss with you about UTEP?

A: Topics of discussion have evolved over the years. Most have been on the ever-expanding University and its tremendous growth. Other topics have been on (UTEP President Emerita) Dr. (Diana) Natalicio’s successes, such as gaining greater access for an economically disadvantaged population and achieving the coveted R1 designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.   The University has seen several significant construction and renovation projects to include the Foster Stevens Basketball Center and the public art displays, such as “Mining Minds,” created by Michael Clapper, and the “Esfera Cuántica Tlahtolli” by Mexican artist Sebastián, and the opening of the Bhutanese Lhakhang.

After Dr. Natalicio announced her retirement, the biggest topic of discussion has centered on Dr. Wilson’s vision for UTEP and how will she continue and reinforce the progress established to access and excellence at UTEP.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a Miner?

A:  My favorite thing about being a Miner is the sense of pride, goodwill, bonding and shared beliefs we have about the University. If you are old enough, you can remember the 1966 NCAA men’s basketball championship title; Coach Mike Price leading the Miners to an 8-4 record in his first season as head football coach in 2004 and becoming the second Miner coach to take UTEP to three bowl games. Then, there is the excitement of seeing accomplished alumni leading public and private industries, thrusting UTEP’s name into national headlines.

These accomplishments have brought status and prestige to the University and to El Paso and make me proud to bleed orange and blue.

Q: What do you want all alumni to know about the UTEP Alumni Association?

A: The UTEP Alumni Association is a platform for all alumni to showcase their pride for the University. The association is the avenue to stay informed, engaged, and give back to UTEP.

Q: What kind of legacy do you want to leave as president of the UTEP Alumni Association?

A: I want my legacy to be about giving back to an institution that provided me a great education. I believe that everyone can give back to their University. It doesn’t merely mean giving financial resources, but giving of one’s expertise, talent, experience and passion.  I believe that we all want to leave the world a better place.

Q: Tell us about the board members for this next year.

A: We currently have 23 board members. Our board members represent a broad spectrum of careers and expertise. They represent most of the academic colleges and demographics.

We have lawyers, a retired dean, retired photojournalist, and a retired educator.  We also have a chief operating officer of a medical center and a director of systems technology for a major international financial services group along with a franchisee owner.

This group of individuals brings diversity, passion for UTEP, eagerness to collaborate with the new leadership. The members also represent the age spectrum of what makes up the Alumni Association.

I am extremely grateful to be able to serve with them this coming year. As board president, I am modeling this year with Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s quote: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change. Perspective is everything and when we find a way to look at things differently, we will see endless possibilities.”

 Q: Tell us about your family and how they’ve supported your passion for the Alumni Association.

A:  My late husband, James Biggs, was instrumental with my involvement with the Alumni Association. He invigorated my love for the University by accompanying me and becoming a season-ticket holder for sporting events, even though he wasn’t much of a sports enthusiast.  That led to my involvement with the UTEP Fan Club, then the El Paso Alumni Association Chapter. My family urged me to submit my application for a position on the Alumni Association Board, and here I am, 10 years later, as the President.

I had the honor of having my mother who is 93 years old witness the passing of the gavel from Bonny Schulenberg to me. I am eternally blessed.

UTEP Athletics, UTEP Alumni Association partner for Pickaxe Tailgate Parties

UTEP Athletics and the UTEP Alumni Association have renewed their partnership to bring back a re-branded and re-imagined tailgate experience for Miner fans prior to every 2019 UTEP football home game.

“With football season right around the corner, we are thrilled to once again partner with UTEP Athletics for the UTEP Alumni/Athletics Tailgates,” said Maribel Villalva, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations.

“These tailgates, newly rebranded as the ‘Pickaxe Tailgate Parties,’ continue to grow every year and are easily the biggest UTEP tailgates in El Paso. We love that we can host Miner fans, families, students and our proud alumni on Kidd Field, just steps away from Sun Bowl Stadium. Our tailgates are a great way to engage the UTEP community and celebrate the Miner Spirit that unites us. We invite everyone to begin their football game experience with us on Kidd Field. We’ll provide the food and the entertainment. You just need to bring the Miner Pride.”

The relaunched “Pickaxe Tailgate Parties” will be held three and a half hours prior to kickoff (2:30 p.m.) on Kidd Field for the 6 p.m. home games, beginning on Aug. 31 before the Miners take the field to battle Houston Baptist in their season opener.

The “Pickaxe Tailgate Parties” will take place three hours prior to kickoff (10 a.m.) on Kidd Field for the Miners’ 1 p.m. November home games.

“We’re excited about collaborating with the UTEP Alumni Association this fall to provide a premier tailgating experience for all Miner fans,” said Director of Athletics Jim Senter. “The ‘Pickaxe Tailgate Parties’ provide the perfect opportunity to have a great time with your friends and family while getting fired up for every UTEP home game!”

Fans can enjoy a hearty catered meal, soft drinks, two beers, entertainment and a pep rally. Beer is available for patrons 21 years of age and older, and wine will be sold separately.

The “Pickaxe Tailgate Parties” offer enjoyment for the whole family, including a Mini-Miners play area for youth and a cash bar for adults.

Tailgate packages are on sale online through Aug. 28 and in-person through Aug. 31. Season prices are $70 for students/youth (5-20 years old), $80 for UTEP Alumni Association/Miner Athletic Club members, and $90 for the general public.

Fans who purchase the season package will receive a 2019 tailgate t-shirt. Single-game tailgate tickets are $20. Pre-purchased tickets are highly encouraged.

On-site tickets are not guaranteed and will be limited to the first 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets for the Homecoming tailgate (Oct. 5) will not be available on-site.

Football game tickets are not included, but are available for purchase by calling (915) 747-6150. For more information on the Pickaxe Tailgate Parties, please call (915) 747-8600, email or visit the tailgate website.

UTEP Announces 2018 Distinguished Alumni, Gold Nuggets

Every year, The University of Texas at El Paso and the UTEP Alumni Association honor a group of alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen fields and serve as pillars of inspiration to future Miners for what can be accomplished through integrity, dedication and determination.

This group of outstanding graduates includes the UTEP Distinguished Alumni and the Gold Nuggets.

“We are proud to honor this year’s Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget Award recipients, whose inspiring personal journeys and professional achievements are truly exceptional,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “These highly successful individuals embody our Miner spirit and serve as examples to our students of what can be accomplished through an excellent education, high aspirations and the drive and perseverance to achieve them.”

“UTEP alumni are living amazing lives, and they are doing a remarkable job of showcasing their alma mater,” said Maribel Villalva, UTEP assistant vice president for alumni relations. “This is evident in the group of alumni honorees who have been selected as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nuggets.”

The Distinguished Alumni award is the highest recognition bestowed upon alumni of the University.

The 2018 awardees will be officially recognized during UTEP’s 2018 Homecoming Week, Sept. 30 – Oct. 6, and will be showcased at the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5 at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni are:

Crystal Long

MBA, 2014

Crystal Long is a first-generation college graduate who currently serves as president and CEO of GECU, the largest locally owned financial institution in El Paso.

Long was born in Lubbock, Texas and moved to El Paso with her family when she was eight years old. She began her career at GECU as an entry-level file clerk in 1979. Later, Long pursued higher education to advance her career and worked toward a college degree while maintaining a full-time job and raising a family. Her persistence paid off when she received her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and later an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

Long progressively moved up the ranks at GECU to a teller, supervisor, manager, and vice president. Already a top leader at her institution, her desire to keep learning and growing professionally wasn’t satiated. In 2011, she became a proud Miner when she joined The University of Texas at El Paso’s Executive MBA Program (EMBA).

Long says she is humbled and honored to be recognized as a Distinguished Alumna, a recognition she feels should be shared with her family, friends, colleagues and community members, who all have been part of her journey.

“Having become a UTEP graduate, I believe I’m better positioned to advocate for the value of a college education in the workplace and am proud that, through my example, others have chosen to attend college,” Long said. “You simply can’t help but be changed by exposure to new concepts, people and perspectives. I am very grateful for that.”

Karla Martinez

B.A. Electronic Media/Communication, 1998

Karla Martinez is the co-host of Univision’s highly rated national live morning show, “Despierta America.” While a student at The University of Texas at El Paso, the Chihuahua native got her start in broadcasting at KINT-FM (Channel 26), Univision’s affiliate station in El Paso. In 1995, the young reporter was scouted by the Univision Network, becoming a Texas correspondent for the national newsmagazine “Primer Impacto.” Later she served as a reporter for the network’s top entertainment news show, “El Gordo y la Flaca,” and host of Univision’s popular youth-oriented lifestyle program, “Control.”

In addition to her role with “Despierta America,” Martinez has co-hosted numerous Univision specials and in 2013 co-hosted ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “The View” alongside one of her role models, Barbara Walters. She has been named one of People en Español’s 25 Most Beautiful People and 25 Most Powerful Women, and one of Vogue Mexico and Latin America magazine’s 2018 100 Most Influential People.

Recently, Martinez added Emmy award winner to her list of accomplishments when “Despierta America” won an Emmy for Outstanding Morning Program in Spanish. She also has authored “El Poder de Una Sonrisa” (The Power of a Smile), a book focused on ways to overcome life’s bad moments.

“I am an example of a dreamer and am happy to be able to represent UTEP students with my story,” Martinez said of her recognition as a Distinguished Alumna. “This is a recognition for all of them. Being an immigrant makes me feel so proud to be recognized for not only what I accomplished but the example I leave others; showing them that anything, no matter where you come from, your story or past, anything is possible.”

The Distinguished Alumni join another group of alumni who are being honored by their respective colleges – the 2018 Gold Nugget Award recipients.

The honorees are exceptional graduates from each of the University’s colleges and schools who have excelled in their professions, give back to their communities and alma mater, and serve as an inspiration for future generations of Miners.

UTEP’s 2018 Gold Nugget Award recipients are:

Sam Armijo, Ph.D.

College of Engineering

B.S. Metallurgical/Materials Engineering, 1959

Sam Armijo, Ph.D., is currently president of JSA Associates Inc., a nuclear systems and engineering consulting firm advising the Electric Power Research Institute and the Exelon Corporation. He is also chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s International Experts Group, which provides technical advice on the decommissioning of the Fukushima nuclear site.

Orlando Bejarano

College of Health Sciences

B.S. Occupational Therapy, 1998

Orlando Bejarano is the owner of Focus Therapy in the greater Houston area. His company employs about 40 therapists across physical therapy, speech language pathology and occupational therapy and provides services more than 600 times a week to a mostly geriatric population.

Peter Chan

College of Engineering

B.S. Civil Engineering, 1989 / M.S. Civil Engineering, 1990

Peter Chan is the founder of Professional Concepts, a multi-faceted real estate company. In addition to his professional activities, Chan has served as a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Arizona, and as a volunteer for St. Vincent de Paul and Boy Scouts of America. He is currently serving on the Development Board of UTEP’s Asset Management and Development arm.

Annie L. Garcia

School of Nursing

MSN Nursing Systems Management, 2013

A year after completing her graduate degree in 2013, Annie Garcia was hired as the chief nursing officer at Methodist Texsan Hospital in San Antonio, where she was instrumental in the hospital’s efforts to improve nursing engagement, patient experience and quality outcomes. In 2017, she was named chief nursing officer at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso.

Ruth Ellen Jacobson

College of Education

B.S. Elementary Education, 1970

Ruth Ellen Jacobson is the executive director of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra. She has developed youth-focused educational initiatives such as “Tocando,” an after-school program that supports children experiencing challenging social and economic conditions.

Christina I. Paz, DNP

School of Nursing

DNP, 2013

Christina Ilene Paz, DNP, is the chief operating officer at Centro San Vicente Family Health Center in El Paso. As a member of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, she has met with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of community health centers and the vulnerable populations they serve.

Felipa Solis

College of Liberal Arts

B.A. English Literature, 1983

Felipa Solis has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, public relations specialist and community advocate. She currently serves as executive director of El Paso Pro-Musica. Among her numerous honors are the LULAC Humanitarian of the Year Award, the YWCA Reach Award and the Ruben Salazar Journalism Award.

Brig. Gen. Michael Talley

College of Liberal Arts

B.A. History, 1991

Brig. Gen. Michael Talley is a Minnesota native who said his decision to leave active duty to pursue a bachelor’s degree at The University of Texas at El Paso put him on a path to become a brigadier general and command surgeon with the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is the chief medical adviser to more than 800,000 soldiers and civilians.

Joe D. Wardy

College of Business Administration

BBA Finance, 1976

After graduating from UTEP, Joe D. Wardy had a 25-year career in transportation and logistics before he entered politics in 2003. He has held leadership roles with several companies and served as mayor of the City of El Paso from 2003-05. During his tenure as mayor, Wardy oversaw El Paso’s move to a city manager form of government and passage of a $110 million bond issue.

Richard Westbrook, M.D.

College of Science

B.S. Biological Sciences, 1970

 Richard Westbrook, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Surgeons Associates in El Paso. He received his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and completed his residencies in orthopedic surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle and at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Spokane, Washington. He is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

UTEP Seeks Nominations for Prestigious Alumni Awards

The UTEP Alumni Association and the Office of Alumni Relations are now accepting nominations for the prestigious Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget awards.

These awards are presented to UTEP alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professions and lives by giving back to their communities and alma mater, and who serve as an inspiration to future generations of Miners.

As part of this longstanding tradition, the selected honorees will be invited to this year’s Homecoming festivities and will be asked to participate in a number of activities, including: celebratory receptions, the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner, the Homecoming Tailgate and game, as well as other events on campus.

Those who submit a nomination should consider a deserving Miner who exemplifies the UTEP spirit; who has become successful in his or her field; and is doing great things, both professionally and personally.

The Gold Nugget Award is given to an individual by each college. The Distinguished Alumni award winner represents the entire University.

For additional information about the nomination process, please call 915-747-6361. To download the nomination forms, visit the UTEP Alumni website.

The nomination deadline is Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

UTEP Seeks Nominations for Prestigious Alumni Awards

The UTEP Alumni Association and the Office of Alumni Relations are now accepting nominations for the prestigious Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget awards.

These awards are presented to University of Texas at El Paso alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professions and lives by giving back to their communities and alma mater, and who serve as an inspiration for future generations of Miners.

As part of this long-standing tradition, the selected honorees will be invited to this year’s Homecoming festivities and will be asked to participate in a number of activities, including: celebratory receptions, the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner, the Homecoming Parade and the Homecoming Game.

Nominees should exemplify the UTEP spirit; be successful in their field; and be doing great things, both professionally and personally.

For additional information about the nomination process, please call 915-747-6361. To download the nomination forms, visit the UTEP Alumni website

The nomination deadline is Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.

john overall 728×90
Spring Training 728
Elizabeth 728
Mountains 728
Utep Football Generic 728
Get Shift Done 728
Covid-19 Fund 728
Emergence June 11 – Sep 11, 2020 728