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UTEP Announces 2019 Distinguished Alumni, Gold Nuggets

On Monday, the University of Texas at El Paso and the UTEP Alumni Association announced the recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget honors.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni honorees exemplify the talent and drive that was cultivated here at UTEP,” said Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for alumni relations. “Each of these individuals, whether it was on their own or as part of a dedicated team, has gone on to represent UTEP at the highest levels and they each credit the University for giving them the foundation and the opportunities to be successful.”

Every year, UTEP honors 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 are the UTEP Distinguished Alumni and the Gold Nuggets.

The Distinguished Alumni award honor a group of men and women whose achievements stand out as monuments to dedication, integrity and hard work and is the highest recognition bestowed upon alumni of the University.

UTEP’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni are:

Roberto Coronado Business Gold Nugget for 2019 Homecoming, Monday, May 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications

Roberto Coronado, Ph.D.
BBA Accounting and Economics, 2000
M.S. Economics, 2002

Roberto Coronado, Ph.D., currently serves as senior vice president in charge and senior economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, El Paso Branch.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics, Coronado eagerly returned to UTEP to pursue his master’s degree in economics. Shortly into his graduate program, he landed an internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, El Paso Branch. What began as a temporary, unpaid position led to an 18-year career. The young, ambitious economist continued his education at the University of Houston, where he earned his doctorate in economics, which helped him ascend the organization’s ranks.

Today, Coronado oversees the bank’s economic research and outreach functions in West Texas and Southern New Mexico, and recruits branch board members.

“UTEP was very welcoming and offers a lot of support to students like me,” Coronado said. “If you are determined that you want to be successful, UTEP provides the resources to make it happen. Trust me, if I could do it, you can do it.”

Miguel Fernandez
Rodrigo Fernandez

Miguel Fernandez Jr.

BBA, 1998

Rodrigo Fernandez

BBA, 2001

Miguel Fernandez Jr. and Rodrigo Fernandez are brothers from the Paso del Norte Region who co-founded a telecommunications network with three other people to provide communication services in previously underserved communities in Mexico. It evolved into a business that employs hundreds and created a fiber-optic network that spans approximately 8,000 route miles.

In 2001, the two collaborated to create Transtelco, a telecommunications service provider that covers the United States and Mexico and provides voice and data services to Fortune 1000 companies and other businesses. Its coverage area stretches from Los Angeles and Dallas in the United States to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, at the southern tip of Mexico.

“Students need to have their eyes open and realize there are a lot of opportunities, and the people who are able to leverage that are the people who understand what the border is about,” Rodrigo Fernandez said. “That was me.”

Andrea C. Gates-Ingle
B.A. Special Education, 1999

Stephen Ingle

B.A. Graphic Design, 2003

Creative Kids, a nonprofit organization established 20 years ago, began as a labor of love for Stephen Ingle and his then girlfriend, now wife, Andrea C. Gates-Ingle who met while attending UTEP.

Creative Kids has grown since then. The nonprofit has earned national recognition for providing a high-quality creative youth development program that utilizes the visual arts to empower children with cognitive or physical disabilities, children battling illness, underserved children or just those with an artistic knack.

As for receiving the UTEP Distinguished Alumni Award, the pair said they were humbled and proud of the recognition.

“It is amazing for someone to see what we’ve done and recognize it,” Ingle said. “This is something that we will really cherish and carry as an accomplishment. We have won awards from the city and other recognitions, but this award is from our school, where we learned to do what we do. Getting this award makes it all worth it and we are proud to be part of the UTEP legacy.”

Curtis Parkin, Ph.D.
B.S. Physics, 1963

The U.S. Army allowed Curtis Parkin, Ph.D. who also was in Texas Western College’s Army ROTC program, to delay his active duty service in order to study nuclear and radiation physics at  Vanderbilt University’s U.S. Atomic Energy Commission postgraduate fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee where he then earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in experimental plasma physics.

In 1968, the Army assigned Parkin to active duty at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He applied his studies to work on magnetometers, equipment that would measure magnetic fields on the moon’s surface for the second manned mission to land on the lunar surface, Apollo 12.

Parkin said the success of the magnetometer on Apollo 12 led to funds for four additional magnetometers for the Apollo 14, 15 and 16 missions. He became co-investigator for each project.

He separated from NASA in 1979 and continued to work in related fields in California until he retired in 2015. To this day, Parkin maintains contact with several members of the UTEP fraternity who helped him on his celestial career path.

“One thing I’ll be saying to other students, ‘Study hard and don’t neglect your friends and your connections at the University because they can be helpful for the rest of your life,’” Parkin said.

The Distinguished Alumni join another group of alumni who are being honored by their respective colleges – the 2019 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.

“Our 2019 Gold Nugget Award recipients are all contributing to a better world as leaders of nonprofit organizations, health care professionals, businessmen, engineers, data scientists and symphony conductors,” Villalva said. “These individuals were all selected for what they represent – UTEP at its best.”

UTEP’s 2019 Gold Nugget Award recipients are:

Salvador Balcorta

College of Health Sciences

Bachelor of Social Work, 1980

Salvador Balcorta has served as the CEO of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe since 1992. He transformed the neighborhood health center in South El Paso into a nationally recognized network of nonprofit community health clinics, health and human service programs, and a dual-language charter school.

Balcorta’s many accolades include Mexico’s prestigious Ohtli Award and the National Association of Social Workers’ Lifetime Achievement Award. He also was appointed to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Advisory Committee on Minority Health.

“UTEP taught me the value of hands-on knowledge,” Balcorta said. “Your life and field experience is something that is just as valuable, if not more so, than book knowledge.”

Paul Dipp

College of Business Administration

BBA Real Estate and Management, 1977

El Paso native, Paul Dipp, president of Economy Wholesale Grocers, credited UTEP’s supportive and engaged faculty with his success. He has shown his gratitude through his involvement in the UTEP Centennial Committee, COBA’s Business Advisory Council and as a lifetime member of UTEP’s Alumni Association.

Dipp juggled academics with his responsibilities with two family-owned businesses. The double major – real estate and marketing – said he applied what he learned in class to his jobs in commercial real estate and as a wholesale grocer.

“I have the opportunity to represent all the COBA graduates, and I’m profoundly grateful and humbled to represent UTEP,” Dipp said.

Carolyn Moody Drake 

School of Nursing

BSN, 1975

For decades, Carolyn Moody Drake has served her community as an RN, then as a volunteer.

Among a wide range of community service, Moody Drake has focused much of her energy on the PARTNERS organization, which supports The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Cizik School of Nursing by raising funds for nursing scholarships and faculty research grants. She was the chair of PARTNERS in 2012-’13 and continues active involvement as a lifetime member.

A popular presenter on health care topics, Moody Drake ebulliently shares her knowledge and passion about nursing with others. She also drives, cooks and opens her home for those in need – most recently in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey flooding in 2017 in southeast Texas.

A lifetime member of the UTEP Alumni Association, Moody Drake said: “UTEP taught me to value a high-quality education in a multicultural environment, and it solidified an ideology based on caring and kindness.”

Ed Drusina Engineering Gold Nugget Head Shot, Friday, May 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/UTEP Communications

Edward Drusina
College of Engineering
B.S. Civil Engineering, 1974

Edward Drusina is highly respected for his accomplishments in engineering and water supply management. The former commissioner of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission led the development of critical international water management agreements between the U.S. and Mexico from San Diego, Calif. to Brownsville, Texas. These agreements continue to help border agriculture, industry and municipalities to have access to clean water.

Recently, Drusina retired from federal service. He stays engaged in his profession as a UTEP adviser, Texas A&M Research Center adviser, and part-time senior project engineer for Weston Solutions, an environmental and infrastructure support services company.

“UTEP gave me the education I needed to have a highly successful career in the public and private sectors,” Drusina said. “I’m thankful to represent an institution that contributes so much to our community.”

D. Frank Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Science
M.S. Mathematics, 1975

D. Frank Hsu, Ph.D., is internationally recognized as a leading pioneer of data science research and education.

Hsu is the Clavius Distinguished Professor of Science, a professor of computer and information science, and the director of the Fordham Laboratory of Informatics and Data Mining at Fordham University in New York. In that role, he has helped develop solutions to real-world problems by harnessing the power of data science, machine learning, cognitive computing, informatics, and model fusion.

Throughout his career, Hsu has authored or edited 40 books and published more than 200 technical papers. He received a Distinguished Teaching Award from Fordham in 2001 and an IBM Faculty Award in 2012, among other honors. He holds a doctorate from the University of Michigan,

“My experience at UTEP has impacted my life and career tremendously,” Hsu said. “I am proud and passionate about being a Miner and look forward to sharing my experiences and expertise with students and alumni of UTEP.”

Maggie Morales-Moody
College of Education
B.S. Elementary Education, 1986
M.Ed. Educational Administration, 1994
College of Liberal Arts
B.A. French, 1985

As an elementary-level educator, counselor and administrator for 28 years, Maggie Morales-Moody earned recognition at the campus and state levels for her efforts to serve underrepresented students with unconditional dedication. She may now be retired, but her devotion hasn’t wavered.

In 2015, Morales-Moody, with the assistance of family, friends and donors, opened GiGi’s Playhouse El Paso, the state’s first achievement center for people with Down syndrome and their families. The playhouse is part of a national network that offers free educational, therapeutic, career and social programs.

“They took personal interest in each one of their students and encouraged us to look at each child as an individual, full of promise and hope,” Morales-Moody said.

Claudio Ordaz

College of Liberal Arts

B.A. Music Performance, 2001

Chihuahua City native, Claudio Ordaz traveled to El Paso on Saturdays as a teenager to study violin from the legendary Abraham Chavez. When it came time for college, he picked UTEP to continue to train under Chavez, a longtime professor of music.

He earned a B.A. in Music Performance in 2001 from UTEP, and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in orchestral conducting in 2008 and 2015, respectively, from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallin, Estonia, a country in Northern Europe next to the Baltic Sea.

In 2013, he founded the Savonlinna Camerata Orchestra in Finland. He serves as the group’s artistic director and conductor. He was the first Mexican to start and conduct an orchestra in Europe. The award-winning chamber orchestra has earned regional acclaim.

Ordaz currently lives in Jyväskylä, Finland, and is a professor of music at the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences, where he teaches chamber music, violin and orchestral activities.

“My time at UTEP was one of the most extraordinary and inspiring of my life. Every day was special and exciting.”

Lisa Lavigne Saucedo  

College of Business Administration

MBA, 2015

New England native, Lisa Lavigne Saucedo is the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates Inc., or CASA, an agency that provides advocacy for abused and neglected children in the family court system.

Saucedo pursued UTEP’s Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) to enhance her leadership skills and build on the business acumen required to run a nonprofit which she already had years of managerial experience before transitioning to the executive director.

Saucedo said she was surprised and humbled to be named one of UTEP’s Gold Nuggets. She credits her time at UTEP with bolstering her leadership skills alongside a diverse cohort.

“Pursuing this degree really instills confidence and brings out your best attributes,” Saucedo said. “It teaches you to think differently about everything, and that the work that we do, from a multimillion-dollar company to a local nonprofit, can make a difference in the world.”

Patricia “Patty” Tiscareño
College of Liberal Arts
B.A. English Literature, 2004

Patricia “Patty” Tiscareño is currently the executive director of the Rio Grande Cancer Foundation. The El Paso native said her duties demand the ability to communicate with board members one minute and patients from all demographics the next. She could follow those conversations with an analysis of her $13 million budget and a creative summit to discuss a future fundraiser or program development.

Others have recognized her abilities and sought her presence on numerous health, academic and community boards. Tiscareño has earned various awards through the years to include the 2016 Woman of Impact Award and her induction in 2018 into the El Paso Commission for Women Hall of Fame.

“My interactions with UTEP always positively impact my life,” Tiscareño said.

Dorothy Truax
College of Liberal Arts
B.A. Sociology, 1973

As a social worker for more than 30 years, Dorothy Truax has helped people of all ages and different backgrounds improve their lives.

Truax has served as director of social services at the Opportunity Center since 2014, and as director of the Reynolds Home, a homeless shelter for women and children, since 2006. She received a sociology degree from UTEP in 1973 and a master’s degree in social work from New Mexico State University in 2004. She has mentored nearly 30 undergraduate and graduate social work students at UTEP.

“In social work there is always something new, a new challenge every day,” Truax said. “So as long as you enjoy what you do, it is not a job. It’s something you love.”

The 2019 awardees will be officially recognized during UTEP’s 2019 Homecoming Week, Sept. 29 – Oct. 5, and will be showcased at the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP Announces 2017 Gold Nugget Award Recipients

The University of Texas at El Paso and the UTEP Alumni Association announced the 2017 Gold Nugget recipients Friday morning.

“The Gold Nugget Award is presented by each college to individuals who have excelled in their field and serve as proud ambassadors of UTEP, wherever they go,” said Maribel Villalva, UTEP assistant vice president for alumni relations. “This year’s group of Gold Nugget recipients are wonderful examples of that Miner spirit and are all role models who have remained engaged with their alma mater. They include: an Olympic athlete and beloved El Paso coach; a familiar face who gives El Paso’s news on a daily basis; an IT professional now making his mark in New York City; and an engineer who helped design much of El Paso’s infrastructure, just to name a few. Their talent is boundless.

“These Miners symbolize the UTEP spirit and are shining examples of success for our current students. We look forward to hosting this amazing group of alumni on campus during Homecoming Week and honoring them at the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner.”

For over 30 years, the University has recognized exceptional graduates from each of its colleges and schools who have excelled in their professions, given back to their communities and alma mater, and serve as an inspiration for future generations of Miners.

These Gold Nuggets will be officially recognized during UTEP’s 2017 Homecoming events Oct. 1-7.

The Distinguished Alumni Dinner also will recognize the 2017 Distinguished Alumni, who will receive the University’s highest honor bestowed upon exceptional alumni. Their names will be announced in July 2017.

The 2017 Gold Nugget Award recipients are:

Manuel_F._AguileraManuel F. Aguilera

B.S. Civil Engineering, 1964

College of Engineering

Manuel F. Aguilera’s successful nearly four-decade career with the Texas Department of Transportation included helping develop and design many of the traffic signals and standards that are in use across El Paso and are now standards in Texas. Aguilera also helped design El Paso’s “Spaghetti Bowl” interchange at I-10 and U.S. 54, the Patriot Freeway and the new Tornillo Exchange, which now carries his name, Aguilera International Highway.

Russell_R._BroaddusRussell Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D.

B.S. Microbiology, 1987

College of Science

Russell Broaddus, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of pathology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His research is focused on the molecular pathogenesis of endometrial cancer, the most common gynecological cancer in women. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and his research findings have been incorporated into clinical patient care. He is a two-time recipient of the prestigious John P. McGovern Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Estela_CasasEstela Casas

B.A. Communication Studies, 2005

College of Liberal Arts                     

Estela Casas has been one of El Paso’s finest broadcast journalists for more than 30 years. She has been a news anchor at KVIA-TV since 1993. Casas has interviewed President Barack Obama at the White House, covered two Papal visits to Mexico, and has been a strong advocate for women’s and children’s health issues. She was inducted into the El Paso Women’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Denise_Castillo-RhodesDenise Castillo-Rhodes

BBA Accounting, 1982

College of Business Administration

Denise Castillo-Rhodes is executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Houston-based Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world. She is responsible for finance, billing, accounting, collections, procurement and tax compliance.

Erik_CazaresErik Cazares

B.S. Nursing, 2000

School of Nursing

Erik Cazares is the chief nursing officer at The Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus in El Paso. He mentors young hospital leaders and nurses. He is recognized as someone who is articulate, inspirational and a role model. He is a national voice for his profession in nursing organizations.

Photo courtesy EP Times/UTEP
Photo courtesy EP Times/UTEP

James Ricardo “Jim” Forbes

B.S. Secondary Education, 1979

College of Education

James Ricardo “Jim” Forbes is one of the most successful high school basketball coaches in Texas. In February 2017, Forbes, the head basketball coach at Andress High School, won his 600th game in his 33-year career. A former Olympian, Forbes served as a UTEP assistant coach from 1981-84. He was inducted into the UTEP Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.

Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Miguel A. Gamiño, Jr.

BBA Accounting and Computer Information Systems, 1999

College of Business Administration

Miguel A. Gamiño, Jr. is chief technology officer for the City of New York. Among his duties are to develop a Smart City strategy that will ensure coordination, collaboration and innovation across one of the world’s largest cities. He has also worked as the chief information officer for the city of San Francisco, California, and founded El Paso technology companies Varay Systems LLC and Sonisa LLC.

Sylvia_HoppSylvia Hopp

B.S. Elementary Education, 1975; M.Ed. Educational Administration, 1982

College of Education

As the superintendent of the San Elizario Independent School District for five years, Sylvia Hopp was responsible for the education of 3,900 students in one of the poorest districts in Texas. In 2015, Hopp was recognized with the Region 19 Superintendent of the Year award and was one of five finalists for Texas Superintendent of the Year. After 42 years in education and administration, Hopp will retire in June 2017.

Sandra_TerrazasSandra G. Terrazas

M.S. Kinesiology, 2005

College of Health Sciences

Sandra G. Terrazas is the founder and owner of Spectrum Therapy Consultants in El Paso. She manages her business’s four locations, mentors interns and interacts with patients. She also is an adjunct physical therapy professor at UTEP, El Paso Community College and Western Technical College.

UTEP Alumni form ‘Glory Road Boys’ Basketball Team; Need Fan Votes to Make $2m Nat’l Tourney

Several well-known Miners have formed an alumni basketball team and, with the support and votes from UTEP fans, hope to make a national tournament that pays the winners $2million for the win.

The team, known as the ‘Glory Road Boys’, is made up of five former players: Omar Duran, Earvin Morris, Brent Murphy, Ioana Tofi and Jason Williams.  The team is looking to make the The Basketball Tournament (TBT), a national basketball tournament to be held this summer, similar in structure to the NCAA’s annual college basketball tournament.

The main difference, according to the TBT website, is 64 teams (with 16 in each region) are either selected based on their fan vote totals or play their way into the tournament.

The top nine (9) vote-getters in each region as of June 1 @ 12p ET get in automatically. Six (6) additional teams in each region will be chosen at-large.

The final team in each region will play-in through the TBT Jamboree in Philadelphia, set for June 17th and 18th.

The winner-take-all $2 million purse is divided among the team, their coach, a booster, a top fan and 99 other fans who voted their team into the 64-team tournament.

The bio for the ‘Glory Road Boys’ reads as follows:

“We are very excited for the opportunity to represent our University and the great city of El Paso. Our identity comes primarily from our school’s great basketball tradition. The fact that UTEP is the only school from Texas to win a National Championship is astonishing considering all the great Universities and tradition of great players from Texas. Also for the fact that the Disney movie Glory Road demonstrated how the 1966 team broke color barriers and changed basketball is very appealing to some who might not know the story behind it. We also have a strong competitive players that are elite on their teams overseas and want to represent a great basketball alumni group of UTEP.”—Omar Duran, GM

Should the team get the required number of fans signed up and voting, the team would be part of the West Region.  To sign up to vote and support the team, click HERE.

UTEP Announces 2016 Distinguished Alumni & Gold Nuggets

Every year, The University of Texas at El Paso and the UTEP Alumni Association honor a group of men and women whose achievements stand out as monuments to dedication, integrity and hard work – they are the UTEP Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget Award recipients.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni have made an impact as a successful entrepreneur, a noted anesthesiologist and an award-winning historian,” said Maribel Villalva, UTEP assistant vice president for alumni relations. “Similarly, our Gold Nuggets range from K-12 and higher education leaders to nationally recognized performers, business leaders and health professionals.

“These former Miners are wonderful examples of the UTEP spirit and the drive to succeed. They were once proud students at UTEP and, upon graduation, went out and made their mark on the world. They continue to make a difference in the lives of others and they remain true Miners every step of the way. We are proud to honor these very deserving and inspiring individuals and look forward to welcoming them back home.”

The 2016 awardees will be officially recognized during UTEP’s 2016 Homecoming Week, Oct. 23-29.

The Distinguished Alumni award is the highest recognition bestowed upon alumni of the University. The 2016 Distinguished Alumni are:

Eric J.C. Chan | BBA Accounting, 1978

Eric J.C. Chan is the founder or co-founder of four companies in Hong Kong and China, including one that sells American rice in Hong Kong and another that deploys a citywide free wireless mesh network in Guangzhou City, China, by turning moving vehicles like taxis, buses and trams into hotspots.

Chan was born in Vientiane, Laos and grew up in Hong Kong. In 1973, he left Hong Kong to attend Riverside High School in El Paso through an international exchange program. After graduation, he decided to stay and attend UTEP.

Chan credits his UTEP education as the foundation for his success in business.

“I treasure my education from UTEP,” Chan said. “It taught me the basic fundamentals to be an entrepreneur and taught me to develop a sense of completeness. It has definitely broadened my mind and taught me new approaches to analytically think through problems and define predicaments.”

Catalina E. García, M.D. | B.S. Biological Sciences, 1961

Catalina E. García’s success story is a testament to the American dream. Her grandparents came to El Paso with only what they could carry from Chihuahua, Mexico, to escape the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. García’s parents – a mechanic and a seamstress – settled in a housing project in the segundo barrio neighborhood in south El Paso, where García grew up as the oldest of six siblings.

Today, García, M.D., is a highly regarded anesthesiologist with Dallas Anesthesiology Group, P.A., as well as a mentor and advocate for education and women’s issues, particularly those of Latina women.

The success García enjoys today did not always come easy. The newly married medical student faced adversity as a Mexican-American woman when discrimination was common in the United States, as well as the added challenges of adjusting to marriage and homesickness after leaving her hometown to attend medical school in Dallas.

“Failure is a very good teacher; a painful teacher, but a good one,” García said. “I didn’t do well in medical school the first time. I had a difficult time, but I grew up, got back on track and convinced the medical school administration to give me a second chance. From that point on, I just ignored the outside world and people who didn’t like me and worked like the dickens to get the job done.”

Mario T. García, Ph.D. | B.A. History, 1966; / M.A. History, 1968

Mario T. García is an El Paso native whose history professors at Texas Western College, now UTEP, inspired him on his path to become a distinguished university history professor, historian, researcher, author and trailblazer for Chicano studies.

“I particularly enjoyed courses with Professor Wayne Fuller on late 19th and early 20th century American history,” Garciá said. “My professors were all very dedicated to their work. Seeing how they were excited about history added to my own excitement.”

During García’s senior year at TWC, he thought, “I can do that!” while listening to one of Fuller’s enjoyable lectures. He started on the path to become a college professor, earning a master’s degree in history from UTEP and a doctoral degree in history from the University of California, San Diego where he assisted in the development of the Chicano studies program.

García has written numerous books and biographies on Chicano history, received awards and fellowships for his teaching and research including the distinguished Guggenheim Fellowship, and served as history and American studies professor and director of ethnic studies for Yale University from 1990-92.

He is currently a distinguished professor of history and Chicano studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, were he has remained a faculty member for 41 years.

The 2016 Gold Nugget Award recipients are:

Armando Aguirre, Ed.D. | College of Education

B.S. Education, 1985 / M.Ed. Educational Administration, 1989 / Ed.D. Educational Leadership and Administration, 2004

Since 2014, Armando Aguirre, Ed.D., has been executive director of Education Service Center-Region 19, an organization that assists area teachers and administrators to better serve students. Aguirre earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education from UTEP, which helped prepare him for his 30-plus year career in education.

He has taught or administered at every level from elementary school to higher education. Aguirre’s goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of students and to involve families in academic decisions.

Mary E. Bell | College of Business Administration / BBA Finance, 1983

Shortly after graduating from UTEP with her bachelor’s degree in finance, Mary E. Bell received her first job as a management trainee for the State National Bank of El Paso. Today, she is Regional President and CEO for Indiana and Ohio at Wells Fargo Bank.

Bell has a strong commitment to service and leads several community outreach programs. She also serves as an active volunteer in her community of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Brian Cloteaux, Ph.D. | College of Engineering /B.S. Electrical Engineering, 1993 / M.S. Computer Science, 1997

Brian Cloteaux, Ph.D., is a native El Pasoan who began his academic career at UTEP, earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and his master’s in computer science. He went on to earn a doctoral degree in computer science from New Mexico State University.

Currently, Cloteaux is a researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he investigates characteristics of real-world networks such as the Internet and social media to help predict what will happen with them in the future. In addition to his research, he also mentors students in the NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which aims to inspire them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Barbara Divis | College of Liberal Arts / B.M. Music Performance, 1987

UTEP provided the foundation for a singing career that took Barbara Divis across the U.S. to perform lead roles in well-known operas such as Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” where she performed as the title character Cio-Cio-San in seven productions.

She has performed professionally in 35 productions, most of them lead roles, around the United States between 1984 and her retirement in 2011. Music from Divis’ CDs are featured in the book, “Operaville,” by Michael J. Vaughan, available online.

Karen Lyon, Ph.D. | School of Nursing / B.S. Nursing, 1974; M.S. Nursing, 1978

Karen Lyon, Ph.D., was one of El Paso’s first baccalaureate prepared nurses to graduate from The University of Texas System School of Nursing in 1974 and one of the first students in the new Master of Science in Nursing program at the UTEP College of Nursing.

She joined UTEP as a faculty member in 1979. In 2004, she was named assistant dean of graduate nursing. During her tenure with the University, Lyon developed the graduate degree in nursing systems management and UTEP’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Fast Track Program. She currently serves as executive director of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.

Freda Mowad | College of Health Sciences / M.S. Speech-Language Pathology, 1995

Freda Mowad is president of Senior Rehab Solutions (SRS), a rehabilitation management company with facilities in Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, California and New York, where she is in charge of more than 2,000 therapy professionals.

In 2013 she led efforts to open the first SRS facility in El Paso, where UTEP students in the speech-language pathology, physical therapy and occupational therapy programs receive clinical training. As an avid UTEP supporter, Mowad also helped establish the Senior Rehab Solutions Excellence Endowment in the College of Health Sciences.

Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, Ph.D. | College of Science / B.S. Biological Sciences, 1975

Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, Ph.D., is a second-generation UTEP graduate who credits outstanding UTEP educators in biology, genetics and cytology for getting her where she is today: professor and head of Texas A&M University’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences.

Her undergraduate lab work at UTEP on lead contributed to what is now her main research focus: the neurotoxicity of lead. Tiffany-Castiglioni’s work in veterinary medicine contributes to greater advancements in environmental, animal and human health.

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