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Home | Tag Archives: utep distinguished alumni

Tag Archives: utep distinguished alumni

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 Announces 2017 Distinguished Alumni

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.

UTEP has named three Distinguished Alumni for 2017: Maria Castañón Moats, U.S. and Mexico Assurance Leader for auditing firm PwC; Jacob Cintron, CEO and president of University Medical Center of El Paso; and Allen Gilmer, co-founder and executive chairman of Drillinginfo.

“We are extremely proud to celebrate this year’s Distinguished Alumni, who represent the very best of UTEP excellence – our highly talented students and the educational programs that enable them to achieve their full potential,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “These three highly accomplished UTEP graduates clearly set high aspirations for themselves and, upon completing their UTEP degrees, have achieved extraordinary success in their chosen professions. Their stories serve as a powerful inspiration for all of us at UTEP today – students, faculty and staff – to continue building a culture of excellence across the campus.”

The Distinguished Alumni award is the highest recognition bestowed upon alumni of the University. The 2017 awardees will be officially recognized during UTEP’s 2017 Homecoming Week, Oct. 1-7.

“The 2017 Distinguished Alumni are stars in their respective industries and are wonderful role models to our current students,” said Maribel Villalva, UTEP assistant vice president for alumni relations. “These individuals are being celebrated, not only because they are stellar graduates of UTEP, but also because they are prime examples of UTEP’s mission of excellence. They each rose through the ranks of their industry and are now respected leaders and innovators. But, above all else, they remain committed to their alma mater and to helping UTEP students find their own path to success. We are so proud of these three individuals who earned the title Distinguished Alumni.”

The Distinguished Alumni join another group of alumni who are being honored by their respective colleges – the 2017 Gold Nugget Award recipients – who were announced earlier this summer. They will all be honored during UTEP’s Homecoming Week and will be showcased at the annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 at the Don Haskins Center.

Learn more about the 2017 Distinguished Alumni:

Maria Castañón Moats | U.S. and Mexico Assurance Leader, PwC

 Maria Castañón Moats was born in Juárez, Mexico and grew up in El Paso. She graduated from UTEP in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She made partner at PwC in 2004 and was later appointed as the firm’s U.S. Diversity Leader from 2011-16, where she reported to the company’s U.S. CEO and served on the U.S. leadership team.

Currently, Castañón Moats serves as the first woman and first Hispanic to hold her position at PwC and recently claimed the No. 2 spot on Fortune magazine’s inaugural list of the 50 Most Powerful Latinas.

“I’m incredibly humbled by being named as a Distinguished Alumna,” Castañón Moats said. “UTEP means so much to me – it’s where I learned the value of hard work and was exposed to a variety of people, cultures and information, all of which contributed to both the person I’ve become and the fulfilling career I have today.”

Jacob Cintron | CEO and President of University Medical Center of El Paso

Jacob Cintron started out doing odd jobs in the Engineering Department of Thomason Hospital, now University Medical Center (UMC), when he was 17 years old.

Cintron earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from UTEP in 1983 and returned to the University to earn an MBA and a Master of Accountancy. He became director of engineering at Thomason and, later, assistant administrator of the hospital. He stayed at Thomason for 17 years before moving on to executive positions at major health care systems in Chicago, Illinois; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, California.

Cintron returned to El Paso in 2006 to become CEO of Del Sol Medical Center, a position he held for 10 years before being named CEO of UMC.

“I am blown away, proud and humbled by being named as one of UTEP’s Distinguished Alumni,” Cintron said. “If it weren’t for UTEP, I would have settled for something else, and my life path would have been very different. Thanks to UTEP, I am in a place where I’d never thought I’d be.”

Allen Gilmer | Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Drillinginfo

Allen Gilmer attended Rice University intending to become a lawyer. While at Rice, he enjoyed his geology classes and ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1984.

Gilmer returned to El Paso and attended UTEP, where he earned his master’s degree in geological sciences in 1987. He worked several years as a geophysicist at Marathon Oil Co. and went on to co-found several companies in the oil and gas sector before starting up Drillinginfo, a leading provider of cloud-based data and analytics software for the oil and gas industry.

Professionally, Gilmer has received numerous accolades. He was selected as Large Company CEO of the Year for Central Texas in 2014, Top 7 North American Prospect Expo Influencers in 2014, Texas’ Outstanding Geoscientist in 2012 by Texas Monthly magazine and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Central Texas in 2012.

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