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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.