Distinguished alumni from The University of Texas-Pan American were honored at the annual Alumni Association Awards Banquet, Thursday, Nov. 29 in the University Ballroom.
"It is a pleasure to be able to honor this special group of friends and alumni," said Leo Rodriguez, Alumni Association trustee. "Each one of you has been vital to this University, and you are very important to us."
At the dinner, the Alumni Association recognizes former students and friends for outstanding personal and professional achievements and honors a family with strong ties to UTPA. Each honoree received a distinguished plaque on behalf of the University.
Honorees for 2001 were Rigoberto Ortiz (BS '95), Distinguished Recent Alumnus; Dr. Hilda Medrano (MEd '74) and Marcus Cayetano Barrera (MBA '94), Distinguished Alumnus; Glynn Morgan, Distinguished Faculty; Esequiel Granado Jr., (BBA '76, MEd '91), Distinguished Staff; and the Martin Ramirez family, Distinguished Family.
Ortiz received his bachelor's degree in manufacturing engineering from UTPA in 1995 and is currently employed by Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, Calif. He has assisted UTPA students in receiving internships and employment opportunities at Boeing.
Medrano, the College of Education dean, has been at UTPA since1986. Through her efforts, the University was awarded a nearly $28 million GEAR UP grant (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) for a collaborative project with 23 middle schools in 12 school districts stretching from Rio Grande City to Brownsville.
A Valley native, Barrera is owner and developer of southtexaslawyer.com, a legal information web site. He was recently elected as a McAllen city commissioner and has had several legal and business articles published in prestigious magazines.
Well known on the UTPA campus, Morgan is a Department of Political Science associate professor and has taught a variety of political science courses. He founded the College Center Program Council, now known as the University Center Program Board.
Granado, an accountant with the University since 1976, has mentored many students and recruited them to stay on campus and work for the University after graduation.
"I want to thank the Alumni Association for honoring me with this award," Granado said. "I am truly humbled. I want to thank my family for always supporting in my career at the University."
Recognized with the Distinguished Family award, the Martin Ramirez family of Roma had six daughters who attended UTPA and five who graduated from the University. The Ramirezes, who were migrant workers, stressed the importance of education to their children.
"This award means a great deal to our family, but most importantly to our parents," said San Juanita Ramirez Hinojosa, who is now a teacher. "My parents always said 'la escuela es la unica herencia que podemos dejarles, hijitas' (education is the only inheritance we can leave you)."
Also attending the banquet were Roland S. Arriola, UTPA vice president for External Affairs, and Edinburg City Mayor Joe Ochoa. The Edinburg North High School Golden Strings provided musical entertainment.