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Five alumni honored as "Pillars of Success" at Oct. 11 ceremony
Posted: 10/16/2007
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An exhibit titled "Pillars of Success" featuring the photos and success stories of five distinguished alumni of The University of Texas-Pan American opened at the University's Visitors Center Oct. 11.

Four of the five honorees were able to attend the reception before family, friends, and University employees and students, where the pillars were unveiled. Pillar nominees are submitted to the Visitors Center Exhibits Committee who then makes recommendations for final selections to the President's Executive Committee. The current "Pillars of Success" will be on display for the next two years.

Pictured from left are new UTPA "Pillars of Success" honorees Arturo E. Guerra Jr., Roberto Pulido, Dr. Marla M. Guerra, and Lucious "Luke" Jackson Jr. Not pictured is Major General William F. Garrison, who was unable to attend the Pillars exhibit opening.
The 2007 honorees are as follows:

William F. Garrison, major general, U.S. Army - Garrison, who earned a bachelor's in business administration from then Pan American University (PAU), became the youngest U.S. Army officer ever to hold the ranks of colonel, brigadier general and major general. He was the commanding officer of Operation Gothic Serpent, the military operation launched in 1993 to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid, which ended by the Battle of Mogadishu on Oct. 3, 1993. He retired Aug. 3, 1996. Sam Shepherd portrayed Garrison in the film "Black Hawk Down," which chronicles the events of Battle of Mogadishu. Garrison, who is on assignment in Africa, was represented at the ceremony by UTPA ROTC Colonel Christopher Rivers.

Arturo E. Guerra Jr., retired attorney-at-law/district judge - After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in social studies and government from PAU, Guerra went on to law school and practiced law for a number of years prior to assuming the position of county court-at-law judge. After four years he was appointed judge of the 275th District Court, which he held until 1987. He also served as corporate counsel for CoSTEP until 2006. Now retired from the legal profession, Guerra serves on numerous community boards and participates in his family's fourth generation ranching business.

Dr. Marla M. Guerra, South Texas ISD superintendent - Guerra received her post-bachelor's work at the University and spent her early years in social work before becoming a teacher. Before joining South Texas ISD in October 2001, she was an assistant professor in the UTPA Department of Educational Leadership. She has spent 23 years of her career at PSJA Independent School District, where she served as a teacher, principal, district planning coordinator, and administrator. Under her leadership, the STISD became one of only five recognized districts in the region for the 2006-2007 academic year.

Lucious "Luke" Jackson Jr., Olympic gold medalist and former forward for the Philadelphia 76ers - While working on his bachelor's degree in physical education, Jackson led the University's basketball team to the 1963 NAIA National Championship. In 1964 Luke was chosen to play on the U.S. Olympic basketball team where he earned a gold medal beating the Russian basketball team in the finals in Tokyo, Japan. Later that same year he was drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia 76ers where he played for nine years winning "Rookie of the Year" in 1965 and winning a national championship in 1967 with a record of 68 wins and 13 losses. Jackson remains on the NBA's list of "50 Greatest Players of All Time."

Roberto Pulido, Tejano music recording artist - He attended PAU on a music scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in music. After teaching for a while, Pulido launched his musical career with the creation of Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos and has been on the forefront of Tejano music for more than a quarter of a century. Pulido, or "El Primo" as he is known to his many fans, won his first Tejano Music Award for male vocalist in 1980 and has captured countless others since. He continues to support higher education for South Texas music students through the many scholarship fundraisers he has held.

UTPA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Paul Sale along with Dr. John Edwards, UTPA vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, led the ceremony. Sale referred to the five honorees as great leaders in their fields and as visionaries.

"Simply put they are overachievers ... and the pride of UTPA. All will serve as great examples for the thousands of elementary, middle school, high school and University students who walk through this Visitors Center every year," he said.

For more information on this exhibit or upcoming Visitors Center exhibitions, call 956/381-2956.