When Jose G. "Joey" Gonzalez Jr. returned to the Rio Grande Valley nine years ago he wanted to reconnect with his alma mater, The University of Texas-Pan American. After reading an article in a local newspaper about the UTPA Alumni Association, Gonzalez contacted the group to inquire about joining.
"I really enjoyed my time at Pan American," said Gonzalez, who graduated from UTPA with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1993 and is now a partner with Watts Guerra Craft L.L.P. in Edinburg.
Since 2003, Gonzalez has worked to strengthen the ties between the University and its alumni as a member of the association's Board of Trustees and on May 25, he was elected to be its president.
Gonzalez said he credits his parents and UTPA political science professor Jerry Polinard with instilling in him a desire to become a lawyer. After working as a history teacher at Roma High School for a year, Gonzalez enrolled in St. Mary's School of Law in San Antonio and received his Juris Doctorate in 1998. He also attended the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1989-1991.
Being involved in the association helps him reconnect with fellow alumni and help current students, he said.
"Our goal is to strengthen and reinforce ties with the University, the president's office and to ensure that we have a very strong and vibrant relationship with the community," he said.
During his tenure as president, Gonzalez said he hopes to reach out to more alumni and make the association more visible through its committees, outreach programs and through public announcements in local media to show the group is active.
"First and foremost we understand that what we do at the end of the day helps UTPA students by offering scholarships and mentoring. The success of the students here at UTPA is most important," he said.
The association held the May 25 meeting on the third floor of the Wells Fargo Bank Building in Edinburg, where board members elected Gonzalez president; Hector Landez, BBA '87, president-elect; Diane Willis, BS '89, Med '95, vice president; Thomas Yznaga, BA '81, vice president; Frances Trevino, AAS '93, BIS '96, Med 2000, vice president; Norma Rydl, BA '78, treasurer; Carmen Lara, BBA '75, secretary; and Roland S. Arriola, former UTPA Vice President for External Affairs, parliamentarian.
Board members also reappointed current members Arriola, Rydl, Landez, John Sigrist, BFA '78 and Bret L. Mann, MBA '89, for another three-year term. Members also elected writer and strategic planner Arnoldo Mata, BA '81, and Hector Casas, owner of the Social Club in Edinburg and who attended UTPA from 1973-1978, to fill two vacancies on the board.
For more information about the UTPA Alumni Association, call 956/381-2500 or visit http://www.utpaalumni.com.