TAMIU Names Recipients of Alumni Awards
Posted: 05/13/2010

TAMIU Honors Distinguished
Alumni Award Winners Sunday

They cover a full range of careers: doctors to lawyers, educators to business persons and more. All are alumni of Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and symbols of the University’s 40-year trajectory of changing futures, hearts and minds.

“The successes of our alumni and students are what make TAMIU what it is today,” said Candy Hein, vice president for Institutional Advancement, “We honor and thank this year’s Award winners for their contributions to our community and the other communities they call home. They are truly ambassadors of our University and the ones who will help carry TAMIU’s legacy to the future.”
A committee made up of alumni members reviewed the nominations and selected the recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Hein said.

They were chosen based on several criteria including humanitarian services, achievements and accomplishments, volunteerism, involvement in TAMIU-sponsored events and programs, contributions toward the Alumni Association scholarship fund and display of positive images of TAMIU in their respective communities.

The 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award winners are Dr. Homero Aguirre Milling ’77; Juan Gerardo Alfaro ’03; Lupita R. Canales ’83; Mary G. Capello ’85; Dr. Sara Carrasco ’96; Sandra Cavazos ’82; Carlos Evaristo Flores ’00; Dr. Norma G. García ’77, ’85; David González, Sr. ’05; Juvenal “JJ” Haynes ’77; Dr. Belinda Villarreal Jordan ’91; Gina Tsai Mejía ’87; Dr. Linda Marie García Mitchell ’77, ’82; José Ángel Moreno ’81; Dr. Elsa Cantú Ruiz ’76, ’82; Martha Speer ’89; Mary Treviño ’72; Victor Villarreal ’99; Yolanda Castillo-Yzquierdo ’03, ’09; and Dr. Jovannelly Zaragoza ’00.

Homero Aguirre
Dr. Homero Aguirre Milling

Dr. Homero Aguirre Milling received an MBA in Business Administration from Texas A&M International University in 1977 and a Ph.D. in Administration and International Strategy from Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, México. He has taught undergraduate and master level courses at both institutions. Furthermore, Dr. Aguirre has been instrumental in the development of joint degrees between the two universities in nursing and business, as well as a certificate in bilingual education. His efforts further augment TAMIU’s global mission of an international curriculum. Dr. Aguirre has authored several publications in Spanish.

Juan Alfaro
Juan Gerardo Alfaro

Juan Gerardo Alfaro
received his MBA-IT in ’03 at Texas A&M International University after attending Stanford University. He immediately then attended the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at TAMU due to the efforts of his business instructors at TAMIU. He was honored with the election by his fellow classmates to deliver the Commencement Address before former President George H. W. Bush and other Bush family members. Alfaro taught mathematics for a short period at United Independent School District (UISD), which led him to pursue a position involving education policy at the state level. Fully committed to public service, he accepted the opportunity to work for the Legislative Budget Board in Austin. Here he has been effective in having his recommendations sponsored by state legislators that are now part of the Texas Education Code. Alfaro’s dedication to serving others continues to be exemplified in his involvement in civic, community, and church organizations in Austin.


Lupita R. Canales
Lupita R. Canales

Lupita R. Canales, a teacher for 12 years, decided to take another direction and was conferred an MBA in International Trade in ’83. Through her networking with the international students in her classes and a persuasive vision of the import/export industry, she established A. R. Canales International Brokers, Inc. This venture addressed not only community needs but a global resource for Laredo. Canales’ resourceful and energetic qualities have been the ingredients for her success. Her leadership and organizational skills have been in demand by many professional and community boards. She has served as Chairman of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce and the Workforce Solutions for South Texas, President of the Laredo Gateway Rotary Club and Laredo License Custom Brokers, and a board member of the Laredo Development Foundation and the Laredo Transportation/Manufacturing Association. Her stellar achievements have built a strong business for herself.


Maria Guevarra Capello
Mary Guevara Capello

Mary Guevara Capello, J.D. obtained a Master of Business Administration in International Trade ’85 from the former Laredo State University. Capello was a trial lawyer for seven years before she found her calling as an administrator. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer at the Teaching and Mentoring Communities (formerly known as the Texas Migrant Council) and administers an estimated budget of $88,000,000. TMC ranks #41 out of 2,000 non-profit organizations in the United States and oversees 16 programs in eight states. She specializes in the development of award-winning and exemplary programs and has achieved local, state, and national recognition for programs under her leadership. Capello has over 30 years experience as an advocate, community organizer, fundraiser and leader. She has received commendations and awards from The National Association of Women-Elected Officials, Laredo City Council, The Laredo Morning Times, and LULAC Council, to name a few. In 1999 the Laredo Commission for Women named her to the Laredo Women’s Hall of Fame.


Sara Carrasco
Dr. Sara Carrasco

After attaining three degrees in physical education, health recreation and dance, Dr. Sara Carrasco pursued a master’s degree in administration at TAMIU in ’96. She has dedicated her life to health and wellness and has had a stellar 45-year career at the collegiate level. She was the first adjunct professor of fitness and sports at what was then known as Texas A&I University at Laredo. Her personal passion and dedication has been championed by many of those whom she has coached and mentored. For 27 years, she led the Laredo Community College men’s and women’s tennis teams to receive national rankings. Dr. Carrasco’s most meritorious distinctions are being named to the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Hall of Fame--Men’s Tennis Coach, Laredo Commission for Women--Women’s Hall of Fame, Gateway to Mexico Sports Clinic Hall of Honor, and Tiger Legends.


Sandra Cavazos
Sandra Cavazos

During her high-school years, Sandra Cavazos always knew that she wanted to make a difference in the life of a child. She wanted to be the role-model that could make the difference between a student graduating from school or dropping out. Through much sacrifice and family support, she was able to obtain her Masters in Bilingual education in ’82 and later her mid-management and superintendency certificate. During her 34 years in education she has served United Independent School District (UISD) as a Reading Specialist, Executive Director for Student Services, Director of Discipline Management, Administrator for Planning, Campus Instructional Administrator and Campus Principal. Cavazos credits the faculty and administrators at TAMIU for helping her reach her ultimate goals in education. She is also extremely involved in community organizations such as Friends of the Library, Phi Delta Kappa, Literacy Volunteers of Laredo, Amistad Reading Council, Alpha Delta Kappa and Maemoc Social Club.


Carlos E. Flores
Carlos E. Flores

Attorney Carlos E. Flores, an advocate for change and cultural understanding, is an associate with Brown and McCarroll, LLP where he practices commercial litigation, administrative law, Texas election law compliance and general business counseling. Flores received a Bachelor of Arts in 2000 and began his career as a middle school language arts teacher; while teaching in Laredo for UISD, and later in the San Antonio Independent School District, Flores’ interest in educational border issues evolved. Because of this experience, he continues to play a role in public education by serving as Vice President for El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees. As a Board member, he has played an integral role in expanding the dual-language programs, increased funding for fine arts program, and been part of the creation of an innovative college readiness initiative. He is involved in numerous organizations and city boards in an effort to stay tuned to the community’s needs.


Norma Garza Garcia
Dr. Norma Garza-Garcia

Norma Garza-Garcia, earned both her bachelor’s in ’77 and master’s in ‘85 at Texas A&M International University. Dr. García has been an educator for almost 30 years and has taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels. She has been with Zapata County Independent School District for over 25 years and has held numerous administrative positions and currently is the Interim Superintendent and Chief Instructional Officer. Her enthusiasm and tireless work ethic makes her a great advocate for the children of Zapata. Dr. García was in the first cohort to graduate in the Texas A&M University/TAMIU Ph.D. collaborative in Curriculum and Instruction. García has also been active in her community with the Girls Softball League and has been a UIL Coach for Spelling and Ready Writing for the past 10 years. She credits her support and encouragement in pursuing her degrees to the culture embedded in the TAMIU faculty and staff.


David Gonzalez Sr.
David González Sr.

David Gonzalez, Sr. earned two undergraduate degrees at Texas A&M International University in ‘05 and will soon be completing a Master in Public Administration. A big promoter of higher education, González has had extensive work experience in several industries and excelled at many. His relentless ability to bring people together has been recognized by his current and past employers with numerous awards in service and sales. González works with several non-profit organizations by providing marketing and management strategies and volunteers in their fundraising activities. The ingredients of his success are due to effective organization, tireless attention to detail and an infectiously persuasive smile. David has been employed with Doctors Hospital of Laredo since 2003 as Community Relations Coordinator.


J. J. Haynes
J. J. Haynes

J. J. Haynes is a 1977 graduate of the former Texas A&I University at Laredo, now Texas A&M International University, where he received a degree in Business Administration. His first job was for the State Comptroller of Public Accounts where he served as manager of the Laredo District Field office responsible for 10 South Texas Counties. He then went on to become President of Penco Petroleum, Inc. which was listed among the top 500 Hispanic firms in the U.S. and Puerto Rico by Hispanic Magazine. Haynes has served his alma mater as an active board member of the 4U Foundation, created to give full four-year University status to TAMIU, thus bringing about the University’s name change. He was also instrumental in lobbying for Senate Bill 6 which secured funding for this institution. Haynes is a rancher, businessman and civic leader. He has served on over 30 boards and commissions at the local and state level and as founding member and President of Laredo Daybreak Rotary, where he was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow along with his wife and daughter. At TAMIU the Haynes have an endowed scholarship honoring their daughter, Minnie Dora. Recently, he and his siblings gave TAMIU a donation in memory of his father naming the baseball field the Jorge Haynes Field, along with an endowed athletic scholarship in the name of his parents, Jorge and Olga Haynes. Haynes is a lifetime member of the University’s Alumni Association.


Belinda Jordan
Dr. Belinda Villarreal Jordan

With big dreams, a full scholarship, and the mental capacity to propel her at a young age, Belinda Villarreal Jordan’s future was set for success. However, family ties held her home after high school graduation and Dr. Jordan instead married and began raising a family. She overcame her obstacles and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the former Laredo State University in 1991. She enjoyed teaching for a few years, but the yearning to become a doctor was stronger than ever. Today, Dr. Jordan has a practice in McAllen, TX and describes herself as a family physician, bariatrician, business owner, teacher, mother and wife -- and none takes precedent over the other. Upon reflection, Dr. Jordan appreciates the opportunity to have been a teacher as it has helped her become a better doctor. She gives back to her community by helping the indigent.


Gina Tsai Mejia
Gina Tsai Mejia

Taiwanese native Gina Tsai Mejia came to the University to receive an MBA-IT in ‘87 and subsequently made Laredo her home. She is a financial advisor with Met Life and is highly involved with the arts and in promoting international cultural exchange. Her goal is to make Laredo a more competitive global community. Mejia was one of the founding members of the Laredo Asian Association, an organization that upholds Asian heritage and culture and provides scholarships through its annual Asian Night Extravaganza to TAMIU students pursuing a Chinese language or a higher education degree. Mejia and her husband have also been TAMIU benefactors contributing to student scholarships through the Alumni Annual Fund for many years and have served as officers of the TAMIU Alumni Association.

Linda Marie Mitchell
Dr. Linda Marie Mitchell

Dr. Linda Marie Garcia Mitchell received her bachelor’s in ’77 and masters in ’82. She is an educator that inspires in her students a love of learning, encourages them to pursue excellence, and gives them the skills and enthusiasm they need to make a positive difference in the world. Throughout her career, her students have nominated her for numerous awards such as the Texas Excellence Awards for Outstanding High School Teachers. She was an English Classroom teacher for 26 years with Laredo Independent School District (LISD) and assistant principal for 4 years. She is currently principal at St. Peters Memorial School in Laredo, where she has brought the school to higher levels of instruction and helped increase enrollment in this inner city Catholic school. In 2002, she completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi. She is active as an advisory board member of Bethany House as well as other professional and civic organizations. She is a member of the UISD Improvement Council at Nye Elementary and is the incoming second vice president for Delta Kappa Gamma, Alpha Nu chapter. She was also awarded the Tiger Legend Award at Martin High School in March 2010.


José Ángel Moreno
José Ángel Moreno

Jose Angel Moreno, J.D., received his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice in ’81 and attended law school at the University of Texas. He has been an attorney for over two decades with a long and distinguished career as both state and federal prosecutor. Recently, Moreno was appointed by the judges of the Southern District of Texas to serve as a United States Attorney. This district includes 43 counties including Webb and his current home of Houston, TX. He has also worked internationally in Bogota, Colombia, to strengthen the Columbian justice sector alongside the US Embassy. Throughout his federal career, Moreno has been a sought after speaker. He has addressed prosecutors, investigators and even judges on a variety of topics in the US as well as abroad. He served as an instructor/lecturer under the Department of State in several Central and South American countries, focusing on strategies to combat organized crime. Moreno has chaired or served on a number of task forces and earned accolades for his outstanding performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) including the Executive Office of U.S. Attorney’s Director’s Award for Superior Performance by an AUSA.



Elsa Cantú Ruiz
Dr. Elsa Cantú Ruiz

Elsa Cantu Ruiz, Ph.D, has strived for personal and professional excellence throughout her life. Her passion for learning runs deep and she has spread this intense fervor to her students. She has earned two degrees at Texas A&M International University in ’76 and ’82 and a joint Ph.D. with Texas A&M University in Curriculum and Instruction. She has been a classroom teacher for 30+ years, adopting innovative teaching methods in order to provide a fun, hands-on experience for her pupils. Additionally, she dedicates her efforts to motivating Latinas to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). These efforts, and her research and publications in STEM pedagogical strategies, have earned her the respect and admiration of colleagues, administrators and her students. Dr. Ruiz displays a positive image for TAMIU as she teaches in the academic community at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and in all other areas of the country where she presents her work. She is active in numerous academic and professional societies.


Martha C. Speer
Martha C. Speer

Martha C. Speer, a BBA ’89 graduate of the former Laredo State University, began her career with Chick-Fil-A as a teenager on a part-time basis. A petite woman known for her patience, ethics and loyalty, she was soon on the fast lane to success at the one and only company she has ever worked for. After long hours and hard work, Speer had the opportunity to open her own business with the franchise she has been so committed to, Chick-Fil-A. Speer has proven her business prowess time and time again, exceeding sales projections by focusing on people, both her team and her customers. She also works year-round with local organizations such as South Texas Blood and Tissue Bank, American Cancer Society, and the Laredo Junior Diabetes Foundations. She and her franchise team up with local non-profits during the holidays to ensure that children benefit from the holiday season. Moreover, she gives back to her University by serving on the advisory board for Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a TAMIU Student Organization focusing on business and entrepreneurship. She also assists TAMIU athletic teams with their fundraising endeavors.


Maria Treviño
Mary Treviño

Mary Treviño received her Bachelor of Science ‘72 when the campus was known as Texas A&I University at Laredo and on the campus of then- Laredo Junior College. She has had one of the longest careers at Texas A&M International University, beginning as a student employee and now serving as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Cumulatively, Mary has served this institution for over 35 years, holding numerous administrative titles. She is highly respected by her peers and supervisors for her vast academic knowledge, experience and dedication. She has also served the Alumni Association in multiple leadership roles as well as President in 1992. Treviño has served on the recruitment committee, AutMus Fest and was actively involved as a founder of the Alumni Association’s Golf Tournament. She holds a lifetime membership in the Alumni Association. Treviño’s civic involvement is just as inexhaustible. She has served as President of United Way and Communities in Schools and continues to work vigorously for these organizations and others.


Víctor Villarreal
Victor Villarreal

Victor Villarreal majored in political science and received his Bachelor of Arts in 1999 in the first four year class graduating on the new campus. As a TAMIU student, he was very active in the Student Government Association and Student Ambassadors. After graduation, Villarreal interned for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and was named a Moreno Fellow for the House of Representatives before earning a law degree from the University of Texas. He returned to Laredo and spent time working with a litigation law firm before establishing a partnership with Eduardo Romero. Today, he continues to stay actively involved by serving in the Laredo-Webb County Bar Association as President, and the Texas Young Lawyers. He also serves as pro—bono legal counsel for the TAMIU Alumni Association and for AutMus Fest.


Yolanda Yzquierdo
Yolanda Yzquierdo

Yolanda Castillo Yzquierdo ’03,’09 has always known that she would someday serve the medical community as a nurse. She worked diligently as an ADN, but never lost sight of her dream of receiving a degree from TAMIU. She credits the TAMIU faculty for keeping her focused on caring for the well-being of others and for providing great skills that have helped her work in different areas of the hospital. Yzquierdo also assisted in various projects at the hospital such as development and revision of patient care plans, assistance with education for hospital nurse internship programs, participation in hospital fairs for skill development and revision of policies and procedures for ICU. She is a self-motivated individual who serves as a patient advocate during her daily life at the Laredo Medical Center.


Dr. Jovanelly Zaragoza
Dr. Jovannelly Zaragoza

Dr. Jovannelly Zaragoza graduated at the top of her class from TAMIU in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Dr. Zaragoza earned a double major in Biology and Math with a minor in Chemistry and was one of the first students to participate in the pre-dental program at the University. She currently practices with Gentle Family Dentistry and Gentle Implant Dentistry of Laredo. Consumer’s Research Council of America, an independent research company based in Washington, D.C., has named Dr. Zaragoza to the “2010 Guide to America’s Top Dentists.” She belongs to several professional organizations and is giving back to her community by providing dental care to the indigent through Gateway Community Clinic, Head Start and for the City of Laredo at the Civic Center. Dr. Zaragoza serves as a mentor to future dental students from Alexander High School and University students.

“The successes of our alumni and students are what make TAMIU what it is today,” Hein said, “We honor and thank this year’s Award winners for their contributions to our community and the other communities they call home. They are truly ambassadors of our University and the ones who will help carry TAMIU’s legacy to the future.”

A committee made up of alumni members reviewed the nominations and selected the recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Hein said.

They were chosen on several criteria including humanitarian services, achievements and accomplishments, volunteerism, involvement in TAMIU-sponsored events and programs, contributions toward the Alumni Association scholarship fund and display of positive images of TAMIU in their respective communities.

Tickets for the concert are $25 and will be available at the Office of Institutional Advancement at TAMIU located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 262. For information on tickets, please call 326-GIVE (4483).

For more information, please contact the Office for Institutional Advancement at 326.4483, e-mail candy.hein@tamiu.edu or visit offices located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 262.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu