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UTRGV honors four Distinguished Alumni at awards ceremony

UTRGV has honored four outstanding graduates with the highest honor alumni can receive – the Distinguished Alumni Award. Recipients accepted their awards Thursday, April 27, 2017, at a ceremony on the Edinburg Campus. From left are honorees Michael J. Williamson and Norma Teran, UTRGV President Guy Bailey, and honorees Alice L. Rodriguez and Sandesh V. Kadur. (UTRGV Photo by Silver Salas)

UTRGV has honored four outstanding graduates with the highest honor alumni can receive – the Distinguished Alumni Award. Recipients accepted their awards Thursday, April 27, 2017, at a ceremony on the Edinburg Campus. From left are honorees Michael J. Williamson and Norma Teran, UTRGV President Guy Bailey, and honorees Alice L. Rodriguez and Sandesh V. Kadur. (UTRGV Photo by Silver Salas)

By Lisa Peña

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – MAY 3, 2017 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley has recognized four outstanding graduates with the highest honor UTRGV alumni can receive: the UTRGV Distinguished Alumni Award. 

The honorees accepted their awards during a ceremony and dinner at the UTRGV Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus.

The award recipients are graduates of UTRGV or its legacy institutions, The University of Texas – Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College. The award recognizes high-achieving individuals who stand out in their fields and have made significant contributions to society.

The 2017 UTRGV Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees are:

  • Sandesh V. Kadur, a 2001 UTB/TSC graduate, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and founder of Felis Creations.
  • Alice L. Rodriguez, a 1986 UTB/TSC graduate; regional director of consumer banking, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Norma Teran, earned an associate degree in 1987 from Pan American University, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree from UTPA in 1995 and 2002; executive vice president and chief nursing officer, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.
  • Michael Williamson, a 1997 UTPA graduate; Edinburg market president, PlainsCapital Bank.

“These four honorees reflect the very best of UTRGV and our legacy institutions,” said Dr. Kelly Scrivner, vice president for UTRGV Institutional Advancement, in welcoming the honorees and guests.  “We commend their success and are so proud to call them our own.”

Before presenting the awards, UTRGV Founding President Guy Bailey praised the recipients as “… leaders in their fields and in their communities.”

“They’re strong examples of what’s possible for people who graduate from our institutions,” he said.

MICHAEL WILLIAMSON

First on stage to receive his medal, banker Williamson recalled his graduation day from UTPA as one of the most memorable experiences of his life. And the alumni awards ceremony is another special moment.

“Dr. Guy Bailey, I thank you with all my heart. I thank your wonderful team for considering me for this great honor, and for allowing my family and me to have additional, wonderful, everlasting memories with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,” Williamson said.

He concluded by dedicating his award to his late parents and mother-in-law. Addressing his wife, he said, “I can only hope, darling, that they are looking at us from heaven right now and saying, good job, kids.”

ALICE RODRIGUEZ

Rodriguez told the audience she was one of four children, born and raised in Brownsville. Her parents did not attend high school.

“What they lacked in education, they really made up for in what they taught me and my siblings about a very strong work ethic, discipline, and how important it was to finish what we started.”

Banker Rodriguez was the first in her family to graduate from college.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” she said. “I really want to thank my family and everyone for being here tonight, and again, Dr. Bailey, thank you and the university for this wonderful honor.”

NORMA TERAN

Nursing executive Teran spoke about the professors who influenced her education, and said the university “… has been the foundation for me to move forward.”

Teran earned her doctorate in Nursing Practice in 2016 from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center – Lubbock. Her education, she said, has afforded her many important opportunities.

She concluded with a thank you for President Bailey and for UTRGV, and left the audience with these words of wisdom: “Be the best version of yourself. We inspire with what we do.”

SANDESH KADUR

The final honoree was introduced with his own work, a video featuring breathtaking scenes and awe-inspiring flyover shots of nature. Kadur captures images for documentaries that air world-wide, and his latest project is the BBC series “Planet Earth II.” 

Kadur, who came back to the Valley from India, where he lives now, to accept his Distinguished Alumni Award, said his time at UTB/TSC made working on the series possible.

“That dream would never have come true if I wasn’t here as part of the UTRGV system, being here in the Valley, and being welcomed in the Valley by all of you.” 

He recalled a simple motto learned while at the university: “Conservation through education.” 

“That stuck with me, and I decided that I would spend the rest of my life, living that motto,” he said.

Bailey offered these remarks to close the awards: “A university really only has one measure of success, and that’s the success of its students. If you look at the four people we honored tonight, you have to say this university is a remarkable success.”

MEDIA CONTACTS

Lisa.Pena@UTRGV.edu
Development Communications Writer, Office of Development / (956) 665-5302
UTRGV Division of Institutional Advancement 

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications 956-665-2742