Distinguished Alumni Awards 2017

Distinguished Alumni Awards

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor our alumni can receive. The award recognizes high-achieving individuals who stand out in their fields and have made significant contributions to society. Recipients of this award have honored the legacy of excellence at UTRGV and its legacy institutions through their accomplishments, affiliations, careers, and philanthropic endeavors.

2017 UTRGV Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees

Sandesh V. Kadur
Sandesh V. Kadur (UTB/TSC, BS ’01)
Felis Creations

From behind his camera, Sandesh Kadur sees the world from a very different angle. Through the use of images, both still and video, Kadur exposes the need for conservation and encourages protection of the world’s biodiversity. His photographs have been published widely in books and magazines. His documentaries on animals have been aired worldwide on the BBC Planet Earth, Discovery, and National Geographic networks.

Over the years, Kadur’s work has garnered many top awards including the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) Environmental Photographer of the Year Award, Nature’s Best Award, and the International Conservation Photographer Award. Kadur was also nominated for a Green Oscar at Wildscreen.

In 2013, Kadur was recognized by National Geographic Society as an Emerging Explorer. He received the North American Nature Photographers (NANPA) Vision Award in recognition of early career excellence and continuation of vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation, and education. Kadur feels images have the power to move people in a way nothing else can, and he hopes to harness this power through his work and inspire his audience to protect and appreciate the wilderness.

Kadur is the founder of Felis Creations, a media and visual arts company that focuses on creating content that inspires conservation. He graduated from The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology in 2001.


  • International League of Conservation Photographers (Associate Fellow)
  • The International Association of Wildlife Filmmakers
Alice L. Rodriguez
Alice L. Rodriguez (UTB/TSC, BBA ’86)
Regional Director, Consumer Banking
JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Alice Rodriguez is the consumer banking executive responsible for Banking & Wealth Management in the greater Texas metro areas. She is responsible for total deposits and investments of $70 billion and 5,000 people. Rodriguez has over 29 years of extensive banking experience with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and its predecessors.  Rodriguez holds a BBA in Management from The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College.

Active in the community and an established leader at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rodriguez has been recognized with numerous awards and honors including:

  • Hispanic Lifestyle Latina of Influence
  • Named Corporate Elite by Hispanic Business Magazine
  • Featured twice in Working Mother’s Magazine
  • Distinguished Women’s Series Award from Northwood University
  • Academy of Women Leaders Award from the YWCA of New York
  • Minority Business Leader Award from the Dallas Business Journal
  • Recipient “Inspiring Women of the Southwest” Award, Southwest Jewish Congress

As part of her commitment to leadership and her community, Rodriguez has served as a member of several boards including the following:

  • New America Alliance
  • Hispanic 100 of Dallas
  • Downtown Dallas
  • Center for Nonprofit Management
  • United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Rodriguez is married to Tom Kendall and they have a blended family of seven children.

Norma Teran-Baize
Norma Teran (UTPA, ADN ’87, BS ’95, MBA ’02)
Chief Nursing Officer
Doctors Hospital at Renaissance

Norma Teran is currently serving as executive vice president /chief nursing officer for Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System where she leads a nursing workforce of over 1200 nurses. With 28 years of health care experience, Teran is focused on advancing the quadruple aim as delineated by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement: better patient outcomes, lower health care costs, improved patient experience and health care provider wellness.

Teran immigrated with her parents from Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas, Mexico to Elsa, Texas in the early 1970’s. After graduating from Edcouch-Elsa High School in 1981, Teran obtained her associate degree in nursing in May 1987 from Pan American University. Norma completed her bachelor’s degree in nursing in December 1995. Norma went on to complete her Master of Business Administration at UTPA in May 2002 and her Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center-Lubbock in May 2016.

Teran is a member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, Texas Organization of Nurse Executives and South Texas Organization of Nurse Executives. She is also a member of the Texas Tech University chapter of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society, the American Nurses Association and Texas Nurses Association. Teran is a member of the Policy Council for Texas Nurses Association. Teran has been married to Johnny Baize for over 33 years. They have three adult children and one grandson.

Michael J. Williamson
Michael J. Williamson (UTPA, BBA ’97)
Edinburg Market President
PlainsCapital Bank

Michael J. Williamson is the Edinburg market president for PlainsCapital Bank. He manages and monitors strategic direction for the Edinburg market, including Edinburg, Donna and Weslaco, Texas. Williamson is also charged with implementing corporate strategic direction for areas of business development, product portfolio growth and management, community outreach, and officer engagement.

Williamson has fifteen years of experience in the banking industry with expertise in international relations, lending, special asset litigation, loan portfolio management, and bank oversight. He also has seven years of experience in international manufacturing including, overseeing audits and business finance consulting. Williamson was raised in Tampico, Mexico and demonstrates bilingual and bicultural values in his professional and personal life.

Williamson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from The University of Texas- Pan American. He also attended the Southwest Graduate School of banking in 2014. He has received the Chairman’s Award from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the RGV and the Directors Award from the Edinburg Rotary Club. Williamson is currently a UTRGV Foundation Board member, the Edinburg Rotary Club director, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce treasurer, a Texas International Produce Association member, and a member and advisor for the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School Finance Committee.

He is married to Allison N. Williamson and they have two wonderful daughters, Lindsay (13) and Katherine (10). His family attends Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in McAllen. In addition to his profession, Williamson enjoys farming and traveling with his family.

Galleries 2017 honorees

-Press release