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Dear UT Pan Am Alumni

We would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to become a more active member of the UTPA Alumni Association! There are exciting ways to become active in the Association, including running for a position on the 2013-2014 Alumni Association Board of Trustees.

All UTPA alumni are encouraged to run for leadership positions within the Association. We welcome participation from all years. A Board composed of Alumni of all ages will represent diverse viewpoints and experiences. Trustees of the board serve three year terms. Please submit the names of any alumni whom you feel will best serve UTPA and represent nearly 76,000 alumni.

To nominate an alumnus for a seat on the Board, please complete the Nomination Form online or obtain one by calling 956-665-2500.

Nominations for the positions of UTPA Alumni Association Board of Trustees for the upcoming year may be submitted to the board’s nomination committee by May 6th.

We look forward to your participation in the recruitment process, election and at the Annual Meeting on May 15th!




Carmen Lara BBA ‘75
President, UTPA Alumni Association


Go Broncs!

Office of Alumni Relations

1201 W. University Drive, Alumni Center

Edinburg, TX 78539

UTPA Chicago Alumni & Friends Event | Saturday, April 20, 2013

The University of Texas-Pan American is proud to have alumni and friends across the entire United States.  As part of our outreach efforts, UT Pan Am is hosting a very special event in Chicago on Saturday, April 20, 2013 celebrating the arts.

While soaking in the rich Hispanic culture of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, our group will watch the members of UTPA’s award-winning, Mariachi Aztlán perform the Midwest premiere of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna(To Cross the Face of the Moon), the world’s first mariachi opera. This opera is so highly acclaimed that the four performances in Chicago this month are already sold out!

Read an inspiring article about how one of our student musicians is living out his “dream” as a college student at UTPA.

Event schedule for Saturday, April 20:

Pick and choose whichever event you’d like to attend, or better yet, come for all three!

To register for these events celebrating UTPA and the arts in Chicago, buy your tickets online or contact the Alumni Relations office at 956/665-2500 or alumni@utpa.edu


There are a limited number of opera tickets to this sold-out performance, so reserve your spot now!



  • Don’t forget to bring a guest! Show them your support of our students, your pride in UT Pan American, and your love for the cultural heritage of the Rio Grande Valley.


In 1985, Rick Villarreal (BBA’85) was a baseball player for the then-Pan American University Broncs and what a great time he had as a student-athlete at the University he recalls.
“Baseball was the best. We had a pretty good record my senior year. Even though we didn’t make it to the playoffs, we had a great team. It was a great time. I made lifelong friends, played baseball and graduated from college. My end goal was to always graduate from college,” he said.
For Villarreal his most memorable moments were spent on the baseball diamond at the old Jody Ramsey Stadium where legendary Head Coach Emeritus Al Ogletree shared his wisdom of America’s favorite pastime with his players and led them to a playoff berth in 1983 where they lost to the University of Texas Longhorns.
“Pan Am baseball has always had a long history of great tradition and I was honored to have played for the Broncs and Al Ogletree,” Villarreal said.
Win or lose, Villarreal said he learned a lot from Ogletree, who taught all his players how to be courteous and astute young men. Traits he continues to follow today in his every day life as owner of his own Farmers Insurance agency in his hometown of Edinburg.
“I’m in sales and when you’re in sales you get a lot of ‘no’s’ and so you have to learn from your mistakes and stay focused like in baseball and sports. Learning how to be a good loser is just as important as learning how to win. That is very important in business also,” he said.  

Villarreal owns a successful insurance agency in the Valley for Farmers Insurance Group and has been in business for 25 years. He is among one-half percent of Farmers agents in the nation who is a member of the President’s Council, which means he is an agent in good standing with the Farmers Insurance Group and has achieved certain education, production and performance goals, along with community involvement.   


“Just like all team sports, you can’t have a successful business without a good staff and I have a wonderful staff.  They are always motivated and very knowledgeable.  I have a championship team,” he said.
While in college, Villarreal remembers how his fellow classmates changed majors many times, but not him he said.
“I just wanted to own a business,” Villarreal said.
His first job out of college was working in the banking industry.  In the 1980s, he said, the banking industry was going down fast with lots of banks closing including First City Bank where he used to work. So Villarreal was left without a job and a new home and baby to support at that time.   Rick now has three grown children, Victoria, Rick and Julian, two who have already graduated from college.  Julian will be graduating from high school this year and will be attending college next fall. 
“Out of necessity I needed to do something and I was blessed to be able to get into this business and I started it on my own,” he said. “I’m very proud that I have built a successful business and I have sustained it for 25 years now.”

“If it wasn’t for my college degree and the relationships that I built in sports and in the University setting, I don’t know where I would be right now,” he added.  

Even with a busy career, Villarreal, who considers himself a die-hard baseball fan and loves to watch the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers play, said he still keeps up with his Broncs and on occasion can be found sitting in the stands at Edinburg Baseball Stadium watching them practice. He also hopes to support the team through sponsorships from the Farmers Insurance Group in the future.
“I see a lot of good things there. I think Coach Manny Mantrana’s heart is in the right place and I like what he is doing with the team. He is doing a great job. His knowledge and work ethic have already brought back the winning tradition we were accustomed to when Coach Al and Reggie (Tredaway) were here. It feels like home again, ” he said.
To further support the University in its endeavors and connect with his alma mater, Villarreal made the decision to join the President’s Circle, a “circle” of very special friends of the University who are dedicated to ensuring a bright future for UTPA and its students through unrestricted annual gifts.
“I saw the passion that Dr. (Robert) Nelsen has for the University, for the area and for the students and it inspired me to give back to the University,” he said.
He said he is proud to be part of a this special team as it will allow him to play a role in making UT Pan American a top university in the country, which for him is a homerun in his book.
To be part of the President’s Circle, contact Yvette Padilla, director of stewardship and annual giving, at (956) 665-5301.


In 1976, Gerald Ford was president, the Apple Company was formed, and Carmen Z. Lara (BBA ’75) was working her first job out of college as an accountant in a Rio Grande Valley firm.

What a year that was for Lara, who began her career at a male-dominated accounting firm, where one of her bosses once told her that it was likely most clients would not want to deal with her because she was Hispanic and a woman.

“Yes, it was a man’s world then,” she said. “I remember the office was all men and very few women and Hispanics. I even recall when they would bring CPAs from other parts of the country because there were none in the Valley at that time.”

Lara said she can still remember that comment and how it motivated her to take the exam to earn her CPA license in 1985.

“When I graduated I never sat for the CPA exam. I didn’t think I could pass it because I was Hispanic,” Lara said. “When I passed all the parts of the exam and passed it before several of my peers did, I realized I had it in me to do it.”

Since May 1976, Lara has remained with the same accounting firm in McAllen, Texas, which has gone through several name changes and personnel, but she has stayed and is now a partner in Ewing, Lara & Company P.C. Her business partner Jack Ewing (BS ’76), also a UTPA alum and former Bronc baseball player from Nederland, Texas, has been with the firm since 1977.

“He’s the visionary and I’m the numbers person,” she said.

Not bad for a girl from San Juan, Texas, who grew up on the poor side of town. One of five siblings, Lara said her father passed away when she was five years old leaving her mother a widow at the age of 35. Lara said she knew she was poor growing up, but never realized how impoverished they were until she attended elementary school on the other side of the tracks and saw how others lived – nice homes, vehicles, toys, etc.

“I thought to myself ‘holy smokes I don’t have anything,’” she said.

Lara was also no stranger to working in the fields and picking cotton, which was the norm for a lot of Rio Grande Vallley families back then and for many today. Her experiences in the fields and seeing how her family struggled to stay afloat made Lara realize she needed to get a higher education to get herself and family out of the hole they were in.

“I was the first of my family to go through school and get a college degree. I feel like I have done a lot,” she said. “I’m thankful to UTPA. If it hadn’t been for UTPA I would not have gotten an education. We were very fortunate to have the school in our backyard.”

Today, Lara’s own children have followed in their mother’s footsteps and earned their degrees from UTPA. Her three children – Yvonne (BBA ’00), Belinda (BIS ’01), and Mario (BS ’10), who will be deploying to Afghanistan in January – all became Broncs and made their mother proud.

To show her gratitude to the University for all she and her family have accomplished, Lara joined the UTPA Alumni Association to help her alma mater with its future endeavors. Since joining, Lara has taken on a leadership role in the group as its new president.

“It wasn’t until I got involved with the Alumni Association that I realized how important it really is to give back to the University,” Lara said.

Lara said she tries to instill her love of UTPA in her own children and the 19 UTPA graduates and students who work in her firm too. As the Alumni Association’s new leader, Lara said her plans include increasing membership and awareness for the group, hosting more fundraising events for scholarships, and conducting community service projects as an organization.

“It is a very small step, but hopefully I’m going to lay a foundation that future alums will follow,” Lara said.

In addition, Lara hopes to recruit younger and more diverse members to the group.

“We’ve got a great board, but we need to continue to diversify the group,” she said. “I think younger alumni can bring fresh and innovative ideas to the table to make this a well-rounded board.”

So why join the UTPA Alumni Association? Lara said because alums are the backbone of the University and without them there would be no UTPA. Alumni are key to helping UTPA succeed in the future she said and “we need your help.”

“When asking alumni to join I always hear ‘what’s in it for me.’ It’s not about what’s in it for me, but about what we can do to improve the University together,” she said.

To learn more about the UTPA Alumni Association, call (956) 665-2500 or to become a member, visit www.utpaalumni.com.

UTPA Alumni Book SaleThe 4th Annual UTPA Alumni Association Used Book Sale drew a large crowd of people to the newly opened UTPA Alumni Center in Edinburg on Saturday, March 24. With thousands of novels, nonfiction, children’s books, cookbooks, western, science and others donated to choose from, alumni and books lovers from across the region took part in the all-day event to raise money for book scholarships.
“We changed the date and location of the sale and people responded to that,” Arnoldo Mata (BA 81’), Used Book Sale Chair, said. “We’ve wanted to attract more people to the Alumni Center and the location really was more accessible to people. They had a chance to visit the Center as well.”
“We’ve been very fortunate to get a lot of support and help from our alumni and the community in general. Their help is very important to raising funds for scholarships,” Mata said. “The sale keeps growing every year, and we’re already planning for next year.”
The UTPA Alumni Association will award the scholarships later this year through the UTPA Alumni Relations Office.


With a room full of books to dispose of, Yvonne Anderson naturally thought of the University of Texas-Pan American Alumni Association’s Used Book Sale as the natural place to donate the books. More than 600 books were donated for the Fourth Annual Used Book Sale.

“I was truly impressed by the great diversity of books Mrs. Anderson had and donated,” said Arnoldo Mata, UTPA Alumni Association Used Book Sale chair. “There were titles in just about every genre, from fiction to nonfiction. It included current fiction, classic literature, philosophy, art, design, cooking, history, and music. I wish I had time to read through all of the books she had in one room.”

Mrs. Anderson’s daughter, Janet Sprague, said Anderson recently moved to Austin to be closer to family. Anderson was a former English instructor at UTPA. Her late husband, Dr. John Anderson, was UTPA Department of Music Chair. Yvonne Anderson has been a longtime supporter and patron of UTPA, literacy, music, art, theatre and her church. She was an exemplary member of the International Women’s Board Executive Council for 20 years, a Lifetime member of the UTPA Alumni Association, and the President’s Circle, and she supported many initiatives at UTPA.

According to Mata, the books will be added to the many others already donated by UTPA alumni and South Texas residents for the Used Book Sale.

“We’ve already received quite a few books, but we still need more books. We will be accepting book donations up until the week before the sale, so we’re asking our supporters to start collecting their books,” Mata said.

Books can be dropped off at one of two locations. The first is at the UTPA Alumni Center at 2402 S. Closner Blvd. in Edinburg. The second location is at Office Furniture USA at 1008-A E. Pecan Blvd. in McAllen.

“We’re looking for more drop-off locations. If any alumni or local business would like to help by serving as a drop-off location, please contact us. We are also looking for volunteers to help us in the collection and sorting. Of course, we’ll also need help on the sale day,” Mata said.

According to Mata, all proceeds from the book sale will be used for scholarships.

For more information about the UTPA Alumni Used Book Sale, contact Arnoldo Mata at 460-9125 or arnoldo.mata@hotmail.com.



BOOK DONATION – Jeanette Sprague poses with some of the approximately 600 books her mother, Yvonne Anderson, donated to the UTPA Alumni Association’s Fourth Annual Used Book Sale.

UT Pan American alumni employed at Easter Seals Rio Grande Valley are on a mission to make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities and special needs by helping them and their families live better lives. For more than 50 years, Easter Seals has offered a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals. Meet the UTPA alumni who are assisting more than 2,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families in the Valley every year.

Front row, left to right, are Gerardo Garcia, UTPA student; Jennifer Gomez, BS ‘09; Lizbeth Martinez Carrera, MSW ‘06; Angela Belton, BSW ‘96; Jessica Rodriguez, BS ‘02; Cassandra Reyna, UTPA student; Priscilla De la Cruz, UTPA student; Perla Pena, UTPA student; and Mary Alice Villarreal, BS ‘07. Back row, left to right, are Gloria Castro, BSW ‘98; Roschel Servantes, BS ‘99 and MS ‘01; Vicki Doria, BS ‘94; Ana Leal, BBA ‘10; Pattie Rosenlund, MS ‘06; Yolanda Baleras, BS ‘88; Janet Serrano, BS ‘09; Mark Zapata, BA ‘97; Margie Ortega, BS ‘83; Melchor Gracia, BS ‘09 and MS ‘11; Karina Leal, BBS ‘97 and MBA ‘01; Jessica Graham, MA ‘11; Jose Hernandez, BSW ‘79; David Elizondo, BBA ‘92 and MBA ‘02; and Alma Puga, BSW ‘97.


The Alumni Association is “aiming high” for higher education this fall with its first Pan Am Classic Skeet Shoot Saturday, Nov. 19, at the RD Guerra San Felipe Ranch in Linn, 4.2 miles north of Edinburg.

Proceeds from the event, which has as its honorary co-chairs State Senators Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (BA ’70) and Eddie Lucio Jr. (BS ’74), will go into the Alumni Association’s scholarship fund in the UTPA Foundation. The goal is to raise at least $30,000, and sponsorship opportunities are available from $1,000-$5,000.

Registration for the skeet shoot begins at 8 a.m., with the tournament shotgun start beginning promptly at 9 a.m. The three-man team entry fee is $500 and includes drinks and lunch. There will be a total of 50 targets per person, with $3,000 up for grabs in prizes. Mulligans will be offered for $10, and shooters may purchase up to two. Door prizes will also be awarded. Participants must use their own gun and ammunition.

For more information about the tournament fundraiser, call the UTPA Alumni Association at (956) 665-2500 or email Debby Grant, director of alumni relations, at debbygrant@utpa.edu.

Helping to promote the Alumni Association’s first Pan Am Classic Skeet Shoot are, from left, Association Vice President Arnoldo Mata (BA ‘81), UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen and Association Vice President Diane Willis (BS ’89, Med ’95).


Debby Grant (BBA ‘99), Director of Alumni Relations, and her staff are flying high these days – celebrating a new home for all of our former students at UT Pan American’s first-ever Alumni Center, and now a new, attractive home on the Web, thanks to the great creative and technical support from the team of Director of Internet Services Kumar Raman (MS ‘01). Special kudos and sincere thanks to Web Designer Maricela Perez, who brought all of our crazy ideas to life over the last few weeks.

My role in all this? Well, I retired as vice president for university advancement on August 3l, 2011, and one “retirement life” commitment I made was to Debby, who runs a very busy shop with a staff of only three. Though I can’t claim alumni status myself (I graduated from a couple of other universities away from the Valley), I love Pan Am, and one way I can help Debby and give back to the University that has been such an important part of my life is to volunteer in Alumni Relations.

My assignment is to find more and more ways to keep our 60,000 or so alumni connected to their alma mater. We’ll be reaching out to you asking you to update your contact information, to share some of the interesting things going on in your life, as well as some of your greatest memories of your college days, and to give back to your University by making an annual gift so that you can be counted for the all-important alumni participation rate. (To learn more about that, check out COUNT ME IN!.)

In turn, through our Alumni Blog, we’ll try to keep you up to date on what’s happening at the University and what’s on the calendar for you from the Office of Alumni Relations and the UTPA Alumni Association. We hope you’ll check the blog often and be an active member of our online Pan Am Alumni Community.

Coming Soon

As soon as Facilities Management finishes with some outdoor sprucing up – including a new roof, resurfacing of the large patio area and the addition of some landscaping and signage to give it some much-needed curb appeal, the UT Pan American Alumni Center will be ready for prime time. An open house will be scheduled as soon as this work is completed. If you live out of the area, we hope you’ll come back for Homecoming February 17-18, 2012, so we can show you your new home away from home.

A real ‘page-turner’…

Check out the Fall 2011 issue of Los Arcos, which features information about a Bronc Baseball Reunion in October, a sneak peak at Homecoming 2012 and a lot of Alumni Class Notes. To save trees – and postage costs, the magazine is available online at utpa.edu/los-arcos.