The North Texan - UNT Alumni Magazine - Summer 2019

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Great Grads Page2 8


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Kathleen Wayton [ page 1 6] Every Map Tells a Story [ page 1 8] Building Resiliency [ page 38] Legacy Families [ page 5 2]

PETAL TO THE METAL UNT’s BioDiscovery Institute (BDI), directed by plant scientist Kent Chapman, Regents Professor of biology, works to make the world better through bio-based discoveries that lead to products with sustainable solutions. Chapman and Diana Berman, a materials science and engineering professor working in UNT’s Materials Research Facility, determined that unusual fatty acids discovered in the seed oil of the Chinese violet cress make it a near-perfect lubricant. The findings may pave the way to breeding this common garden plant for its oil, which in part could replace petroleum and even synthetics — a renewable solution to limited resources. The research, conducted with scientists from the University of Nebraska, Huazhong Agricultural University in China and Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, was published in the journal Nature Plants.



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Summer 2019



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Kathleen Wayton

Now the chief information officer for Southwest Airlines, the marketing alum has seen her dreams take flight.


Every Map Tells a Story

GIS helps UNT alumni use spatial context to solve real-world problems.


Great Grads

An unmasked Scrappy gives advice on how to succeed at UNT.


Building Resiliency

Alumni are ensuring communities and businesses can rise above catastrophes.


Mean Green

For the first time since 1977-78, UNT posted a winning record in every sport.


UNT students, alumni become difference-makers

Ryan Cox



First on campus ... Love, UNT style ... More than one ... Instagram and Twitter UNT TODAY • 6

Camping out at UNT ... Brilliantly Green ... Ask an Expert ... UNT Alumni Association

Travel With Care



Finding his beat ... Multi-talented artist ... Getting her word in ... Picture perfect





A delicious endeavor ... Legacy Families ... In the News ... Friends We’ll Miss



A Golden Eagle and his family refuse to quit on dreams for a college degree

Cover: Photography by Ahna Hubnik Allyson Neisig (’19) is one of several UNT alums who have traveled internationally to help communities in need. Summer 2019




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n o r t ht exan .u /o n li n e

ONLINE FEATURES THE FORCE IS WITH THEM Alums who self describe as nerds on LinkedIn explain why it’s cool to care. 100 YEARS OF DEGREES On June 2, 1919, North Texas State Normal College made history by awarding its first-ever four-year bachelor’s degrees to five trailblazing students. PONDERING VIA PODCAST Listen to the first episode of UNT Pod, in which UNT faculty experts and superfans discuss the end of Game of Thrones and its impact on pop culture and politics.

Ranjani Groth

GET CONNECTED Connect with us at Follow us at


Watch us on universitynorthtexas. Follow us at


When you see this arrow, join our North Texan community online at



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Summer 2019

Visit The North Texan online to: • Keep up with what’s happening between issues of The North Texan • Tell us what you think about our stories • Learn more about your fellow alumni • Write memorials about friends we’ll miss • Enjoy an array of additional stories, photos, videos and recordings












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OUR STUDENTS’ SUCCESS IS OUR top priority as an institution and nothing brings me greater joy than graduation day. This spring, we awarded degrees to more than 4,800 students — a UNT single semester record — and celebrated the 100th anniversary of awarding bachelor’s degrees. In the past year, we set many records, including all of our athletics teams posting winning seasons (page 42), and our reputation is growing in measurable ways. We have 72 programs ranked in the Top 100. Students and faculty are earning more national awards than ever before. And recent approval from Texas’ 86th legislative session to fund President Neal Smatresk celebrates with new graduates at the 2019 Grad Block Party. UNT’s Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing will help us develop research and technologies, as well as the engineers of the future, and keep Texas competitive. At UNT, we provide students with opportunities to transform their lives through knowledge that will enable them to make a positive impact on the world. This issue highlights alumni, students and faculty who use geographic information systems to solve real-world problems (page 18), who serve responsibly in the volunteer tourism industry (page 30), and who work to mitigate disasters and economic loss (page 38). Our graduates are trendsetters and trailblazers, making a difference in emerging and transforming fields. Kathleen Wayton (’83) has helped Southwest Airlines soar ahead of competitors (page 16), much like UNT continues to do as the North Texas region’s educational leader. We are in the process of developing our 2020-2025 strategic plan, which will focus on three areas identified by town halls with students, faculty, staff and alumni — student empowerment and transformation, people and processes, and scholarly activity and innovation. Look for more details about our strategic plan and brand refresh early next year. Thank you for making UNT strong and spreading Mean Green pride everywhere you go. If you travel this summer, hashtag your adventures #EaglesAroundTheWorld on social media so the rest of your UNT family can join along. p UNT proud,

Neal Smatresk President




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S COTT B R OW N ( ’10)

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T h e Nor t h Texan The North Texan (ISSN 0468-6659) is published four times a year (in March, June, September and December) by the University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #311070, Denton, Texas 76203-5017, for distribution to alumni and friends of the university. Periodicals postage paid at Denton, Texas, and at additional mailing offices. The diverse views on matters of public interest presented in The North Texan do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the university. Publications staff can be reached at or 940-565-2108. Postmaster: Please send requests for changes of address, accompanied if possible by old address labels, to the University of North Texas, University Relations, Communications and Marketing, 1155 Union Circle #311070, Denton, Texas 76203-5017 The UNT System and the University of North Texas are the owners of all of their trademarks, service marks, trade names, slogans, graphic images and photography and they may not be used without permission. The University of North Texas does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, political affiliation, disability, marital status, genetic information, citizenship, or veteran status in its application and admission processes, educational programs and activities, university facilities, or employment policies, procedures, and processes. The university takes active measures to prevent such conduct and immediately investigates and takes remedial action when appropriate. The university also prohibits and takes actions to prevent retaliation against individuals who report or file a charge of discrimination or harassment; participate in an investigation, or oppose any form of discrimination or harassment. Direct questions or concerns to the equal opportunity office, 940-5652759, or the dean of students, 940-565-2648. TTY access is available at 940-369-8652. Created by the Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing


©2019 UNT URCM 6/19 (19-533)

Summer 2019




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North Texan Let us know what you think about news and topics covered in The North Texan. Letters may be edited for length and publication style. Online: (follow the “Contact Us” link) Phone: 940-565-2108 Fax: 940-369-8763 Email:

First on campus

In the spring issue of The North Texan, there is a picture of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in which the caption states that it was the “first black Greek organization.” I think this caption is misleading because Alpha Phi Alpha was the first black fraternity and Alpha Kappa Alpha was the first black sorority. I am assuming that the caption may be implying that it was the first black Greek organization founded on the UNT campus; however, it is not clear. Jasmine Pulce (’16 M.Ed.) Denver, Colorado



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Editor’s note: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We do need to clarify that the first black Greek organizations on campus were chapters of Delta Sigma Theta sorority and Omega Psi Phi fraternity. They began at North Texas as the Alpha Omega and Alpha Mu Omega social clubs in 1967. (Pictured in the 1968 Yucca are members of Alpha Omega, which would soon become North Texas’ chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.)

Love, UNT style

I met Linda Marie Smith (’68 M.M.Ed.) in June 1963 in Dr. David McGuire’s Admission Seminar 528 when we began work on master’s degrees in music education. Linda was an


Summer 2019

Mail: The North Texan University of North Texas Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing 1155 Union Circle #311070 Denton, Texas 76203-5017

elementary music teacher in Dallas and I taught band in Temple. She was an organist with scheduled lessons and practice time in the old Auditorium Building, causing her to run uphill and arrive at the last minute. In a class of 60, there was always an empty desk next to mine saved for her. We were married the next June and, over our 55 years of marriage, she taught junior high school choirs, was elected to the Texas Choral Directors Association board, was an elementary counselor and in private practice. I taught high school bands and served on the Texas Music Educators Association board as state band chairman and president. Dr. McGuire bragged that we were the first romance to come out of 528. I was a flutist, and Dr. George Morey and his wife, Pat, graciously came to Electra to play in our wedding. He was a professor of flute and director of the

North Texas Symphony Orchestra, and she was a pianist. It was the talk of Electra for years afterward. (The North Texas concert program pictured is from July 1966.) David Pennington (’68 M.M.Ed.) Temple James (’59, ’61 M.Ed.) and I knew each other at Tarleton State in Stephenville. We transferred to UNT a year apart, met by chance on campus and spent time catching up. He asked me for a date, and we saw Friendly Persuasion. We dated throughout that semester, and were married at its end. We taught for 28 and 31 years in the public schools of Texas, raised four children and celebrated our 62nd anniversary in May. Donna Chapman (’62 M.Ed.) Comanche

More than one

It is difficult to pick out one favorite memory of my time on campus. Pat Boone

(pictured in the 1958 Yucca on a return trip to campus) was a classmate and friend, and I enjoyed his presence. We sat beside one another in a class with Professor Huey, who later was president of TWU. I also enjoyed preaching youth revivals through the Baptist Student Union, though that seems strange now. But perhaps the best memory is scheduling classes in our final year with my wife,

Nancy (’58), in order that one of us would be in class while the other would be caring for two little boys who had come to us during college. I fondly recall waiting with my two small sons on Highland Street in our 1950 Chevrolet for their mother to emerge from the Education Building. Then she would drive me near the place where I could rush to my next class. I am now in my 22nd year of retirement, widowed and

involved with my family history. I am serving on the executive council of the UNT Military History Center. I travel a bit. We have several generations of North Texas graduates in the family. One of Nancy’s uncles was business manager, comptroller and treasurer of North Texas State.


Union Fest was a blast! I even met my inter-dimensional self. #UnionFest19 #UNT #SpiderVerse #spiderman — @UNTspiderman

Al Murdock (’58) Denton

UNT Instagram

Final wave! #christinefalls #mountrainier #friendswithphds #thosewhohiketogether #waterfall #pacificnorthwest #awesomeday Also repping @unt hardcore today!!! — coolsjules13

Finally got to take baby z to my alma mater, so we had to take some pictures! #UNT #2016to2019 #backtoschooligo #future — bekahshardai24

Spent the day at my Alma Mater at the UNT inaugural track meet. The track is absolutely beautiful and it was so good to hug and spend the day with so many of my old teammates. So many great memories we reminisced on. Love you guys. Go Mean Green!! #untalumni #teammatesforlife #gomeangreen — thelisaroby

Thank you to the middle schoolers in their UNT tour today for chanting “ART ART ART ART” while I was lugging my canvas thru the Union. — @HenryEvanCat I went to UNT’s La Raza Graduation this weekend and a girl said “Mom remember when you got to this country with 2 kids & 3 suitcases? Look, we made it.” And I am STILL crying about it. — @alma_deee I met a lady last night at #UNT who said it took her 29 years to get her bachelor’s degree and she finally did last night. It took me 4. There is no path to this – there is only your goal and whether you achieve that goal. Follow your path. — @OhSarinaLora Follow us on Twitter. We look forward to staying connected!

@northtexan Summer 2019




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Goldwater Scholars page 14

Michael Clements

CAMPING OUT AT UNT The university offers programs for students of nearly all ages in areas such as art, sports, science and technology.

See a full list of camps and register for programs at



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Summer 2019

DOZENS OF CAMPS AND PROGRAMS AT UNT and UNT at Frisco will educate and entertain students of nearly all ages throughout July and early August. Participants will have the opportunity to explore and learn about the arts, the environment, science, technology, sports and more thanks to offerings such as an animation and game camp, a sports analytics and management camp, and “Explore STEM!,” a computer engineering camp for students with disabilities. “All program leaders and instructors have a rich background in delivering only the best day camp experiences for kids eager to learn more about some of their favorite topics,” says Wesley Randall, dean of UNT at Frisco’s New College.

Ahna Hubnik

Live and Learn Summer Program — The two-week summer program, offered through the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services’ UNT WISE program, is for young adults with disabilities, ages 14-22, who are interested in vocational planning for their future. ( July 7-19 at UNT in Denton) College WISE program — The one-week program, hosted by the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services’ UNT WISE program, is for young adults with disabilities, ages 14-22, who are interested in pursuing a college degree. Participants will engage in a variety of activities aimed at demonstrating the skills necessary to be successful in higher education. ( July 21-26 at UNT in Denton) Language Explorer: Real and Sci-Fi Languages — Students in grades 6-10 can become language tourists and experience speakers the world over. Participants will learn short phrases and write different scripts. They will learn about invented languages like Elvish and Yoda-speak, then use language analysis software to create a dictionary and phrasebook of a language. ( July 22-26 at UNT at Frisco) Language Explorer: Dialects and Fingerprints — Students in grades 6-10 will learn about dialects of American English and conduct linguistic fieldwork on language dialects and how people feel about Texas speech. They will use acoustic software to analyze speech and become a forensic linguist to solve who said a certain phrase. (Aug. 5-9 at UNT at Frisco) Elm Fork Education Center’s Darwin’s Quest — Campers in grades 3-5 will let their imagination travel through time while investigating how an organism of their own creation adapts to an ever-changing environment. Each day will be a new challenge. ( July 8-12 at UNT in Denton) Elm Fork Education Center’s Circle of Life — Campers in grades 2-4 will explore the complex connections of living systems. Every activity is designed to be hands-on, allowing campers to create unique projects that they will be able to take home with them. ( July 15-19 at UNT in Denton) Elm Fork Education Center’s Science of Art — Knowledge of physics, chemistry and even biology can help an artist better understand and visualize the world they live in. Campers in grades 3-5 will experience firsthand how artists use science to make art. ( July 15-19 at UNT in Denton) Animation and Game Camp — The program, for grades 7-12, will teach computer science-related topics with an emphasis on design and programming skills to be applied in virtual environments. Students will build a virtual environment that they can access at home and continue to expand. ( July 15-19 at UNT at Frisco)

Above, UNT’s Elm Fork Education Center is offering several camps for kids this summer, including Darwin’s Quest and Circle of Life. At left, students take part in the Live and Learn program. The program, sponsored by UNT’s Office of Workplace Inclusion & Sustainable Employment, is for young adults with disabilities who are interested in vocational planning for their future. Sports Analytics and Management Camp — Participants in grades 8-12 will learn how to apply data analytics to evaluate player performance, recommend coaching decisions and run a sports business. Topics will include statistical analysis, wearable datacollection technologies, data-driven decision making and how these topics are changing the way sports enterprises are run. ( July 29Aug. 2 at UNT at Frisco) Explore STEM! Computer Engineering — This program is designed for students ages 14-22 with disabilities who have little to no previous exposure to computer engineering and who have an interest in basic programming and computer hardware. The program is offered by the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services’ UNT WISE program in collaboration with the College of Engineering. ( July 29-Aug. 2 at UNT in Denton) Explore STEM! Computer Science — Students ages 14-22 with visual impairments and other disabilities will have the chance to explore basic concepts of coding, learn about website design, and create and test computer hardware and programs. This program is for students with little to no previous experience but who have an interest in programming and coding. The program is offered by the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services’ UNT WISE program in collaboration with the College of Engineering. (Aug. 5-9 at UNT in Denton) Short Story Exploration — Participants in grades 6-8 will learn about the major genres by exploring a new kind of short story each day, including horror, detective and science fiction. This camp is perfect for readers or aspiring writers who want to learn about what makes a great story. ( July 22-26 at UNT at Frisco) Summer 2019




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Pass it on: Great things are happening at UNT. Learn about them here and share our successes with your family and friends.

• Top honor. Jim Cooksey (’71), vice chairman of Newmark Knight Frank and president of Tenant Representation of Texas, was recently named D CEO’s Commercial Real Estate Executive of the Year. The publication recognized him for his forward-thinking approach in the evolution of his real estate firm, Jackson Cooksey, particularly related to its acquisition by NKF. “UNT provided a tremendous blend of challenges and opportunities that laid a solid foundation for me to lead a successful company for more than 30 years,” he says. • Ed tech entrepreneurs. M.B.A. students Michelle Schodowski (’18) and Charles Laws (’18) won first place at the Ed Tech Ascend Pitch Competition — hosted at UNT in March — for their startup Radda. The two were awarded $20,000 to support Radda, an online service that enables musicians to seek and give advice on their compositions.

Ranjani Groth

New student programs

UNT’s College of Information was awarded a three-year, $359,879 grant by the National Science Foundation to develop and operate three 10-week intensive programs that will allow students to



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immerse themselves in data analytics and conduct research in the field. The program, designed to provide a supportive and engaging environment, targets students from populations typically underrepresented in STEM fields, such as Hispanic, African American and female students, according to Junhua Ding (pictured), information science professor and principal investigator. Additionally, UNT’s College of Engineering received a $359,993 REU grant from the NSF to host


Summer 2019

Michael Clements

• Media savant. Young reporter Phoenix Legg was invited to UNT in March to spend the day as an honorary student at the Mayborn School of Journalism. He met UNT President Neal Smatresk and Provost Jennifer Cowley, who surprised him with a special $5,000 scholarship in recognition of his work. The 11-year-old garnered national attention during the 2016 presidential campaign when he convinced his father that the two should travel the nation reporting on political events.

camps on vehicular edge computing and security for the next three summers. The 10-week camps are open to 10 students who come from populations underrepresented in the computer science industry or institutions without the ability to conduct research in this area. Students live on campus and receive a $5,000 stipend and materials needed for their research. Debate win

The UNT Debate Team finished 11th place at the 2019

Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament hosted by Hofstra University, which featured more than 750 competitors from 77 universities and colleges from 28 states. The team also received an excellence award for being in the top 30 percent of competitors. UNT was represented by 13 team members who competed in four debate events and two individual events. Pi Kappa Delta, founded in 1911, is among the oldest forensics organizations in the United States.


UNT business student Anna McKee (’19) was the first woman to win IBM’s collegiate coding contest, Master the Mainframe, last year — and now, she’s done it again. McKee’s win marks the third consecutive time a UNT student has won the competition. McKee is one of two winners and the only woman to win this year for the North American region. She also was ranked in the top three competitors globally, and was the only woman in the winning group.


Aspiring journalists at UNT won major honors at two recent collegiate contests for student media: the Society of Professional Journalists and the Broadcast Education Association.


UNT has added four new bachelor’s degrees in Latino culture, economy and policy; urban policy and planning; general business; and data science.




UNT presented its third Music Entrepreneurship Competition this year, awarding $20,000 in prizes to those with the best music business plans.

Six UNT graduate programs were ranked in the nation’s top 50 by U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 list of Best Graduate Schools.




Master of Public Administration program’s specialty in local government ranked 1st in Texas and 5th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report

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Materials science and engineering graduate program ranked 3rd in Texas by U.S. News & World Report

Student counseling and personnel services master’s program ranked 14th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report

Ranked 2nd in the nation as a top college for financial literacy programs by Summer 2019




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Ahna Hubnik

Cancer research

Julia Christina Ayalde Camacho, a student in UNT’s Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, and Xuexia Wang, an associate professor and researcher of statistics in UNT’s Department of Mathematics, are working together as student and mentor to explore new ways to apply computational biology and statistics to cancer research. Camacho created a computer program that accepts data from patients who survived childhood cancer, learns from that data and predicts the possibility of secondary nervous system cancer as an adult. Children suffering from cancer were often exposed to radiation therapy, Wang says. There is a

linear relation between the dosage of radiation and the risk of developing secondary nervous system cancer. Camacho’s research project took first place in the 2019 Fort Worth Regional Science and Engineering Fair Computer Science Division, won third in the entire science fair and received three special awards. ASM International fellow

Hanchen Huang, dean of UNT’s College of Engineering, recently was elected a fellow of ASM International — the world’s largest materials information society — for his distinguished contributions to the fields of materials science and engineering.

TAMS student Julia Christina Ayalde Camacho explains her project to Charles Conley, chair of the UNT mathematics department, while Camacho’s mentor, associate professor Xuexia Wang, looks on.

Elected by his peers, Huang was recognized for his scientific contributions in developing a theoretical framework of nanorod growth, technological contributions in inventing metallic glue, and entrepreneurship in commercializing the metallic glue. The research led to a new way of sticking items together, such as a computer’s central processing unit to a printed circuit board, without soldering or heat. Astronomy collaboration

As part of an informal collaboration, UNT has completed the successful restoration, update and installation of a half-meter CDK

AUGMENTED REALITY AND ASTRONAUTS Engineering juniors David Woodward, Tim Stern and Juan Ruiz developed an augmented reality sofware application that could change the way astronauts communicate in space. Their work is part of the NASA Spacesuit User Interface Technologies (SUITS) Design Challenge, which tasked students to develop a system to provide real-time visual communication via an astronaut’s helmet visor. The team was one of only 15 finalists in the nation to compete at the design challenge at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.



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Summer 2019

(Corrected Dall-Kirkhand) telescope to be used for student photometric and astrometric research. The BADSCAC (BoyceAstro, Dark Skies, Citizen Astronomy Center) telescope is located at the Dark Sky Observatory near the McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Scientists, researchers and students can access images and control the telescope remotely from anywhere an internet connection is available. The collaboration plans to add a spectrograph to the system, making it one of the highestresolution spectrographic telescopes readily available for small-telescope observations of brighter celestial objects.

Teaching social science methods in Ethiopia



John Ishiyama, a University Distinguished Research Professor in UNT’s Department of Political Science, spent two weeks in March at Bahir Dar University to teach research methods to doctoral students in political science and international relations. The university is located on the shores of Lake Tana in Ethiopia. To give the students a head start, Ishiyama recorded video lectures and sent reading materials prior to his arrival.

Ranjani Groth

DRONE TRAFFIC RESEARCH Kamesh Namuduri, professor of electrical engineering, has joined forces with the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi for a NASA research project focused on ways to safely and effectively manage drone traffic in urban areas. Namuduri and his team of graduate and undergraduate students are creating and testing multiple approaches to facilitate drone-to-drone communication strategies, including cellular, satellite and direct communications. For this project, they’re using tactical radios to establish direct communication between the drones.

“The video lectures introduced students to the conceptual ideas behind social science research,” says Ishiyama, who won the Toulouse Scholar Award at UNT’s 2018 Salute to Faculty Excellence ceremony. “For the in-person lectures, I built on that foundation and explained the various steps of the research process.” The two weeks of in-person training were intensive. Students learned how to enter data, import existing datasets, recode variables and analyze data. Marijke Breuning, also a

political science professor at UNT, assisted in the data analysis training. The twoweek training concluded with students presenting their research designs. This marked the second time Ishiyama has spent two weeks at Bahir Dar University to teach research methods. “The university has no one on staff who can teach quantitative research methods, so the university appreciates that I come to teach this course,” he says. “I cannot think of a better way to spend my spring break.”

UNT International

John Ishiyama (front) spent two weeks at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, teaching research methods to doctoral students in political science and international relations. Summer 2019




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Gary Payne


1 The UNT community gathered May 10 to celebrate new graduates at the university’s annual Grad Block Party, which features food trucks, live music, games, photo ops, Scrappy, and UNT merchandise and memorabilia. The event concluded with fireworks and the UNT Alma Mater at dark.

Ahna Hubnik

2 Students wait to be called to the graduation stage, with many sporting personalized messages on their mortarboards.


Ahna Hubnik

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3 Graduates celebrate in the UNT Coliseum after receiving their degrees. More than 4,800 UNT students graduated in May, ready to achieve their dreams.



Summer 2019


New VP named

James “Jim” Berscheidt has been named the new vice president for marketing and communications at UNT. His appointment began May 14.

An award-winning industry leader with nearly 20 years of experience in public and private higher education, Berscheidt will lead the division to best promote UNT’s mission and increase its regional and national reputation. Berscheidt previously served as chief communications and marketing officer at Creighton University. He recently was named Marketer of the Year of the Omaha chapter of the American Marketing Association.

New CLASS dean

Tamara Brown has been named the new dean of UNT’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Her appointment begins July 1.


In her new role, Brown will be responsible for the largest college on campus, which has 9,000 students and is made up of more than 22 academic departments and programs. Prior to her UNT appointment, Brown spent seven years at Prairie View A&M, where she most recently served as interim dean of the graduate college. Before joining Prairie View, she spent 13 years as a professor in the University of Kentucky’s Department of Psychology.

Ask an Expert

What are the benefits of sports for girls?


aren Weiller Abels has always loved physical activity, even working as an elementary physical education teacher before joining the UNT faculty 25 years ago. Weiller Abels — who serves as associate chair of UNT’s Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation and is this year’s UNT Foundation’s Faculty Leadership Award recipient — has long focused her research on gender issues in media representation of women in sports, along with elementary physical education. “Sports provide an outlet for both girls and women, whether for recreational purposes or for competitive purposes,” she says.

How often should girls participate in physical activity? Daily activity is critical for all youth. Based on the individual, determine what fits into her lifestyle and research recommendations for 60 minutes daily of moderate to vigorous physical activity. How would you suggest parents motivate their children to get involved in sports? Allow your children to choose sports in which they wish to engage. Then discuss the level of participation and commitment as they get older. Help them find an activity or sport they enjoy. This can be on a recreational or a competitive level. Finding friends who enjoy the same activity also may help them stay interested in participating. — Brittney Dear

Summer 2019


Michael Clements

How are sports and body image related? Body image is a very important aspect of sports, where girls can thrive no matter their body type. Sport is for all women of all body types and abilities. It is critical for the media to focus on a woman’s skill and athletic ability, rather than her body type. Parents

should provide the same opportunities for their girls as they do for their boys.



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Gary Payne

to students planning careers in math, science and engineering. Students are chosen on the basis of their scientific research, GPAs and other achievements. CAREER grant winners

Goldwater Scholars

Four students from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at UNT have been named 2019 Goldwater Scholars. UNT leads Texas universities in the number of Goldwater Scholars in math, science and engineering, with

64 named since 1996. The four students, who graduated in May are, from left, Ellen Qian, Jonathan Lu, Rishi Shridharan and David Yue. Goldwater Scholar awards are considered to be among the country’s most prestigious scholarships and are awarded

Eduardo Blanco, an assistant professor in UNT’s College of Engineering, intends to use a five-year, $500,000 NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program grant to teach computers the intricacies of negation. “To a computer trying to understand human language, the word never can be perplex-

ing. What computers don’t seem to understand is that never doesn’t always mean no,” says Blanco, one of 13 UNT faculty to receive the prestigious award that supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education. Alum Joe Louis (’11 Ph.D.), entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, also was awarded a five-year, $1.5 million CAREER grant to fund his investigation of ways to help sorghum naturally resist sugarcane aphids.

Extraordinary research

Ranjani Groth

When Jan Holden decided it was time to pursue her master’s and Ed.D. in counselor education, she chose to focus her research on the extraordinary. In the more than three decades since she first joined UNT to explore the counseling implications of near-death experiences, after-death communication and other transpersonal experiences — those that transcend the usual personal limits of space, time and/or identity — Holden has built the kind of stellar reputation that led to her selection as the 2019 UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award winner. “It’s an unusual topic,” says Holden, who served as president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies and has edited the peer-reviewed Journal of Near-Death Experiences for the past 10 years. “And UNT, where there is an emphasis on creativity and caring, is a perfect place to be able to pursue scholarly research in this area.” In recognition of her advocacy for people who have had transpersonal experiences, Holden — who will retire from UNT in August — was awarded the Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling’s 2013 Research Award and the American Counseling Association’s 2015 Gilbert and Kathleen Wrenn Award for a Humanitarian and Caring Person.



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Summer 2019

Ecology award winner

FEEDING CLINIC The UNT Department of Audiology and SpeechLanguage Pathology is now providing services to children of all ages with feeding and eating challenges. Theresa Kouri, director of the UNT Speech and Language Clinic, and her clinicians work with children who experience any of the following issues while eating: breathing difficulties, coughing or choking, crying, difficulty chewing, vomiting, gagging or refusing to eat certain types of foods. Services are available two days per week and also address speech, language and communication facilitation. The hourlong feeding clinics cost $55, but scholarships are available to families who need assistance. For more information on the UNT Feeding Clinic, contact Kouri at

Ricardo Rozzi, director of UNT’s Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program and professor of philosophy and religion and biological sciences, recently received the Eugene P. Odom Award for Excellence in Ecology Education from the Ecological Society of America. Rozzi was recognized by the society as a thought leader in ecological conservation in theory and in practice. He has written more than 25 books, 150 refereed journal articles and 50 book chapters, both in English and in Spanish. Beyond creating globally recognized education programs and novel teaching activities, Rozzi also engages with governmental policies and the media to build bridges for international approaches to ecological education. Real estate competition

UNT students Renee Looney (’19), Nicholas Williams, Rene Robles, Logan Gregory, Quinton Pisciotta, Jason Hurd and Jasmine Sellers won first place at the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) University Case Competition in March. In the competition, teams from several universities faced the question of how to make value from an underutilized space in Dallas with limited funding and financing problems. The UNT team won $5,000 for its solution.

UNT Alumni Association The UNT Alumni Association is developing a mobile application to help alumni keep the university at their fingertips. The UNT Alumni app will be a user-friendly and personalized guide to staying connected to all things UNT. “We’re launching the UNT Alumni app to make our programs and services easier to access,” UNT Alumni Association Executive Director Rob McInturf says. “It’s a portal to all of our alumni events, and it makes keeping up with UNT news quick and easy.” All alumni and friends will be able to download and use the app for free, but UNT Alumni Association members will have additional access to a membership portal with digital member cards and a searchable discount directory. Alumni also will have the opportunity to go green by joining and renewing within the app. The UNT Alumni app will be available for download on iOS and Android devices through the App Store and Google Play just in time for Mean Green football. To find the app this fall, search the terms “UNT Alumni” or “UNT Alumni Association” in your device’s store. In the meantime, don’t forget to visit events and see a listing in this issue (page 47) to check out the many Mean Green get-togethers the Alumni Association is planning for summer and fall. To join the association or learn more, visit, email or call 940-565-2834.

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Kathleen Wayton by Erin Cristales Photography by Ahna Hubnik


An open mind and lofty ambitions lift marketing alum to new heights as chief information officer at Southwest Airlines.



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athleen Wayton’s (’83) first job was at a Dallas design firm, and like most inaugural forays into the professional frontier, it was no better or worse than fine. The position certainly had some bright spots, particularly in the way it allowed the marketing grad to tap into her innate creativity and knack for problem solving — skills that served her well then, and even better now. It was at home, though, that her imagination really soared, ascending as high as the airplanes that glided above her apartment as they made their way to DFW Airport. The Odessa native had rarely traveled, but as she gazed up at the passenger jets, she could picture herself relaxing on international beaches and strolling through European museums, soaking in the masterpieces that had so captivated her attention during an art history class at North Texas. So one day, Wayton decided to strike a deal with her boss. “I’ll work as a reservation agent for American Airlines for a year and travel,” she promised, “and then I’ll come back.” She never did. Instead, she segued into technology at American, eventually transitioning into a role as an assembler developer. After nearly two decades as a technology leader at American and Sabre, she joined Southwest Airlines in 2004 as senior director of technology. And while it seems cliché to say the sky was the limit, that was the absolute truth: In a company whose top priority is employee satisfaction, Wayton was presented with endless ways to explore her

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talents and, in turn, bolster Southwest’s reputation with customers. “Herb Kelleher always said, ‘Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of their customers,’” says Wayton, who for the past two years has served as Southwest’s senior vice president and chief information officer. “We’re all working toward the same goal — trying to make sure everybody enjoys what they’re doing as they’re making the customer experience better.” A significant piece of that goal for Wayton and her team was the completion of OneRes, which replaced the airline’s 30-year-old reservation system in 2017 with Amadeus’ Altéa platform. The migration to Altéa, spearheaded by Wayton, allows Southwest to optimize its schedule, enhance revenue through improved fare flexibility, automate reaccommodations during irregular operations and support international growth through new distribution capabilities. “OneRes implemented very successfully,” says Wayton, who noted that the system is on track to exceed the $500 million in additional annual profit it was projected to generate for Southwest by 2020. “Having a modern, flexible reservation system gives you so much opportunity.” Currently, Wayton is focused on building increased data integration across the end-to-end customer experience. Once those foundational aspects are set, she says, the company will be able to deliver travel experiences much quicker. And speaking of travel — since she left that design firm in 1984, Wayton has done plenty of it. But the journey that’s taught her the most is her professional one. “Never say no — just take the opportunity,” Wayton says. “When American said I should be an assembler developer, I did it. When Southwest asked me to work in strategic planning, I did it. Having an open mindset led me to where I am today.”

Kathleen Wayton (’83)

different classes, which helped

trip. My son, Korbin, graduated

this is an extrovert company, so

me understand the world better. I

from Norwich University in May,

it’s hard. But you just have to em-

think learning about all the differ-

and we’re going to climb Machu

brace talking to people. Just walk


ent artists and their backgrounds

Picchu and also volunteer at a hos-

around the halls and get to know

was what really made me want to

pital that treats tropical diseases.

the people you work with. It makes


for a great working environment.

The Southwest culture:

How UNT shaped her: Coming from Odessa, it was a

Favorite travel destinations:

The culture fit is a very important

Learn about more

smaller town — so just meeting

The beach is my favorite — in fact,

part of working here. You have to

of our notable and

everybody, the students and

I just got back from Punta Cana.

build relationships — you don’t

the teachers, opened me up to

Everyone was surprised when they

just sit in your office and not go

new experiences. I took a lot of

heard my next trip wasn’t a beach

see people. I’m an introvert, but

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famous alumni.




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Joshua Bova (’16, ’18 M.S.)


Map Tells a Story

by Jessica DeLeón Photography by Ranjani Groth


Through geographic information systems, UNT alumni use spatial context to solve real-world problems. When Joshua Bova (’16, ’18 M.S.) came to UNT as a business major, he figured the Introduction to Geography class would mainly consist of looking at state capitals. But he learned it was more than that. Geography can be used to understand the potential effects of climate change, to determine sites in need of infrastructure and transportation improvements, and to analyze customer profiles and demographics. “I was like, ‘Whoa, wait a second,’” he says. “It’s about connecting places, people and behavior. It’s behavior over time and space.” Bova, so compelled by the subject, switched his major to physical geography and earned his master’s in business geography. Now as a research associate for Invesco, a Dallas-based real estate company, he investigates real estate, economic and demographic data to uncover insightful patterns that help drive the investment decision-making process. And he uses geographic information systems (GIS) — software that employs data and coding to provide solutions for real-world problems using a spatial, or geographic, context — to do it. UNT’s Department of Geography and the Environment offers a GIS certificate for undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to pursue careers in every field imaginable — business, transportation, environment, government planning, emergency management, retail, real estate and health. For example, GIS can be used to make a map of cancer mortality rates, with perhaps rural areas lighting up in one area because of a large elderly population or environmental causes. GIS can give directions, map traffic accidents, analyze voting trends, determine the location of retail centers or predict the formation of sand dunes in New Mexico. “It’s the ability to visualize data,” says Chetan Tiwari, associate professor of geography and the coordinator for the undergraduate GIS certificate. “And how you get a map to tell a story.”

Business of mapping As a sergeant for the U.S. Army on tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bova mapped soldier and enemy movements and supply routes, taking into account such factors as weather and lighting, since the enemy could see better with a full moon. He didn’t realize it at the time, but he was using geography.

“The seed was planted but it didn’t bloom until I was at UNT,” he says. When he took his first geography course from associate professor Alexandra Ponette-González, he was fascinated by the way she communicated “the intricacies of how the world works on a simple, yet refined, level.” “Only a few weeks into the semester I knew my calling was in the world of geography,” Bova says. He participated in internships with the city of Denton’s solid waste and sustainability divisions. For his master’s thesis, he used GIS to analyze how retail chains affected local retailers within certain districts in Denton. At his current company, Bova identifies the best real estate assets in the best locations by using geographic techniques and spatial data. One sector he focuses on is retail. For example, he looks at factors such as demographics and if signage can be viewed from the freeway. A chain store wouldn’t want its locations too close to each other. A hail damage repair shop wouldn’t be located where it doesn’t hail. He focuses on a geographically defined area to see how many people live there and to gather other information, such as their drive time to and from work. His team develops a grid system that takes all those disparate data sources and combs them for specific locations so they can create more detailed trade areas. “Everything is located somewhere and the ‘why’ is what we’re interested in,” Bova says.

Making visual connections Faustina Ankomah (’01 M.S.) was used to creating maps with pencils and stencils. But that changed when she was introduced to GIS as a geography and sociology undergraduate student at the University of Ghana. “The maps were alive,” she says. “You could tweak the data. You could change the data. And you could change the map because they had different color palettes.” Now working as a senior information systems analyst for XTO Energy,

Jennifer Holland (’08, ’11 M.S.)

Faustina Ankomah (’01 M.S.)

Zongpei Tang (’06 M.S.)

Ankomah brings together information with GIS. “If you can see it on a map, you can remember,” she says. “I can give you a lot of statistics and data trying to form associations and you can walk away without remembering the exact statistics. If I show the area of concentration — this red area is ground zero — you can easily make an association.” Ankomah came to UNT for her master’s degree on the advice of her brother Kweku Donkor (’01 M.S.), who also majored in applied geography and now works for the Federal Aviation Administration in Frederick, Maryland. For her thesis, Ankomah conducted a geographic analysis of teen births in North Texas, finding that socioeconomics was a more prevalent factor than race. After graduating, she worked as a GIS analyst and coordinator for the Denton Central Appraisal District from 2002 to 2008, then served a yearlong stint as a consultant for the city of Denton before landing her job at XTO Energy. In her current position as scrum master, she makes sure that the team’s tasks — such as development and testing — are aligned. “Once things go from progress to done, I get a rush of happiness,” she says. For XTO, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, the team could be finding oil and gas around the United States. If 500 gas wells show up on a map, but 200 wells show up in one particular area, then that raises questions. “What is it about that area that makes it easier to dig gas?” Ankomah says. “The rock formation on the surface will make you look at things further down. The visual connections are easier to remember with maps.”

Joy of coding While working as an intern and geographer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jennifer Holland (’08, ’11 M.S.) was approached by her bosses. Would she be willing to write code in GIS? “That one question has definitely

picture of what the city looked like,” he says. “I felt like I was a giant in a small world when I was reading the map. I could find a shortcut to the museum from my home, locate the park I had never been to before and do much more. That was the magic of the map.” Now as a senior GIS project manager in the Richardson office for Halff Associates, an engineering consulting firm, he manages GIS projects, conducts geospatial data analysis and creates maps that help stakeholders make decisions. The maps display major natural and manmade features — such as water, endangered species habitats, parks and transportation networks — so the public can understand environmental constraints. “GIS marries art and science perfectly,” he says. “It can handle complicated spatial analysis and modeling, and also visualize geospatial data and their spatial relationships through art.” Tang earned his undergraduate degree in China, majoring in economic geography and urban planning. He worked briefly for a government agency but wanted to get back into geography — particularly GIS, because it meshed with his interest in computers. He chose to pursue his graduate degree at UNT after he was offered a teaching assistant position. For his thesis, he developed a “fuzzy modeling approach” using GIS to assist people in finding the best residential locations based on factors such as school rankings and proximity to parks and retail centers. Tang has been at Halff since 2007, where he’s working on a project for FEMA that updates the flood insurance map for several North Texas counties. The map, using hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, will feature a 100-year floodplain that shows which properties need to buy insurance. He says the map helps the public and decision makers understand environmental constraints and make better decisions. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” Tang says. “A map is even better.”

shaped and guided my career,” she says. She was already enrolled in the GIS programming class taught by geography professor Pinliang Dong, and her bosses’ query led her to translate her GIS skills for the federal agency, which provides engineering and construction for infrastructures, waterways and recreation areas. By writing code to automate tasks or create custom GIS web applications, she can create online maps and webpages showing information the agency needs to manage. “It takes a special mind to write code, and I didn’t realize I had that,” she says. “The process is kind of addictive. It’s like solving algebra problems all day. It’s very exhilarating when you get it done.” Holland says geography makes her happy, combining her love for the outdoors and geology — she collects rocks — with meteorology and hydrology. “I’ve always wanted to help people through my work in whatever way I could,” she says, “and there’s a geographic component to everything we see.” For her thesis at UNT, she used a factor analysis and other statistical and spatial techniques to understand the groundwater quality of the Trinity Aquifer and the influences on it, such as hydrochemical processes, agricultural activities and land use. “My analysis helped us to understand the aquifer better,” says Holland, who also works as a GIS adjunct professor at Tarrant County College. “In my thesis and career, I’ve wanted to find subjects I love and use GIS to understand them.”

Helping the community When he was a high school student in China, Zongpei Tang (’06 M.S.) received a gift — a map with an aerial photograph of his hometown of Kunming, China. His best friend, a middle school classmate who was crazy about maps, thought Tang would enjoy them too. Tang looked at that map every day, fascinated that he could see the stadium, a park, roads, mountains and streams. “It was the first time that I had a whole Summer 2019




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HIGHER DEGREE OF SUCCESS ADVANCE YOUR CAREER WITH A GRADUATE DEGREE FROM UNT You’re ready for something more. You want a competitive edge that opens the door to limitless opportunities. You want to be at the top and to define your own success. You want UNT. A graduate degree from the University of North Texas will help you pursue your goals all the way to the top. This is your moment to soar to a higher degree.

Learn more at or Toulouse Graduate School 1155 Union Circle #311277 Denton, Texas 76203-5017 940-565-2383



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Upcoming Events

Kara Dry

page 25

FINDING HIS BEAT One of the most versatile drummers in the music business got his start as a student in the One O’Clock Lab Band.

Learn how a chance encounter in Denton led to one of Bissonette’s first jobs at

GREGG BISSONETTE (’81) WANTED TO PLAY IN A band at age 5 when he heard The Beatles. Now the former One O’Clock Lab Band member drums for Ringo Starr. After graduation, Bissonette moved to Los Angeles to work on demos and other gigs when he got the call to play for the Maynard Ferguson Band in 1982. He joined two other alumni who attended North Texas from 1979 to 1981 — his brother Matt, a bassist who now tours with Elton John, and Ron Pedley, a pianist who has played for Barry Manilow. Since then, Bissonette has been playing non-stop, performing with David Lee Roth, Santana and Electric Light Orchestra, among others. And he returned to campus in March to present a workshop for the College of Music, delivering anecdotes and giving away drum equipment to students. “My job in life is to try to bring light, not darkness,” he says. “I am so blessed. I’m fulfilling my dream as a kid — I get to do it.” Summer 2019




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Muse Books Invisible infrastructure Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is embedded in everything from clothing to the microchips injected into pets. The tags wirelessly transmit data and are used to sort billions of objects and bodies. Jordan Frith, associate professor of technical communication, explores its social impact in A Billion Little Pieces: RFID and Infrastructures of Identification (Cambridge: MIT Press).

“I got inspired to look beneath the surface of things to find out how objects worked and how RFID is embedded inside other things and then links them to larger infrastructures,” he says.

Century America (University of North Carolina Press). She studied African American activists, including Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, who saw proper food habits as part of their political program to secure African American civil rights. Food and activism “They were hardly alone in In the 1990s, their interest in food politics, Jennifer Jenand the American obsession sen Wallach was fascinated with food decisions is hardly new,” she says. by the rise of food TV and celebrity Free society chefs. She soon discovered that What makes the American obsession with a modern food practices wasn’t new. free society? Wallach, associate professor Sociology proof history, explores African fessor Milan American eating habits in Every Zafirovski Nation Has Its Dish: Black Bodexplores the ies and Black Food in Twentieth question in his book Identifying

a Free Society — Conditions and Indicators (Haymarket Books). He uses four conditions — a free economy, a free political system or democracy, a free civil society or private sphere of life, and a free culture — and draws on empirical data to compare countries around the world. “The first inspiration was academic and theoretical, to apply a sociological holistic perspective on the subject,” he says. “The second was a real-life one, to address whether and how Western and similar societies differ in elements of a modern free society, thus freedom.”

Multi-talented artist As a student studying trumpet performance and jazz studies at UNT, Phillip Kennedy Johnson (’03 M.M.) was struck by a Neil Slater quote on the jazz studies board that said “Every day is an audition.” And he remembered what wind studies director Eugene Corporon always liked to say, “You never know who you’re sitting next to.” Those words constantly reminded Johnson to do his best. And he’s done just that. He is a trumpet player and sergeant first class in the prestigious U.S. Army Field Band of Washington, D.C. He also is a comic book writer and graphic novelist whose book Last Sons of America will be made into a Netflix TV series starring Peter Dinklage. The book explores two brothers who serve as adoption agents after a biological attack makes it impossible

“Every storyteller wants their story told to as many people as possible, and the potential for millions of people to experience Last Sons is a dream come true, especially since it deals with real-world issues I care a lot about,” he says. Johnson learned to read from comic books as a child and began writing comics when his brother Bill Hensley pursued a career as an illustrator. They researched how to make comics and attended conventions, leading Johnson to write Last Sons, which eventually led to writing for Kong: Gods of Skull Island, Aquaman, Planet of the Apes, Batman and more. His two careers share several similarities. “Every voice in a combo plays an enormous role in shaping the product, and replacing any one person completely changes the music,” Johnson says. “Every creator in a comic’s creative team plays an enormous role, and in an ideal creative process, everyone’s work is affected by everyone else’s work in the group. Both mediums are inherently collaborative, which allows for much more creative and spontaneous work than any artist could create alone.”



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SGM Rob McIver

to conceive children in the U.S.

Getting her word in

Camera Shy

Samantha Hastings (’09 M.S.) tore through the 19th century novel Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, eagerly awaiting the next plot twist. “I kept turning pages and wondering how she was going to wrap everything up in time,” she says. “Spoiler — she didn’t.” Gaskell died without finishing the book. And that got Hastings thinking. That led her to write the young adult novel The Last Word (Macmillan), about a young 19th century woman, Lucinda Leavitt, who investigates her favorite author after she dies without completing her serialized novel. Hastings credits her classes at UNT for helping her to learn about books and the library world. “My storytelling classes helped me understand the importance of voice and hearing your words spoken,” she says. Hastings, who is based in Salt Lake City, says she’s wanted to write since she first read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. “I love being a writer of historical fiction because you get to combine real events with characters from your own imagination,” she says. “But the best part is wearing pajamas all day long.”

Dance and Theatre

Elliet Jorden

Networking in theatre

As a senior theatre major, Tanner Smithson (’19) had an internship that included meetings with top Broadway executives and drinks with actors Bryan Cranston and Tony Goldwyn. Smithson served as a theatre operations intern in February for the Shubert

Organization, where he worked at three New York City theaters showing the plays Network, starring Cranston and Goldwyn, To Kill a Mockingbird and King Lear. He landed the internship thanks to a recommendation from theatre professor Andy Harris and says the experience reaffirms his plans to pursue a career as a producer. The Terry Scholar helped revamp UNT’s University Players club into the UNT Drama Lab to include more student-driven productions. “I love the people who make up the Broadway community,” Smithson says.

Upcoming Events

Current and recently graduated ceramics students in the Master of Fine Arts program in the College of Visual Arts and Design will show off their small- and large-scale works through July 6 at UNT on the Square. Learn more at Abounding Dignity: Selections from the Permanent Collection features paintings, prints, ceramics and sculpture from the College of Visual Arts and Design art collection that suggest moments of human dignity. It runs from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, through Sept. 7 at the UNT Art Gallery, with entry from the Art Building Courtyard. The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference will explore “Justice in America” as its theme July 19-21 in Grapevine. The 15th annual event for writers, sponsored by the Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism, will feature keynote speakers Nikole Hannah-Jones, a MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow who has written about education reform and reporting on racial re-segregation in schools; Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author known for his books on the Civil Rights movement, including the trilogy America in the King Years; and Hampton Sides, whose books, such as Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission, depict gripping nonfiction adventures. Learn more at The College of Music’s Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor David Itkin, will perform Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Opus 97, and Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini, Opus 32, at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18. The Wind Symphony, led by Eugene Migliaro Corporon, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19. And new faculty member Andrew Trachsel will conduct the Symphonic Band as it performs at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26. All three concerts will be in the Winspear Performance Hall of the Murchison Performing Arts Center. For ticket information, visit

Visit for more upcoming events.

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Daniel Driensky

In this digital age, Daniel Rodrigue (’08, ’10 M.J.) prefers the Polaroid camera. “When each photo is taken with a Polaroid camera, a little chemical magic happens as the photograph develops and appears before the subject’s eyes,” he says. “It’s a very what-you-see-is-what-you-get medium that’s extremely limiting for a photographer because you can’t edit the photo after it’s taken like you can with digital images.” Rodrigue’s interest led him to co-found the Instant Film Society, which sponsors annual PolaWalks and PolaCons — gatherings in which fans learn more about film and techniques. Rodrigue, who is a professor of journalism and photography at Brookhaven College in Dallas, won the 2019 Excellence in Teaching/Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award at Brookhaven and was named the 2019 Texas Intercollegiate Press Association’s Adviser of the Year. He began PolaCon in 2012 without a budget, spreading the word through the media. More than 250 fans from the U.S., Europe and Canada attended last year’s event in Denton. “From the regular PolaWalks to our annual PolaCon, the coolest part of the Instant Film Society is meeting other instant film aficionados from across Texas, the U.S. and, now, the world,” he says.

Manuel Rotenburg

Backstage view

Having danced all his life, Kasson Marroquin (’12) suffered an ongoing joint disorder, forcing him to quit in 2007. In his freshman year at UNT, he was assigned to the crew for a dance concert. “I vividly remember listening to the stage manager calling the show while watching from



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backstage and realized I could be just as intimately involved in the entire process as a stage manager as I could be as a performer,” the theatre arts major says. Marroquin is now stage manager for the dance company Pilobolus, based in New York and Connecticut, and is a freelance stage manager in New York City. He stage managed numerous productions in DallasFort Worth before earning his master’s degree in stage management from the University of California-San Diego, and


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he has worked in regional and off-Broadway theatre and in the opera and music worlds. “I love bridging communication and connection amongst collaborators,” he says, “and helping to make sure that everyone has what they need within the process in order to do their best work.”

“The energy was electrifying,” Button says. “Pete Townshend was in great spirits and really seemed to be having a blast, which is always contagious.”

Making connections

Music Gig of a lifetime

Cameron Jordan

Picture perfect

Jon Button (’94) says his current job is the highlight of his career. Button, a jazz studies major, has been playing bass on tour with the legendary rock band The Who for the past two years. He got the gig after performing on numerous film projects, including Batman Beyond, and working with artists such as Shakira and Sheryl Crow. “It’s an honor and a thrill,” he says of working with The Who. “It’s fun, it’s frightening, it’s exciting, it’s a lot of pressure and it’s the best thing ever.” The most memorable moment was when the band played the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2017, attracting a crowd of 100,000.

Jami Dauber (’94 M.M.) made history when she became the first female trumpet player in the One O’Clock Lab Band. Now the jazz studies major uses her talent as a performer for Broadway shows and recording sessions, and as part of the all-female DIVA Jazz Orchestra, which was recently featured on NPR and includes trombonist Sara Jacovino (’05, ’08 M.M.). “Many components come together to create a Broadway musical,” Dauber says. “There is so much incredible music that comes from Broadway shows, so I really enjoy playing in the orchestra pits. The difference in playing with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra is that our performance is entirely about the music. We get to make a connection with the audience, and I love making that personal connection.”

Making the news

John J. Custer (’10) oversees the art for one of the most influential opinion pages in the world. Custer, a communication design graduate, serves as art director for The New York Times’ opinion section.

considered local, national and international content sparks so much joy in me,” he says.

The necessity of beauty

Rachel Cox

Visual Arts

His biggest challenge? Time. He has six to seven hours to finish the page, from finding an illustrator to designing the page. He asks himself if the article’s artwork should be created by an artist of a specific culture or identity. He also has to make sure the art works with the copy and decide if the text can be art itself. And if breaking news happens, the whole page can be replaced. His favorite part of the job? Collaborating with the writers, editors and artists. “To work with individuals who are simply seeking to better educate the masses with trusted, thoughtful and

As photographer Rachel Cox (’06) helped with funeral arrangements for several family members, she noticed a common thread. Many of the decisions involved the ways the lighting,

furniture and flowers looked. Cox, who is an assistant professor of photography at the University of Iowa, began to shoot a series on the necessity of beauty while processing grief. One of those photos of a bouquet encased in acrylic cubes was used to illustrate a Time magazine article, “How a Common Death Ritual Made It Harder to Mourn the Loss of My Mother,” by Sallie Tisdale. “In my experience, having a very beautiful, tangible object to focus your grief on provides welcomed comfort,” Cox says.

A space for exploration Inside Explorium Denton Children’s Museum sits aArts life-sized Operation Five illustrious alumni from the College of Visual and Design had game, an interactive play place and workspace thatof offers their artwork highlighted during thea grand opening UNT engaging ArtSpaceweekly Dallas. projects such asgallery creating ornaments to CVAD’s newest is wooden located in the lobbyatofChristmastime. the renovated It’s UNTallSystems ensure noatone is Main boredStreet when in they walk into the museum, a dedicated space Building 1901 Dallas. for“We children openedtobyshare Anyahwith Martinez (’99,of’04 M.S.)and in 2018. are excited residents Dallas surrounding areas human development and family studies Martinez and her theAopportunity to view artworks from UNT’sgraduate, talented faculty and alumni,” team first began Explorium in 2012 as Robertson. a mobile learning center that traveled says Director of UNT Galleries Tracee “This gallery brings the to eventsoflike the Arts Denton Market. As a mother, wanted to College Visual andCommunity Design closer to Dallas and the she outlying commuincrease nities.” the family-friendly educational activities offered in Denton. “There’s plenty of outdoor space in Denton,” says, “and our libraries The gallery officially opened in December butshe welcomed visitors from Michael Clements

and parks are wonderful. But there weren’t a lot of opportunities for getting Denton, Dallas and surrounding hands-on learning play.” areas for the grandthrough opening, which featured the works of Shirin Askari Martinez, executive of Explorium, had no previous experience ( 08), a fashion alumnadirector and former runningRunway a museum, but she says the learning process for her and her eight Project participant; Brian Fridge ( 94), staff members hasexhibited, been worthamong it to bring active-learning to area whose videos are other places, at theopportunities Whitney Museum of children. American Art in New York; Howard Sherman ( 06 M.F.A.), whose paintings are “We’re all learning together,” she says, (“so very rewarding.” exhibited internationally; Erick Swenson 99),that’s a sculptor best known for his polyurethane resin sculptures of animals; and Dana Tanamachi ( 07), known thelettering physicaland museum space — located at 5800 I-35ofNorth — has only been open for a short time, there’s already a need to student expand. Gabriel Part of the forThough her chalk work with Target and Nike. A trio the College of Music’s excellent jazz musicians headed by graduate Evans popularity is driven by activities like those offered in the creative workspace, which change weekly and are typically based around a theme, such as nature. helped make the evening special. “Some things we do here are craftier, and some are a lot more technical,” Martinez says. “So sometimes, we’ll have snap circuits or robots. Sometimes it’s For more information, visit painting — but it’s always working with your hands.” At Explorium, parents are encouraged to interact with their children, and family memberships are available. The museum also partners with schools in Denton ISD to offer summer educational camps. “Every day, I see proof that this was a need in our community,” Martinez says. “Whether it’s children who don’t want to leave or parents thanking us on their way out the door — that’s the reward.”

— Madeline Greene Summer 2019




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New UNT grads, including the now-unmasked Scrappy, are ready for their next challenge.


verybody’s seen him, yet nobody knows his true identity. It sounds like the setup for a riddle or a superhero movie, but it’s the reality for UNT’s Scrappy — the mascot life, it turns out, entails keeping a pretty awesome secret close to the vest, at least until graduation. But now that he’s crossed the Coliseum stage — in oversized Eagle feet, no less — Mac Neuroth (’19) can reveal he was the man behind the mask. Here, the biology graduate discusses his journey at UNT and what it was like to spend two years as one of the university’s most recognizable characters.

What made you decide UNT was the right fit? When I toured UNT, I fell in love with the campus. Even though it’s a big school, it has a small-school vibe and you don’t feel



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like just another number. My organic chemistry teacher, Dr. Sushama Dandekar, encouraged me in the field and eventually asked me to serve as her study group leader, helping other students with anything they didn’t understand from the lecture. She later helped me with my personal statement for dental school. I’m forever in her debt.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a transfer student, and how did you overcome them? Shyness was the biggest obstacle I faced after transferring to UNT my junior year. It was hard for me to make new friends at first. But after some spitballing, I decided to get involved. During my first semester, I attended a Pre-Dental Society

meeting. The group turned out to be a great resource for how to pave my way to becoming a dentist. I got to shadow my hometown dentist in high school, but it was really when I came to UNT that I decided this was where I would put all my effort. I eventually became the treasurer of the group, which has been an invaluable experience for me, and it’s where I made most of my best friends.

What led you to audition to be Scrappy? Tracy Frier, assistant director of spirit and traditions at the UNT Student Activities Center, sent an email to the student body asking: “Do you have what it takes to be Scrappy? Sign up now.” I was still trying to find where I fit in, so I thought I’d give mascot tryouts a shot since I was a mascot in high school. I went in and auditioned and walked around in the suit. I never thought I’d make it, but I worked hard and put myself out there — and I was chosen.

What was it like to be Scrappy? Being Scrappy has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career. It helped me overcome my shyness. Behind the uniform, I had become comfortable going up to anyone to greet or sit with them. That attitude stayed with me even when I wasn’t Scrappy. Now, I could easily talk and sit with new people. I learned that they may be just as shy as I was and are eager to get to know people. And being Scrappy really helped me realize what it means to be a Mean Green Eagle and how important traditions are at UNT. Aside from crowd surfing at Apogee during football games and dancing with the cheerleaders, dancers and singers at the bonfire during Homecoming, I’ve been part of the New Orleans and Albuquerque bowl games and competed at the Daytona Cheer Nationals. But the biggest thrill has been how I’ve been able to make fans, who often were complete strangers, happy. Someone could have been having the worst day of their life, and I was the one to turn it around and bring them joy. When I put on that Scrappy suit, I realized I helped to embody UNT and what makes this school great. We’re inclusive and the student body is very close. It’s been the greatest honor to be UNT’s mascot and spread that joy with the fans.

What are your future plans? I’ll be starting at the UT Health Houston School of Dentistry in the fall and was accepted into its summer research program, where I’ll be helping my mentor conduct research on how aging affects the sealants in teeth. With so many people who don’t have access to dental care, I hope to offer more affordable care to my patients one day.

Sarina Davidson (’19) When Davidson was born, she remained in the NICU for a month, undergoing multiple surgeries to correct a diaphragmatic hernia and missing left lung. Growing up thinking she wouldn’t live past the age of 5, she was determined to tackle every challenge head on — including acceptance to college. Now, Davidson — who in 2018 faced another set of health challenges — will use her integrative studies degree in her role at Pinnacle Technical Resources, where she will advise others facing similar struggles. “I believe I have a purpose on this Earth to inspire others,” she says.

Viridiana Lopez Barcenas (’19) Lopez always wanted to be a teacher. Because of her undocumented status, she thought it was a dream that would never be realized. But thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act of 2012 — and lots of hard work — she saw that dream come true when she walked across the UNT stage in May. She hopes to use her degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on bilingual education to teach third grade, but she’s open to whatever comes her way. “I want to be an advocate for the children I will teach,” she says. “I want to inspire them.”

Read more Great Grad stories at

Ryan Cox (’97) measures the lip thickness of a queen conch at the Port Honduras Marine Reserve in Belize.

Belize was rife with plants and wildlife, and scientists from Earthwatch worked to ensure the sustainability of the region with help from volunteers like Cox.

As the volunteer tourism industry continues to expand, UNT students and alums find ways to help communities at home and abroad, while also considering the importance of serving responsibly. by Erin Cristales

Scuba diving was nothing new for Ryan Cox (’97). Whenever the computer science alum accrued a little vacation time from his IT role at IBM, he happily headed for open waters, mask and tank in tow. Measuring the lip thickness of queen conch — now that was a different story. Because at the southern tip of Belize, in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Cox was taking both a literal and figurative plunge: using his diving skills not just for recreation, but to aid in essential research. Through the Earthwatch Institute — which funds programs that unite researchers, conservation volunteers, nongovernmental organizations and businesses to Cox trekked through the Borneo rainforest as part of a 2009 Earthwatch trip that centered on the effects of climate change build a more sustainable environment — Cox there. The research, Cox says, is “eye opening.” was helping local scientists determine how the overharvesting of queen conch was affecting the marine ecosystem. That meant he was responsible for some of the project’s “grunt work.” He dove three times a day to lay transects, and on an underwater tablet, he counted the conch within each one. He also measured the conch’s lips to identify their age, which determines their potential for repopulation. “I was scuba diving every day, and what was even better is that it was for a good cause,” says Cox, who has taken part in two other trips: one in 2002 that focused on “I was scuba diving every coral bleaching near San Salvador Island, day, and what was even and one in 2009 that centered on climate better is that it was for a change in Borneo’s rainforest. “It’s a win-win good cause.” for everyone — the scientists can focus on the overarching goals of their project, and the volunteers learn a ton about the research. It’s eye opening.”

— ryan cox (’97)

(’90) hugs a child from a mountain village near p Tipp Ti Jo Tipping Joy Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala, where Tipping and other St.. Mar St WorldV Wo WorldVentures Foundation volunteers helped build a bottle school.

The WorldVentures Foundation Foundattion i volunteers dance with schoolchildren who ultimately attended the school they helped build. “For them to have a school in that village was a miracle,” Tipping says.

“You get to know the kids — that made it hard to leave — but at least you leave knowing they’ll have a chance at an education. It was the best vacation I’ve ever been on.”

— joy tipping (’90)

A GROWING INDUSTRY Cox’s experience falls under the umbrella of what is referred to as “volunteer” or “service-based” tourism, a booming industry that sees an estimated 1.6 million tourists spending as much as $2 billion annually. The trend began as a way for NGOs to support long-term international volunteers with short-term support in projects ranging from conservation and construction to education and health services. And while there have been plenty of positive outcomes since — including, as in Cox’s case, volunteers performing rote tasks that enable experts to focus on their mission’s bigger picture — debate often swirls as to whether travelers’ good intentions can

unintentionally lead to bad results. These include disruption of local economies and cultures and hindering of the work. “I genuinely feel most of these communities are thankful for help with infrastructure development and the establishment of projects that enable them to be self-sufficient,” says Birendra KC, an assistant professor in UNT’s Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management whose research interests include nature-based and community-based tourism. “But that only happens if there is a proper way of doing things — most importantly, a very specific schedule of the tasks that need to be completed along with a clear vision of how volunteers can truly help the community.”

Over the years, many UNT students and alums have ventured out on service-based trips, which break down into categories such as ecotourism and community and urban outreach. Those experiences have been utt invaluable, they say, particularly in thinking about how to be responsible travelers and better evaluate alluatee th tthee efficacy of volunteer organizations. “I learned how important it is to look for the he most mostt productive ways to contribute to the community,” commu uni nity ty,”,” says Chris Welhausen (’16), an advertising who verrti t sing alum alu lum mw ho volunteered in Nepal in 2013 and nd now w workss ass a traffic traffi ffic manager at Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing dvocac acy Mark kettin ng in Austin, which focuses solely on campaigns social aigns forr so oci ciaal good. “If you have particular skills, it makes sen sense nsee ttoo usee them to give back.”

GAINING PERSPECTIVE It was a 90-minute bus trek to the mountain village near St. Martín Jilotepeque, Guatemala, where Joy Tipping (’90) and her fellow WorldVentures Foundation volunteers were tasked with helping to build a bottle school for local children in 2016. All the way up, Tipping was struck by the beauty of the countryside, and by the trash that littered it — piles of soda bottles and chip bags and candy wrappers. “There’s nowhere to put it, and they can’t burn it,” she says. In conjunction with Hug It Forward — an international, U.S.-based grassroots organization that raises awareness of improved trash management methods through the construction of bottle classrooms — the WorldVentures volunteers completed construction projects throughout the week. Tipping cut rebar to help construct the school and, on the weekends, was visited by village children who were eager to help. The villagers pre-stuffed 20-ounce plastic drink bottles with non-biodegradable trash until they were dense enough to serve as bricks for the school. “For them to have a school in that village was a miracle,” says Tipping, a broadcast journalism alum. “You get to know the kids — that made it hard to leave — but at least you leave knowing they’ll have a chance at an education. It was the best vacation I’ve ever been on, and everyone was just so welcoming.” Jamie Johnson (’01), a lecturer in UNT’s Department of Anthropology, says the reaction of local communities to volunteer travelers is key to understanding whether the organizations those volunteers are affiliated with are helping or hurting. While that can be impossible to gauge until you arrive, there are other ways to do your homework.

“You have to make sure the volunteer travel organization has a reputation for doing good website work. Check out their global presence, websit and and reviews. You also have to be mentally a physically prepared for the destination you’re you unintentionally traveling to — you don’t want to uninten help. And end up being a burden instead of a he society and do your homework — what are the so people like, what are their pressing needs and what is your role in addressing th those needs? It is absolutely necessary to put so some thought into how to best utilize the availabl available time, money and energy to make a long-term positive impact.” — BIRENDRA KC, ASSISTANT PROFE PROFESSOR IN THE DEPARTMENT EPARTMENT OF HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM MANAGEMENT

“Figure out what you like before you pick a destination. I love ove th the water, so I tend to pick places close to the ocean. When choosing an organization, look for ones that provide detailed descriptions of the activities, so you know exactly what you’ll be doing each day.” — RYAN COX (’97), EARTHWATCH VOLUNTEER

“Think about the language skills that you have or want to develop, and the regions of the world that interest you. Consider a place that might challenge you in a good way — you don’t have to be 100 percent comfortable abroad. A little bit of discomfort can help us understand who we are.” — ANTHONY SPENCER (’03 M.J.), OWNER OF EXPLORE STUDY ABROAD

“Put aside your idea of what a vacation is — don’t expect that you’re going to work half a day and go shop the rest of the day. Don’t take anything you mind getting muddy. Research the organization and figure out where the money is going.” — JOY TIPPING (’90), WORLDVENTURES FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER

ONLINE O EXTRAS Check heck out a slideshow of alums’ photos abroad. Read more about Neisig, who was featured as part of UNT’s “Great Grads” series. Learn more about UNT’s Alternative Service Breaks program.

“Those experiences are going to stick with me the rest of my career. I’m much more aware now. Human trafficking is such a hidden topic, but it’s important for everyone to realize it happens in the U.S., too.”

— Allyson neisig (’19) “It’s imperative for the traveler to understand who these organizations are, how long they’ve been there, when they were founded and by whom, and if they were invited into the community or just suddenly appeared,” Johnson says. “It’s important to remember that any kind of tourism is irreparably tied to the global market, and at some level, these communities are going to feel commodified. But ethnographer João Afonso Baptista posed the question: ‘Can tourists be the solution rather than the problem?’ I think if you’re a traveler and keep that question in mind, then the answer can be yes.” For Welhausen, whose volunteer trip to Nepal involved working as a caretaker at an orphanage for children of Tibetan refugees, the vacation tapped into his already well-honed love of community outreach. As a member of the service group Alpha Phi Omega at UNT, he was volunteering with numerous organizations, including Keep Denton Beautiful. “I’m a big believer in serving your community first — there are a ton of problems at your back door, so you don’t have to travel far to help,” he says. “But if you’re already doing that, why not combine travel with giving back?” So in 2013, Welhausen signed up with International Volunteer HQ, which offers service opportunities in more than 40 countries. He was stationed in Pokhara, a town by the Himalayas, where he was “constantly blown away,” he says. He spent three weeks at the orphanage, helping with homework, preparing meals and walking the children to school. They laughed together, played soccer and swam. And though it was an unforgettable experience, he says he couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe he could have contributed in a more permanent way. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I want to do projects where it’s more about getting a job done, something that will last and help the community for a long time,” he says. “I want my next trip to be a construction-related project, like building schools in South America.”

A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING In August, Allyson Neisig (’19) will begin her studies at the New England School of Law. It’s not the path the

criminal justice graduate pictured for herself when she entered UNT in 2015, but that was before — before she signed up for a study abroad trip to Romania in 2017, before she returned to the region on her own a year later, before she realized the prevalence of human trafficking not only internationally but right here in the U.S. “Those experiences are going to stick with me the rest of my career,” says Neisig, who on her study abroad trip worked with Open Door, a foundation that provides full assistance and emergency shelter to victims of human trafficking. “I’m much more aware now. Human trafficking is such a hidden topic, but it’s important for everyone to realize it happens in the U.S., too. ” In June 2018, Neisig returned on her own to work with Open Door, following a two-week stop in Thailand through We are Bamboo, where she helped build roads in local villages and the foundation for an elephant hospital. In Romania, her trip involved working at Open Door’s shelter, where she assisted with rehabilitation activities, observing and asking questions along the way. When she returned to UNT in the fall, she detailed her findings at an international human trafficking conference hosted by the University of Toledo. There she talked with law professors and realized that, as a lawyer, she could advocate in various capacities for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. But that determination started, she says, with the decision to use her study abroad stipend to learn — and help. “What’s the point of traveling,” Neisig says, “if you can’t serve?” That mentality is no stranger to Anthony Spencer (’03 M.J.), a journalism alum who owns Austin-based Explore Study Abroad. ESA develops faculty-led programs in conjunction with local universities, NGOs and other education institutions throughout Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama and currently works with numerous American universities, including UNT. As an undergraduate and graduate student, Spencer participated in several study abroad trips. They stoked his love of service-based travel and provided him with the knowledge to enter the industry as an entrepreneur.

Allyson Neisig (’19) works with children as part of Open Door, a Romania-based foundation that provides full assistance and emergency shelter to victims of human trafficking.

Neisig creates a shirt during her study abroad trip to Romania in 2017. The trip, she says, was life-changing. “Those experiences are going to stick with me the rest of my career.”

Chris Welhausen (’16), second from right, volunteered at a food bank in Memphis in 2014 as part of UNT’s Alternative Service Breaks program. He also volunteered at an orphanage in Nepal in 2013.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I want to do projects where it’s more about getting a job done, something that will last and help the community for a long time.”

— Chris Welhausen (’16)

“Today’s college students want to help the world more than any group I’ve ever seen, and universities are pushing service-learning projects because they want to reinforce that desire to give back.”

— anthony spencer (’03 M.J.) Students hold up the UNT battle flag as part of a study abroad trip to Nicaragua sponsored by UNT and Explore Study Abroad, an Austinbased business owned by alumnus Anthony Spencer (’03 M.J.).

UNT junior Cierra Cier e ra Black, Black above center, center served as an ASB site leader at Camp Fire in Oklahoma during spring break 2019.

Above, participants ts in the Camp Fire ASB sit in a reflection circle, in which they discussed their experiences each day. At right, Millie’s note to Black telling her how much she will ll miss her.

“Today’s college students want to help the world more than any group I’ve ever seen, and universities are pushing service-learning projects because they want to reinforce that desire to give back,” Spencer says. “But you have to do it very carefully. You have to take the true skills of the students into account, and remind them that it’s not just about working in the community — it’s about working with the community.” In that vein, ESA offers students research opportunities such as living with indigenous cultures in Nicaragua’s Miskito Coast, while simultaneously teaching the importance of gifting time instead of possessions. “One time in Costa Rica we did a Christmas gift activity, and in retrospect, that was a bad moment. It cements this idea that Americans represent material things,” Spencer says. “But if students are working with kids or painting the wall of a school, that’s a different picture. It’s about reaching a better understanding of the global community and how to truly be part of it.” That was certainly the case for Cox, whose ecotourism experiences brought him a deeper, undeniable understanding of the devastating environmental catastrophes international areas were experiencing. “After dinner, the professors would give short lectures to teach us about what they had uncovered in their research projects,” he says. “Being around people who had been studying these topics for a long time made it really clear how true and important these issues are.”

IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD Over spring break, at Camp Fire in Oklahoma, Cierra Black and other UNT students were tasked with helping middle schoolers find their spark. The theme for the week was “Superheroes,” and Black paired off with Millie, a sixth grader who transformed into “Purple Girl” — a math genius whose primary superpower was invisibility. “She told me she wanted to be a doctor,” says Black, a junior public health major. “And I said, ‘Maybe I can be your physician assistant one day.’” The trip to Camp Fire was part of UNT’s biannual Alternative Service Breaks program, in which students

travel to communities throughout the U.S. to learn about social issues and injustices through intensive servicelearning experiences. For Millie, the week further kindled her passion for medicine, while Black and others saw their dedication to service undeniably ignited. “I can’t explain how much it means to me to be able to do this,” says Black, who served as the ASB site leader. “I want to be an advocate. This is what I’m meant to do.” Black also combines international travel and service. She spent last summer in Honduras as part of UNT’s chapter of Global Medical Brigades, and this summer is helping children with developmental disabilities in Australia and New Zealand. But she has realized the importance of urban outreach, too. She previously participated in an ASB to Our House in Little Rock, which assists the homeless, and has worked with her church to help Dallas’ homeless population. “By 2020, almost 60 percent of the world will live in urban areas, which means structural violence, systemic inequality and a lack of resources,” Johnson says. “If Americans want to volunteer, there are plenty of places in our own backyard that are in dire need.” And alums have heeded that call. Upon his return from Nepal, Welhausen continued his work with Alpha Phi Omega and volunteered at a food bank in Memphis as part of an ASB. Tipping joined Credo Choir, a Dallasbased music and community service organization, and she now volunteers with her local Humane Society. Cox, now a principal platform solution engineer at Salesforce, uses his talents to build apps for local nonprofits. And Neisig participated in an ASB to Hope Rising, a Houston-based child placement agency providing services to children rescued from human trafficking. She also helped organize this year’s Big Event, a national day of service sponsored through UNT’s Center for Leadership and Service. “My only hope is that no matter what I’m doing or where I’m doing it, I’m making a difference in direct and indirect ways,” Neisig says. “Whether that means volunteering with CLS or sitting and playing with kids who have been through the unthinkable, every little thing can mean the world to somebody.”

“I can’t explain how much it means to me to be able to do this. I want to be an advocate. This is what I’m meant to do.”

— cierra black, junior

Building Resiliency for Disasters by Heather Noel


As a kid, Luis Tapia (’06, ’08 M.P.A.) loved watching Godzilla movies. It wasn’t the oversized green sea monster that captivated Tapia, but a concern for the cities left behind in its terrorizing wake. “I was always worried about those communities that Godzilla was stepping on and destroying,” Tapia says. “I wondered, how can they be safe?” That question of preparedness is one emergency planners and business continuity managers like Tapia — a resiliency relationship manager for Fannie Mae and adjunct professor in UNT’s emergency management and disaster science program — answer every day. No matter the disaster, whether it be natural or manmade, building a proactive strategy is key. UNT researchers and alumni work in areas such as emergency management and disaster science, computer science and logistics to mitigate human suffering and economic loss, not only following an event as people and businesses rebuild, but before the disaster has even happened. UNT faculty are exploring disasters’ impact on tourism and have used data analytics to develop an evidence-based response planning tool to help emergency planners save time and money. They are researching home buyout programs in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, long-term recovery from Superstorm Sandy and disaster preparedness in Native American communities. And through UNT’s Jim McNatt Institute for Logistics Research, faculty and students across disciplines seek to better understand logistics systems and why some businesses fail to reopen after disasters. “Everyone has a role to play when it comes to disaster planning — from the individual to the organizational level,” Tapia says. Since establishing the nation’s first bachelor’s degree program in emergency management in 1983, UNT has forged education in the field, equipping graduates for jobs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Environmental Protection Agency and American Red Cross. Others have found their calling in the private sector, helping to maintain business operations for global enterprises and ensure supply chains remain intact.

Alleviating tragedy Tapia, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree and later a master’s degree in emergency management and public administration, has already hit what he calls the “trifecta” by working for nonprofit, public and private organizations. During his first event as an emergency planner, he learned a valuable lesson: It takes a village.



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Luis Tapia (’06, ’08 M.P.A.)

Through emergency management and disaster science, computer science and logistics, alumni are ensuring communities Michael Clements

and businesses can rise above catastrophes. Summer 2019




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Paul Luke/FEMA

Charla Marchuk (’08, ’17 M.P.A.)

Kevin Martin (’16)

the UNT community whether he was a student, staff or faculty member. As an adjunct professor, he’s educating the next generation of professionals in the same spirit his professors did. “They challenged us to solve some of the significant problems society faces over and over again,” Tapia says.

In 2008, just a few months into Tapia’s role as emergency management coordinator at UNT, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike barreled ashore in Texas and Louisiana, sending many fleeing from the Gulf Coast. The UNT Coliseum became a temporary home to 278 evacuees, as members of the Mean Green family and Denton community rallied to assemble Hurricane Evacuation Shelters. Eighty studentathletes from Lamar University also were housed at Mean Green Village. “In the middle of the night, there was a call — and an army of students, faculty and staff showed up to help prepare the Coliseum for Gustav evacuees,” Tapia says. “That was one of the fastest turn-arounds for putting a shelter together that I’d seen.” Tapia went on to work in similar roles for businesses, including Plano-based JCPenney and MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas. In his current job at Fannie Mae, he makes plans to ensure the national mortgage company can maintain its critical business processes despite unplanned disruptions, which could include anything from a data center failure or infectious disease outbreak to flooding and tornadoes. “Before the disaster, it’s about exercising plans and nurturing those relationships so that when a disaster does occur, we have built up our disaster muscle memory and are able to work in concert,” he says. For the last 19 years, since he started his first degree, Tapia has remained active in



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Safeguarding procedures Everyone’s heard the expression, “It’s no use crying over spilled milk.” But for Kevin Martin (’16), one of Tapia’s former students, gallons of milk gushing from a tanker truck was a very real disaster. “You wouldn’t think that’s bad, until it gets into the water,” says Martin, who worked as an incident manager coordinating hazmat spill cleanups for CURA Emergency Services. “Milk changes the pH of water, and it can kill fish.” Now a disaster recovery coordinator for Paycom, an Oklahoma City-based payroll and HR software provider serving more than 23,500 clients across the country, Martin is focused on enhancing a business continuity plan. “My goal is to make sure Paycom is prepared to handle any possible event, including natural disasters,” says Martin, who majored in emergency management and public administration and minored in logistics. His coursework at UNT laid a solid foundation for work in the field, he says. As vice president of UNT’s International


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Association of Emergency ManagersStudent Chapter, Martin met and learned from emergency planning professionals before ever graduating. As a business continuity intern his senior year for Southwest Airlines, he worked with supply chain management, helping identify critical suppliers for airplane parts if original suppliers were unavailable. And he’s called upon former professors such as Tapia and Karen McCormick for advice. Disasters can be a devastating blow to small businesses, with FEMA estimating that 40 to 60 percent fail to reopen. “Having people like me in place helps everyone sleep easy at night,” Martin says.

Floodplain management While working as a police communications specialist in Irving, Charla Marchuk (’08, ’17 M.P.A.) started her bachelor’s degree in emergency management at UNT. She knew the field was a good fit, but she wasn’t sure how she wanted to make a difference in it. A floodplain management class brought everything into perspective. “I knew right then what I wanted to do,” Marchuk says. UNT helped her secure an internship at private engineering and consulting firm Michael Baker Jr. Corp., where she learned about floodplain mapping and FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. Marchuk went on to work for the mitigation division of FEMA Region VI


Texas averages at least one major natural or manmade disaster a year, which can bring high costs — in dollars and lives. Read how UNT faculty members are addressing community preparedness and challenges in disaster lifecycles through research in emergency man-

in Denton, first as a consultant and later as a floodplain specialist answering questions and providing guidance for floodplain situations in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. In 2016, as a graduate student in UNT’s public administration program, ranked fifth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, she began teaching the floodplain management course that had inspired her several years earlier. She remained an adjunct instructor until she accepted a promotion last fall to work as the national training coordinator for floodplain management at the FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. “Floodplain management is essential because it helps drive smart development in communities by keeping people and property safe from flooding,” Marchuk says. In the midst of disaster recovery, insight from floodplain management professionals helps local communities make more resilient building decisions. That powerful role became apparent while Marchuk was training employees for the post-Hurricane Harvey period. “What you say can be so impactful,” she says. “It was really important to me that our new hires were comfortable with the information and understood the basics of floodplain management and why we work so hard to support local community floodplain management programs before, during and after the event.” Marchuk says her work is increasingly

Michael Clements

Wendy Nelson (’79)

agement and disaster science, computer science and logistics at

herself switching into roles in IT disaster recovery and business continuity, including her current role as IT risk and business continuity manager for Raytheon. Days in advance of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, Raytheon prepped sites expected to be impacted. Nelson’s business unit — Intelligence, Information and Services — counts the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as one of its customers, meaning many forecasters called upon Raytheon technology for the data needed to make their predictions about the storms. But no matter how much you prepare, unexpected issues always arise, Nelson says. With Harvey, the storm dropped so much water on Houston that many Raytheon employees found themselves on the roofs of their two-story homes to get away from the rising water. The floods also submerged many cell towers, limiting communication. Raytheon sent basic living supplies to the city, and Nelson helped assemble a team to develop a cyber café that gave employees connectivity to the Raytheon systems. The defense contractor opened it up to others in the community, too. “Business continuity is about protecting people, property and process,” Nelson says. “The most important thing to any company is the people.”

driven by technology and data. Currently, she’s working with UNT associate professor Laura Siebeneck on a needs assessment research project analyzing training gaps for local floodplain administrators in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. “By using this data, FEMA can create new training opportunities for local floodplain administrators that are designed for their geographic region and floodplain management needs,” Marchuk says.

Putting people first Wendy Nelson (’79) transferred to North Texas in the fall of 1977 thinking she’d learn how to be a CPA. Her plans changed quickly as she discovered her love for computers. “I took a COBOL (Common BusinessOriented Language) class, and I just loved controlling the computer,” Nelson says. She ended up moving to the university’s budding computer science program, which set the stage for her now decades-long career in the field. Nelson has worked for a host of companies — including Perot Systems Corp., Texas Instruments and the nowdefunct Dresser Industries — primarily programming the IBM Information Management System. The hierarchical system is used by companies around the world to store critical data for operations. With IMS so vital to the companies she worked for, Nelson eventually found

Summer 2019




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Rick Yeatts

Rico Bussey Jr. (No. 8) celebrates with teammates at the UNT vs. Arkansas game, which the Mean Green won 44-17. This season, the Mean Green posted a winning record in every sport, racking up 134 victories — the most in the athletic department’s history.

Mean Green flies high Athletics teams soared this season, with all posting a winning record.

Read more about UNT athletics and purchase tickets at



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Summer 2019

For the first time since 1977-78, the Mean Green have posted a winning record in every sport. Also, the 2018-19 campaign is the first in school history to have a winning record in all eight sports sponsored by UNT that have win-loss records: men’s and women’s basketball, football, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis and volleyball. Mean Green teams posted 134 victories this season, the most in department history, and the teams’ cumulative winning percentage was 61.6. “I am incredibly proud of everyone that helped make 2018-19 the most competitively successful season in over 40 years,” says Wren Baker, vice president and director of athletics. Among this season’s highlights, the football team went to a bowl game for the third year in a row, the soccer team won the Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles, and tennis sent a doubles team to the NCAA Championships.

Softball has historic season The Mean Green softball team ended its historic 2018-19 season 35-19 with a 19-5 mark in C-USA play, both program records, along with its deepest conference tournament run ever. “We’re proud of this team in general, and proud of our seniors,” says first-year head coach Rodney DeLong. “They set a great foundation for our program moving forward. We’ve got great things to build on, and we’re excited about our future and ready to get right back to work.” Along with its victories on the field, the team also saw its coach and many of its players receive honors this season. DeLong was named the C-USA Co-Coach of the Year, junior outfielder Katie Clark and sophomore pitcher Hope Trautwein were named to All-Conference first team, third baseman Harley Perella (’19) picked up All-Conference second team honors, and freshman first baseman Tayla Evans was named to the All-Freshman team. Four All-Conference honorees matches a program record from 2014. Additionally, junior catcher Nicole Ochotnicki earned C-USA All-Academic honors. “It’s nice that our kids get rewarded for a good year,” DeLong says. “They’re all very deserving.”

Seven teams earn perfect APR score

A school-record seven Mean Green teams earned a perfect score for the 201718 academic year, according to the NCAA Academic Progress Rate report. Posting a perfect 1,000 for the 2017-18 season were men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s cross country, women’s basketball, swimming and diving, tennis, and volleyball. For men’s and women’s golf, women’s basketball, and tennis, this was the second year in a row to report a perfect single-year score. Tennis earns All-Conference honors

The tennis team earned four 2019 C-USA All-Conference honors as voted on by the league’s coaches. Maria Kononova (’18) and Tamuna Kutubidze (’19) were each named first team all-conference for singles and were named

Want to support student-athletes’ success? Consider donating to the Mean Green Scholarship Fund. For more information, visit

first team all-conference for doubles. Joining Kononova and Kutubidze were juniors Ivana Babic and Alexandra Heczey, who were named second team all-conference for doubles.

2019 Mean Green football schedule Aug. 31 vs. ACU Sept. 7 at SMU

Track advances to NCAA prelims

Sept. 14 at California

Eight individuals and a relay team represented UNT at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminaries hosted by Sacramento State in May. Darien Porter, 100-meter dash; Joseph Squire, 110-meter hurdles; Brock Hottel, pole vault; Zion Hill, javelin — along with Porter, Davonye Jones, Antonio Delacruz and James Cole (’19) in the 4x100-meter relay — competed for the men, while Aneesa Scott, 200 and 400; Breanna Eckels, long jump; Haley Walker, discus; and Kristyn Archuleta, javelin, competed for the women. Summer 2019

Sept. 21 vs. UTSA Sept. 28 vs. Houston Oct. 12 at Southern Miss Oct. 19 vs. Middle Tennessee Oct. 26 at Charlotte Nov. 2 vs. UTEP, HOMECOMING Nov. 9 at Louisiana Tech Nov. 23 at Rice Nov. 30 vs. UAB




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Even though she entered North Texas as a music major and graduated with a degree in mathematics, Jaqueline Brown (’70) always knew she was on a path to a career in medicine. Brown, who is now a Houston-based obstetrician-gynecologist, has established a scholarship at UNT to honor the teacher who encouraged her to follow her path to science. Before finishing high school, Brown already had researched what it would take to get into medical school. After a counselor told her that well-rounded students often make more interesting candidates than pre-med majors, she decided to pursue a liberal arts undergraduate education. A lifelong love of music inspired her to choose that specific area as her major. “I started playing piano at age 3 but definitely was not a prodigy,” Brown says. “I guess I always had the desire to find out if I could be better.” She earned B’s and C’s during her first year at North Texas, and found it difficult to keep up with her fellow music majors. Brown didn’t excel in the classroom until she enrolled in a class about the physics of music. While most of her peers struggled to pass the math-heavy required course, Brown earned an A. “The class was taught by one of my only female instructors, Virginia Lea Rawlins,” Brown says. “She told me I had a natural aptitude and encouraged my pursuit of a career in science, if not medicine, because we need women in the sciences.”

Jonathan Thomas/

Buoyed by her success in the class and Rawlins’ encouragement, Brown shifted gears and graduated with a degree in mathematics. But, still committed to the liberal arts education that had drawn her to North Texas in the first place, she added minors in music and English to that degree. She credits much of her success as a doctor to that choice. “Medicine is not an exact science — it’s more intuitive, more creative,” she says. “You have to really look at the patients and work to understand them. My experience in the arts has helped me do that.” After completing her undergraduate degree at UNT, Brown graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a master’s in public health and earned a doctorate at UT Southwestern. She went on to complete her residency in obstetrics and gynecology with the University of Pennsylvania Health System before founding Houston’s Total Woman Healthcare clinic in 1990. Brown has found great success and satisfaction as a woman practicing medicine. She has concerns, however, that young women often avoid studying science because they think the field is a


man’s domain or are unaware of the many opportunities available — ones that did not exist when she was a student. Looking for a way to help change that mentality and encourage students from all backgrounds to consider careers in the sciences, she recently established the Dr. Jaqueline Brown Endowed Scholarship in Biological Sciences at UNT. Brown says she has many fond memories of her time at UNT, but the support she received from Rawlins is what inspired her to give back. “I felt gratified that she would take an interest in my desire to become a doctor,” Brown says. “This scholarship is my way of passing it on.” — Amanda Yanowski

Are you interested in helping UNT students who are pursuing careers in science? Visit to make a gift to the College of Science. 44


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Summer 2019



Check out alumni gatherings and events page 47

Kara Dry

A DELICIOUS ENDEAVOR Drawing on his food and beverage background, alum opens artisan cheese shop Ten:One in Denton.

Read the full story of Bonard’s adventures in food entrepreneurship at

NOT TOO FAR FROM THE DENTON SQUARE sits an artisan cheese shop called Ten:One. The shop — named for the ratio of pounds of milk to pounds of cheese yielded — is a uniquely fun addition, opened by someone who has long known the city well, both in terms of what it offers and what it’s missing. “I felt like an artisan cheese shop was something Denton could use,” says Justin Bonard (’16 M.A.), who opened the store last fall to sell cheese from around the world, including Red Dragon, an English cheddar made of brown ale, mustard seed and horseradish, and Chällerhocker, a raw cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland. “Nobody else seemed to have the idea. If you want to see something happen, you have to make it happen.” Summer 2019




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Keep up with the latest developments in the UNT family and tell your peers what you’ve been up to since leaving the nest. Send your news to The North Texan (see contact information on page 4). Members of the UNT Alumni Association are designated with a . Read more, share comments and connect with friends at


practicing law after serving as assistant district attorney for Harris County from 1974 to 1980 and working in private practice until 2016. He is past president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association and past president of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association Gulf Coast.


for Lockheed Martin Corp. and DuPont for three decades and earning a master’s degree from the University of Houston, he served as an art educator at several schools in the Houston area in the 2000s. From 2003 to 2006, he was an adjunct professor at Lone Star College-CyFair. His work has been exhibited across the nation.

1976 Louis G. Pol (’73 M.A.),

Sarah Hamilton (‘11) Photography

Omaha, Neb. :: has stepped away

Brooks Bronaugh (’14), Abilene, a captain in the U.S. Air Force and a weapon systems officer on the B-1B Lancer in southeast Asia, flew a UNT flag over the skies of Afghanistan (he is on the right) last October. At UNT, he was commissioned from ROTC Detachment 835. “I really enjoyed flying like an Eagle repping the green and white!” he says.

1969 Theodore Albrecht (M.M., ’73 M.S., ’75 Ph.D.), Kent, Ohio :: professor of musicology at Kent State University, has published Beethoven’s Conversation Books, a translation of the composer’s notebooks that he used to communicate after he began losing his hearing in 1798. Beethoven’s acquaintances wrote their side of the conversation in the notebook,



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and he would read and reply orally. Albrecht, who was named a UNT College of Music Distinguished Alumnus in 1999, spent 20 summers in Vienna researching the booklets.


Candelario Elizondo, Houston ::

has retired from |

Summer 2019

from the deanship in the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He spent 17 years in that role, and more than 40 years at three universities as an administrator and faculty member. He has enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing and blogs about his travels on

1973 Karen Jaggers (M.L.S.), Vernon, Ariz. :: retired as library

Cindy Asbury Sanchez, Edmond, Okla. ::

received the Rena Ellis Lifetime Achievement Award from CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), whose volunteers advocate for abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. A physical education teacher for 24 years, she works at Messiah Lutheran School in Oklahoma City. Her favorite UNT memory is watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at midnight on Halloween in the Auditorium. “After watching the movie, we had to walk across campus at two in the morning back to our dorm,” she says. “Needless to say, we were scared.”

director from Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Ariz., in 2017. She and her husband, Tom, moved to Vernon, where they raise rabbits and hope to grow gardens. Her favorite campus memory is working with “great library science teachers.”


Vernon King, Baytown :: has

Jon R. Vandagriff (M.A.),

received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis Who’s Who for his achievements in art. After working

Weatherford :: wrote Weatherford

College: The First 150 Years. He is a retired, award-winning editor for the Weatherford Democrat and

Emeritus professor of history from Tarrant County College. His first book was a newspaper history, The Democrat Years: A Growing Process, written for his master’s thesis at North Texas, followed by The Parker County Texas Story, 1852 to 1956 in 2010.

1978 Peter Grant (M.S.), Weatherford, Okla. :: a biology professor

at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Committee of the International Conferences on Ephemeroptera (mayflies) at an international conference in Aracruz, Brazil. He earned a Ph.D. at Florida State, taught at Morris College for three years, and has been at Southwestern since 1988.


Marcus Jeffry Miller, Dallas

:: recently met up with drummer Gregg Bissonette (’82), bringing out the Eagle Claws. Marcus (left) is a producer/ director for VideoWise Group and serves as director of photography on a music documentary about the band King’s X, which is how he met Gregg. While at UNT, Marcus was a member of the Talons.


Upcoming Alumni Gatherings Randy M. Drake, La Crescenta, Calif.


received a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology in June 2018 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In conjunction with his Ph.D., Randy also was awarded a doctoral emphasis in feminist studies, as well as a certificate in college and university teaching. He earned his master’s degree in jazz studies at California State University, Long Beach, in 2011.

1985 Scott Thompson, The Colony

:: has written the book The Functional Fire Company: Positioning Small Groups for Success and Survival (Fire Engineering Books and Videos). Scott is currently fire chief for The Colony. He began serving as a volunteer firefighter in 1981 and started his career in 1986, working in Plano, Arlington, Athens, Lake Cities and Lewisville. While at UNT, he was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He also was one of the first emergency administration and disaster planning students.

1986 Myra A. Kirkwood,

Many exciting events are planned for alumni to reunite and celebrate UNT this summer and fall. UNT Alumni Nights: Join the UNT Alumni Association for a night out at the ballpark in July. The association will host UNT Alumni Night at the Houston Astros game July 6 and the Round Rock Express game July 13. To register, visit Coaches Caravan: Get the inside scoop on Mean Green sports directly from coaches, players and Wren Baker, vice president and director of athletics, at the 2019 Coaches Caravan. Cheer on the teams with Scrappy and the Pep Squad, then enjoy food, drink and a Mean Green meet and greet. The Denton event is scheduled for Aug. 3 at Apogee Stadium, with times to be announced. Tickets are $5 for members of the UNT Alumni Association or Mean Green Scholarship Fund, and $10 for non-members. To register, visit GameDay Grille Open House — UNT vs. ACU: Join the UNT Alumni Association on Aug. 31 for the Alumni GameDay Grille Open House. Enjoy live music, a catered buffet, lawn games and Mean Green spirit. Local craft beer and Texas wine will be available for purchase at the bar. Alumni GameDay Grilles take place two hours before every home football game at the UNT Alumni Pavilion, located at the northeast entrance of Apogee football stadium. All are welcome to attend the Aug. 31 Open House free of charge. On regularly scheduled dates, current members, and one guest per member, receive free admission, and day passes are available on-site for $10 per person. Kids 12 and under are always admitted free. Homecoming Bonfire: Join in the festivities of Homecoming with the UNT Alumni Association beginning at 5 p.m. Nov. 1. Watch the lighting of the bonfire from the best view in the house at the UNT Alumni Pavilion, and keep the tradition alive with other UNT alumni over food and drinks from the cash bar. Complimentary light appetizers, hot chocolate and water will be served. This is a family-friendly event. Fireworks may startle your pets, so please keep them safely at home. Tickets are free for Alumni Association members and $10 for non-members. Wingspan Gala: The Las Vegas-themed “Viva North Texas,” is a black tie formal fundraiser including reception and dinner that will feature the presentation of the Wings of Eagles Presidential Award as well as UNT music and entertainment. The event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, in the University Union. Visit to reserve your table now. Seating is limited. Jumpstart your career: UNT’s Career Center is offering individual career advising appointments to students and alumni throughout the year. The Career Center can help with career exploration, résumé and cover letter writing, interviewing and job search strategies. The center’s online job posting system, Eagle Careers, provides students and alumni with access to part-time and full-time employment opportunities and information on upcoming events. For more information, visit studentaffairs.unt. edu/career-center.

Allen :: was appointed chief U.S. probation officer for the Eastern Summer 2019




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Nest District of Texas, becoming the first woman and African American appointed to the position. She previously served as deputy chief U.S. probation officer. While at UNT, she was a member of Delta Sigma Theta.

Craig Stoddart, Rockwall :: Michael Clements

Making the call A few years ago, on the first day of Jenna Reneau’s (’15) new job, she ran about four miles over the course of two hours while a few hundred people judged her work. Reneau is a referee in the NBA’s G League and for

has joined the Pettit Law Firm in Dallas as senior counsel. He served on the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas from 2014 to 2018. He also was appellate prosecutor for the Rockwall County Criminal District Attorney’s Office for 22 years.


college women’s conferences Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference USA and

Matt Michel

Southland. If she has her way, she’ll be running up and down the WNBA and then NBA hardwood in a few years. Reneau officiated volleyball games in high school and basketball collegiate games while at North Central Texas College, but she never thought of it as a career path. When she transferred to UNT in 2013, she was considering studying sports medicine or marketing. Instead, she majored in communication studies with a minor in alternative dispute resolution — skills that would prove vital to her career. “Communication is imperative in everything we do,” Reneau says. “Nonverbal, verbal, perception — you have to possess confidence, make the call, communicate to everybody in a way that’s clear and concise.” It was when she was attending a high school officiating camp to maintain certification that she was approached by an NBA officiating scout. “He asked if I’d be interested in working in the NBA,” Reneau says. “I was like, ‘You mean the WNBA?’ And he said they needed more women referees for both. That’s when I realized this could be a career for me.” The Krum native officiated her first G League game in 2016 — and it was a barnburner. The Rio Grande Valley Vipers beat the Maine Red Claws, 152-128. “I went to the locker room mentally and physically exhausted,” she says.

(M.B.A.), Shady Shores :: received the Legends in HVACR Award from Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News at the Service World Expo in October. He is a motivational speaker and writer, as well as the founder and CEO of Service Nation Inc., an umbrella group that includes several organizations for service contractors. He was previously inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame.


“But I was like, ‘That was so much fun, I love this!’” Reneau, who typically works four to five games a week traveling around the country, says she’s proud to be part of a league that helps athletes develop into NBA professionals. And she appreciates that the life of a referee is virtually rut-free. “Every week is so different. Every game is unique,” Reneau says. “It’s awesome.”

— Scott Brown

Read a Day in the Life and Q&A with Reneau 48 T h e N o r t h T e x a n | | S u m m e r 2 0 1 9 at

custom itinerary planning and small-group guided tours. His favorite UNT memory is Lab Band Madness and playing at the Rock Bottom Lounge.

Alex E. Hill, Wilmington, N.C. :: composed and orchestrated several parts of the Mass performed by the Cathedral Choir and members of the North Carolina Symphony for the dedication of Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh, N.C. He also composed an original chorale motet for Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Seattle for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. He is director of music and liturgy at St. Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington.

1989 Lynn M. Davis (M.S.), Dallas

:: CEO of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, was awarded the inaugural Most Valuable Director Award from the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas at its fourth annual Directors Summit. Lynn previously received the Nonprofit CEO of the Year in 2013 from the Center for Nonprofit Management, and also led DCAC to receive Dallas Business Journal’s Best Places to Work designation for mediumsize organizations in 2018.

Greg Ball (M.M.), Wooster, Ohio :: retired from Tarleton State University, where he taught woodwinds and jazz for 27 years. He and his wife, Betsy, and daughter, Chelsea, co-founded Euro Travel Coach, which offers

Kris Hassett Hodge, New Fairfield, Conn. :: is production manager of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an organization that provides housing solutions for severely injured

service members, Gold Star families and the families of fallen first responders. The theatre and RTVF major has more than 30 years of experience as a stage/ production manager and lighting designer on live stage, theatre and concert events.

David Rudduck, Grandview :: has worked in the public affairs arena for 15 years and is principal of Mylar Media LLC. He has served as press secretary for the governor of Illinois. He also worked for the American Red Cross, where he was deputy public affairs officer during the World Trade Center disaster response and was regional director of communication and government relations for 184 chapters.

Stacia Haynie (Ph.D.),

1990 Carolyn Courtney (M.S.), Plainview :: was named a Lifetime Achiever by Marquis Who’s Who. She is retired from 33 years in public education as a teacher and librarian at Hale Center and Lockney ISDs. She also is a member of Beta Phi Mu International Honor Society for library and information science. While studying for her M.Ed. at West Texas A&M University, she was awarded the Holden-Lafferty scholarship from Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.

Baton Rouge :: was named executive vice president and provost by Louisiana State University. In her 30 years at LSU, she has served as interim executive vice president and provost, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, associate dean and interim dean of the LSU Graduate School, and professor and department head of political science.

1992 Mitch Ballard, Austin :: has been named senior creative director for the newly created Austin office of BMI, the songwriting performing rights organization. Mitch, a journalism/

broadcast news major, began his career as on-air talent in radio and television and served as a tour manager for major national acts. He also owned DevDigital, a software development company.

Holly M. Hutchins (’94 M.A., ’04 Ph.D.), Sugar Land :: was promoted to chair of the human development and consumer sciences department in the College of Technology at the University of Houston. She first worked as an assistant professor in 2004 and was promoted to professor last year. She and her wife, Brandy Gibson (’93), live with their two daughters.

Hot trends in cool treats Robert (’09, ’11 M.S.) and Lauren Penn (’09) both worked in digital marketing doing inhouse and agency work — focusing on brand messaging and strategic positioning — when they and their children stumbled across the Frios Gourmet Pops concept during a vacation in Alabama. While eating their frozen treats, the Penns’ daughters talked about how the fruit pops had visible pureed strawberries right in the dessert, which made them look and taste fresh. “I hadn’t eaten a popsicle like that since childhood, and I was so intrigued Michael Clements

by adult-style flavors in a kid-like treat,” Lauren says. Lauren started researching the Frios concept. Now, the Penns get the best of both worlds — the flexibility of owning their own business and selling a product they believe in, while still using skills and education gained from their time at UNT. “The advertising department was full of creative students and professors, and it was amazing to be a part of a daily ‘think tank’ in my classes,” says Lauren, who was the first in her family to earn a college degree. “I learned how to come up with concepts, hone my presentation skills and accept feedback.” With Frios locations in Denton and McKinney, Robert and Lauren are putting their marketing backgrounds to use, spreading the word that one way to survive the sweltering Texas summer is to indulge in some tasty frozen treats. Their trendy flavors range from avocado lime and strawberry mojito to strawberry shortcake and cookies and cream. Frios pops are made by hand in Alabama at a facility that sources from area fruit and dairy farms. The Penns say they’re happy to join the booming Denton business scene, especially since they formed a connection to the city as students. And they have advice for others who might want to forge ahead with their own entrepreneurial ideas. “Find a business concept you would enjoy if you were a customer,” Lauren says. “People we interact with can see the enthusiasm on our faces.” Summer 2019





N o r t— h Melisa T e x a Brown n



1993 Emily Hutchison (M.Ed.), Montpelier, Vermont :: is the new director of development for Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. She has more than three decades of nonprofit experience, including her work for a college fundraising program in New York and as a licensed professional counselor and administrator in nonprofit organizations that serve low-income and marginalized populations.

1994 Kimberly Burke, Dallas :: has been promoted to vice president of business development for the construction and development firm Skanska USA. Kimberly will

lead business development activities, and sales and marketing efforts. She joined Skanska USA in 2003 as senior director of business development. She previously served as vice president of business development at HOK, managed production for a comic book company in La Jolla, Calif., and worked for an international advertising company.

engagement for the UNT System. He has more than 20 years of experience in higher education, working at Lone Star CollegeUniversity Park, Dallas County Community College District and Louisiana State University. He has a master’s degree in organizational communication from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and a doctorate in education from the University of Alabama.

Roland ‘Ron’ H. Duncan (M.P.A.), Lewisville :: was pro-

moted to assistant vice president of contract administration at DFW International Airport. He has worked at the airport since 1995 as contract administrator, senior contract administrator and contracts manager. In 2016, Ron was awarded the airport’s Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion award.

R. Mark Miles, Houston :: is the new system director for professional development and employee

1995 Paula Waggoner-Aguilar (M.S.), San Antonio :: CEO and

founder of The Energy CFO, received the National Association of Women Business Owner’s 2019 Woman Business Owner Award. Her advisory and consulting firm established in 2013 is one of the few energy/oil and gas businesses run by a woman. She was cited for her ability to be innovative through the year.

1997 Lisa DeSpain, New York, N.Y.

1998 Katy Abraham, Fort Worth :: is

president of Construction Cost Management Inc., which earned 20th place in Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 fastestgrowing inner city companies. In 2017, she purchased the family business, which won the 2017 Fort Worth Small Business Excellence Award in Cost Estimating and also has been nominated for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Small Business of the Year award. While at UNT, Katy was an active member of Pi Beta Phi and NT40.

Katrina Harris (M.S.), Oklahoma City :: graduated

from Creighton University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Professions with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. She works as a hospital pharmacist at Alliance Health Midwest in Midwest City, Okla.

:: will develop her first opera, The

Sidney D. “Dave” Rogers (’77), of Beaumont, caught up with communications alumni during an Orange County Commissioners Court meeting in March. They are (from left) George Garza (’80) of The Vidor Vidorian; Rogers of the Orange County Record; and Margaret Toal (’74) and Dan Perrine (’78), both of KOGT Radio.



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Summer 2019

Hell-Bound Train, thanks to the 2018 OPERA America Discovery Grant for Female Composers. She is a music professor at LaGuardia Community College - City University of New York and choral arranger for Broadway educational publications. Her favorite UNT memory is “jam sessions in Bruce Hall.”

Bob Horton (M.S.), Fort Worth

:: received lifetime achievement awards from Keep Texas Beautiful and State of Texas Alliance for Recycling. He has been nominated for the Keep America Beautiful Iron Eyes Cody Award. He also wrote the book Lessons from the Streets: 30 Litter-Beating Strategies for Cleaner, Greener Cities.

2001 April L. Moreton (Ph.D.), Siloam Springs, Ark. :: was

appointed vice president of institutional advancement at the University of Northwestern. As a student at UNT, she was a member of the Association of Graduate Students in Higher Education.


Jordan Pinson Nagel (’02 M.B.A.), Houston :: was named

director of communications for BP’s upstream technology and digital organizations. She has been with the company since 2006 and serves on the board of directors for the International Association of Business Communicators. Jordan was a member of NT40 and Zeta Tau Alpha at UNT.

2003 Octavio Javier Esqueda

Mariana Luna Anderson, Schertz :: is a music elementary

school teacher who used her high school yearbook and newspaper experience to help edit her 7-yearold daughter’s book Meet Pumpkin Dog. At UNT, Mariana, was a member of the Residence Hall Association, Talons and the Green Brigade. Her favorite college memory is working on the Homecoming bonfire.

(Ph.D.), La Mirada, Calif.

:: who serves as professor of Christian higher education at Biola University, co-wrote two books for teaching and Christian higher education — The Cruciform Faculty: The Making of a Christian Professor and Anointed Teaching: Partnership with the Holy Spirit. He says he is grateful for his education at UNT and the privilege to influence educators from all over the world.

Sarah Burns, Dallas :: serves as chief marketing officer of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, where she leads and directs marketing efforts and event production to illuminate the truth about child abuse and elevate the center’s role within the community. Sarah was named to the Dallas Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list, and she also volunteers with the Junior League of Dallas.

2005 Rachel Schnitzius Rouse, Farmers Branch :: was promoted

Brian A. Cervantez (’11 Ph.D.),

to principal and director of interiors for the Dallas office of HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.

Fort Worth :: wrote the book

Amon Carter: A Lone Star Life (University of Oklahoma Press) about the businessman who helped build the city of Fort

Living by his own code Hassan Bawab (’04) was 19 when he came to UNT from Lebanon, determined to learn how to create websites. After looking into different universities, he knew UNT was the place for him. “The campus was huge, but I was surprised to find that everyone I met was extremely helpful,” Bawab says. “The International Student Office truly helped me with things like banking, grocery shopping and finding housing.” He says his favorite resources on campus were the computer labs where he spent much of his time completing projects, often staying until 2 a.m. One time, he diligently looked through the lines of code trying to debug an issue for 18 hours. Then he figured it out. “I went through thousands of lines of code just to find out a semicolon was the issue,” he says. “That’s still one of my favorite memories.” After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science with minors in math and technical writing, he took a job as a web developer for Kinko’s, now part of FedEx, to learn more about the corporate environment. Today, he is CEO of Magic Logix, a global digital marketing agency that provides web design, marketing automation and ecommerce for mid-sized to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. He received the Dallas Business Journal’s Minority Leaders Award in 2016 and was named to its Top 40 CEOs Under 40 list in 2011. But coding isn’t the only thing Bawab is passionate about. He and a group of friends created the Arab American Cultural Society, an organization that encourages, strengthens and supports Arab American rights in the U.S. They host festivals and offer services such as legal consulting, medical clinics and Arabic language classes. Bawab loves giving back. In addition to sharing his professional expertise through blogs, articles and speeches, he also mentors students. “Giving them the opportunity to join Magic Logix and learn from my team before they head out into the real world is gratifying,” he says. “We’ve had more than 15 interns, many from UNT, who have gone on to jobs at much bigger companies, and that makes me proud.”

— Eunice Archila




Scott Davidson

A devotion to music — and the Mean Green — is so innate in the Davidson family, it’s almost as if it’s imprinted in their DNA. Take, for instance, their legacy of studying music at UNT: Neil (’52, ’57 M.M.Ed.) and Sandra Davidson (’54, ’57 M.M.Ed.) met in the school of music, where Sandra played piano for Neil’s voice lessons. Their son Blake studied music from 1981 to 1984, and granddaughter Kathryn is a senior double-majoring in flute performance and vocal music education. But even those family members who were not music majors — including their sons Scott (’81) and Bruce (’84), and granddaughter Shannon (’17 M.S.) — made room for the pastime, particularly at Christmas. Beginning in the 1950s, Sandra and Neil gathered at the home of Neil’s parents, where the Davidsons would sing while Sandra played Handel’s Messiah, an incredibly difficult, and undeniably beautiful, composition. “We’re a musical family, and we love this particular piece,” says Sandra, who for many years taught private piano lessons and also was the organist at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving where Neil served as the minister of music. “I love taking part in it — it’s just what we do.” In the 1980s, Neil’s brother Horace began hosting the get-togethers, first at his house in Beaumont, then at his home’s community center in Georgetown. More than 300 people participated in the Davidson family’s enrapturing rendition of the Messiah, in which Neil conducted,

From left, Blake Davidson, Sandra Davidson (’54, ’57 M.M.Ed.), UNT Director of Choral Studies Allen Hightower, UNT senior Marcos Ochoa, Neil Davidson (’52, ’57 M.M.Ed.), UNT senior Kathryn Davidson, Scott Davidson (’81), UNT College of Music Dean John Richmond and Bruce Davidson (’84). Sandra played the piano and their children sang solos. Following Horace’s death, Scott — a Dallas-based dentist — took up the hosting mantle at his home. Though there was no longer room for swelling crowds, there was still plenty of space for the love and care that had long accompanied their Christmas tradition. “It just brings everybody together,” says Scott, who received a bachelor’s degree in biology at UNT, took vocal classes from Professor Emerita Virginia Botkin and was a member of UNT’s Jazz Singers. “That piece of music is just transcendent.” Scott and his brothers Bruce and Blake have released three CDs as The Davidson Brothers. Blake, a chiropractor, has soloed with opera companies and symphonies all over the world and is now a performer and producer of The 3 Redneck Tenors, who were top 10 finalists on America’s Got Talent in 2007. Scott and Bruce, who is a retired lawyer, also have performed solo in venues throughout the Dallas area.

“When you grow up around music, it’s not something you make a decision about — you just perform,” says Scott, who last Christmas welcomed UNT’s Allen Hightower, director of choral studies, and John Richmond, dean of the College of Music, to his family’s gathering. “We just all love to sing so much.” And that love has carried to a new generation, including Scott’s daughter Kathryn, whom Scott describes as the “most talented member of the family.” She knew from the moment she auditioned at UNT that it was the right place for her. “The musical atmosphere was just so amazing and rich,” says Kathryn, who sings the arias at the family’s Messiah performances. “Being from a family of accomplished musicians, it was inevitable this kind of performance tradition would be passed down through the generations. We’ve always placed an emphasis on music and family — performing and singing together is such a special thing.” — Erin Cristales

Read about other UNT legacy families at legacy-families and share the story of your own UNT legacy. 52


No r t h Texa n



Summer 2019

Worth by founding the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Brian is associate professor of history at Tarrant County College’s Northwest Campus.


the healthy benefits of the beverage with a better taste. They accepted Rohan Oza’s investment offer of $400,000 and 25 percent equity.


Jeffrey Sodoma (M.P.A.),

David Lormor, Birmingham,

Virginia Beach, Va. :: founded

Ala. :: is the CTO of an app

Sodoma Law PLLC. The firm assists clients in everything from crafting a will to estate planning. He was named a member of the governing body for the Virginia State Bar Council and is a 2017 graduate of Regent University School of Law. He previously worked in the transportation field.

called Wyndy, which connects parents with college students who work as babysitters. At UNT, he was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and the UNT Concert Choir. He also served in the U.S. Army Reserves for eight years. He then worked in operations management before pursuing a career as an engineer at various startups, leading to his role at Wyndy.

2006 Rodney Bridgers, Lewisville

:: was promoted to vice president of supply chain for TriMark Strategic, a Lewisville-based food service equipment supplier and installation expert for national chain restaurants and local food service operations.

Katrina Eash, Dallas :: was promoted to partner in the Dallas office of the international law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP. Her trial practice is concentrated on complex commercial and intellectual property litigation in state and federal courts, with significant work in high-risk employment litigation. She joined the firm in 2017 from the Dallas office of another international law firm specializing in patent and intellectual property litigation.

Chris Meredith, Lewisville, and Alicia DeSoto (’09), Lantana :: are in their 10th year

working together as band directors at Shadow Ridge Middle School in Flower Mound. The band won the 2017 John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Cup; was recognized as a national winner in the Foundation for Music Education’s National Wind Band Honors Project, 2010-2018; and was a top five finalist in the Texas CC Honor Band Contests in 2014 and 2016. Since 2012, Chris and Alicia also have directed the Honor Winds ensemble, which performed at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago in December. With Asa Burk (’99

2012 Camille Powell, Mesquite :: has joined Kilpatrick Townsend, an international law

firm, and will work with the complex commercial litigation team in its Dallas office. She brings experience in bankruptcy law, mortgage and auto lending, and civil and criminal investigations. Camille earned her law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.

2014 Barbara CastroRojos, Dallas

:: has published Anywhere But Here, a collection of poetry and prose. After working abroad for a few years, she is a community manager for Playful Corp., a video game company in McKinney.

Justin Finn (M.S.), Plano :: was recognized as a 2018 Emerging Leader by the Internal Auditor website. Justin began his postgraduate career in Bank of

M.M.), Kathy Johnson (’81, ’91 M.M.) and Dominic Talanca (’03, ’15 M.M.), they are co-au-

thors of Musical Mastery, a series of beginner band books.

2009 Allison Ellsworth, Dallas :: appeared on Shark Tank to pitch Mother Beverage, an all-natural sparkling apple cider vinegar beverage that she created with her husband. They began mixing ingredients, such as fresh produce, in their kitchen so they could enjoy

Andy McCall (’00), center, performed in the Beaumont Community Players production of Harvey with fellow alumni Bert Smith (’83 Ph.D.), director, left, and Johnathon Hankamer, right. The three also appeared in the theater’s 2015-16 production of The Odd Couple.

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America’s Corporate Audit Analyst Program, where he learned how to automate work related to data analysis and exception testing with Structured Query Language. He now serves as the bank’s assistant vice president and senior auditor, instructor for the corporate audit’s SQL training program and “automation sponsor” for the bank’s Audit Automation Analytics Champion program.

2015 Lewis Giles (M.S.), Dallas :: was appointed to the city of Dallas’ Municipal Library Board. The

board serves as a liaison between the library, the city council and its citizens and advises the director of libraries and the city council in matters relating to library operations and services. He is assistant director of library services at UNT Dallas’ law library.

related activities in the external affairs division. At UNT, she was a member of the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, Tau Sigma National Honor Society, Salute Honor Society and Alpha Sigma Lambda.

2016 LaToya Lynn Rowell, Plano

:: was promoted to the role of communications operations and external affairs officer at Comerica Bank. As a contributions officer, she is responsible for coordinating the bank’s Financial Education Brigade volunteers for the Texas and Michigan markets; contributions operations for the Texas market and annual budget planning; and assisting with diversity-

at Ultimate Ventures since 2017, has won the Texas Star Award from the International Live Events Association for Best Event Designer/Décor. The award recognized her work in organizing an annual dinner, “An Evening Under the Texas Sunset,” put on by one of her clients. Previously, Allie worked at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanic Gardens as a special events facilitator and for a marketing company doing internal events.

Jeremy Rodriguez (M.S.), Lakewood, Calif. :: is a librarian at

the Newport Beach Public Library in Newport Beach, California.

Allie Perkins, Garland :: program manager and event designer

Power to change In the mid-1990s, Damon West’s (’99) football career was on the rise. The North Texas quarterback was part of the 1994 Southland Conference Championship team and witnessed the program’s transformation back into Division I-A. But West suffered a season-ending injury when he separated his shoulder in 1996. The next year, he severerd his Achilles tendon in a home accident, ending his football career. It was then he experienced his own transformation, and it wasn’t for the better. After graduating with a degree in sociology, West traded in sports for D.C. politics and then Wall Street, training as a stockbroker for one of the biggest banks in the world. That’s where he was introduced to methamphetamines and instantly became hooked. After several years of committing property and drug-related crimes with other meth addicts, West was arrested in 2008. On May 18, 2009, he received a life sentence of 65 years. “Serving time in prison with ‘lifers’ was like living in a giant sociological experiment — a dangerous, even deadly, petri dish,” says West, who was paroled in 2015. He knew he wanted to use his story as a warning to others about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and the consequences of bad decisions. So West, who is in long-term recovery, speaks at some of the biggest college athletic departments in the country, as well as corporations, schools, churches and even prisons. His prison journal became the basis for his first book, The Change Agent, published in March, and his second book, The Coffee Bean, co-written with best-selling author Jon Gordon, hits stores this summer. In May, West graduated from Lamar University with a master’s in criminal justice. As the speaker at his graduation, he shared the allegory presented in his book, in which a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean are put into boiling water. The carrot turns soft. The egg turns hard. But the coffee bean changes the water into coffee. In that same way, West says, “we all have the power to change the atmosphere around us for the better.” The day after graduation, on the 10-year anniversary of his sentencing, West was married to Kendell Romero and became a stepfather to her daughter, Clara. “My relationship with Kendell and Clara is, without a doubt, the greatest thing that has ever happened to me since being released from prison,” West says. He still apologizes for foisting UNT into the limelight in a negative way. He spoke to players in the athletics department last fall and personally apologized, which provided a sense of closure. He continues to make amends and share his journey with audiences, including those in maximum-security prisons. “Hope is the thing that is in shortest supply in prison,” he says, “and I have a unique currency to spend with this population.” 54 T h e N o r t h T e x a n | | S u m m e r 2 0 1 9

— Kayla Lindberg

2018 Enna Diaz, Philadelphia :: is working as a corps member at the FEMA Region 3 office during her gap year before she attends medical school. She wanted to learn new things and help those affected by disaster. With five others, she is working on an individual assistance team, which helps people fill out applications for government assistance so they can rebuild their lives.

Kaylen Howard, Arlington :: was part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 team that won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award given for outstanding reporting on issues that reflect human rights and social justice. Kaylen worked on the organization’s program “Hate in America,” in which 38 journalism students from 19

universities traveled around the country to produce stories, a documentary film and a podcast about the life cycle of hate. The project was spearheaded by the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

...... I N T H E //



A rare edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit made its way back to the UNT

Hyejin Lee (D.M.A.), Carrollton :: won second prize at the Golden Classical Music Awards international competition and performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City in November 2018. This year, she won first prize in the American Protege Music Talent International Competition in May in Carnegie Hall and performed at Carnegie Hall in June as an American Protege Summer Gala concert player. She is a violin and viola teacher at Frisco ISD and first violin player in the Sherman Symphony Orchestra.

Libraries in April, 45 years after it went missing. The 1938 American first edition was returned with an apologetic, anonymous letter from a person who had found the book impossible to resist in 1974. The story was shared by NBCDFW, WFAA and The Dallas Morning News. As Tolkien fans may know, the full title of the book, which now has a new home in UNT’s special collections, is The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.


The UNT Quiz Bowl Team competed in the 2019 NAQT Intercollegiate Championship Tournament in Rosemont, Illinois, this spring, the first time UNT has qualified. The competition features teams of four who answer questions on topics such as literature, math, science and current events. UNT’s team — computer science and mathematics double-major Sebastian King, math major Ethan Seal (’19), and materials science and engineering majors Roman Madoerin and Spencer Taylor (’19) — faced off against FOX 4’s Tim Ryan on a Good Day segment before heading for the tournament.

ÈG. Roland Vela,

Professor Emeritus of biology, and his

family were on hand for the ribbon cutting at the G. Roland Vela Athletic Complex at Denton’s North Lakes Park in May, covered by the Denton Record-Chronicle. Vela — who directed 20 Ph.D. students and 40 master’s students while teaching at UNT from 1965 to 2000 — was the first Hispanic member of the Denton City Council and served on numerous other boards and commissions. His daughter Yolanda spoke

The Kappa Alpha Order’s Gamma Lambda chapter from the 1960s gathered at Bridgeport Country Club and the ranch of Eddie McDonald (’65) to play golf and celebrate their brotherhood. The gathering was organized by McDonald and Mike Harvard (’68).

at the ceremony: “So many Dentonites have been encouraged by you because you’ve always been so willing to share your knowledge, give your time and offer sound advice,” she said. “But I know if I asked you, Dad, you would say your greatest accomplishment and your best decision was to raise your family here.”

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W E ’ L L


UNT’s alumni, faculty, staff and students are the university’s greatest legacy. When members of the Eagle family pass, they are remembered and their spirit lives on. Send information about deaths to The North Texan (see contact information on page 4). Read more, write memorials and connect with friends at

Roy Appleton Jr. (’49), Denton :: He was the president

1940s Patricia ‘Pat’ Price Lorance (’46), Stephenville :: She studied mathematics and English at North Texas, then attended the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. She taught math in Lubbock ISD from 1964 to 1991.

University Community Larry Austin (’51, ’52 M.M.), 88, of Lewisville, Professor Emeritus of music who was a world-renowned composer and

and general manager of the Denton Record-Chronicle for 44 years before retiring in 1991. He was a prominent community leader, and the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center in Denton bears his name. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the South Pacific and was part of the

working, restoring old Bibles and

retired in 2011 after a career that


included serving as CEO and pres-

nia, Berkeley, where he also taught.


ident of Southwest Securities and governor of the New York Stock Ex-

California, Davis, and the University

Don Buchholz (’52),

of South Florida before working at

90, a longtime

UNT boards and The Campaign for

North Texas from 1978 to 1996.

UNT supporter

UNT executive and steering commit-

and a member

tees. He and his wife, Ruth, were

He then taught at the University of

change. He was a member of several

Allen Bradley, 66,

of the UNT System Board of Regents

members of UNT’s 1890, McConnell

from 2007 to 2013, died April 30

and Diamond Eagles societies. They

of Gainesville,

in Dallas. After serving in the U.S.

made gifts for research, education

died Dec. 24.

Air Force and graduating from

and scholarship to benefit students,

He worked as

North Texas, he worked in several

including the Bill J. Priest Center for

an information technology manager

accounting firms before co-founding

Community College Education and

for UNT and the UNT System. He

Southwest Securities, now Hilltop

the Southwest Securities Superin-

owned a computer business before

Holdings, an investment banking

tendent Certification Scholarship.

New York Times, an appearance on

No r t h Texa n

He was a classical pianist who won numerous international awards,

the Louisiana State University faculty for more than 35 years. He worked under North Texas teacher Silvio Scionti and wrote the book Silvio Scionti: Remembering a Master Pianist and Teacher and edited Essays on Artistic Piano Playing, both published by UNT Press.

Texas and the University of Califor-

works garnered the praises of The


Ivan Davis (’52), Miami ::

Jack Guerry (’52, ’55 M.M.), Baton Rouge :: He served on

and banking services provider. He

compositions via computer, and his


child prodigy on the piano, she moved from Nacogdoches to Denton at age 12 to work with teachers Silvio and Isabel Scionti. She had a distinguished career as a concert pianist, traveling around the world and winning top prizes at piano competitions in the 1940s and 1950s. She also taught piano at several Texas colleges.

working at UNT. He enjoyed wood-

died Dec. 30. He was known for his

Bernstein, and a performance that

Monte Hill Davis Alexander (’52, ’57 M.M.), Dallas :: A

82. He earned degrees from North

Experimental Music and Intermedia,

harmonic under conductor Leonard


earned raves from The New York Times for his New York debut performance and worked with Vladimir Horowitz after winning the Franz Liszt competition — all in his 20s. He had his own recording contract, performing with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. He taught at the University of Miami from 1966 to 2008.

he conducted at Carnegie Hall at age

served as director of the Center for

television with the New York Phil-

Iwo Jima invasion. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1989, and is a member of the G. Brint Ryan College of Business Hall of Fame.


Summer 2019

Joe Conrad (’53), San Antonio :: At North Texas, he

Sue Spratt Smith (’53), Granbury :: She spent 31 years

played on the golf team that won four consecutive national championships from 1949 to 1952. In the early 1960s, he opened the 19th Hole Golf Center in north San Antonio, retiring in 1988 and continuing to play in senior tournaments. He has been inducted into the UNT Athletics Hall of Fame and the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.

as an educator, teaching English Language Arts in Houston and Fort Worth ISDs and serving as program director for English language arts K-12 in Fort Worth. She received numerous honors, including being named the 1983 Outstanding Teacher of English by the Fort Worth Area Council of Teachers of English. She retired in 1993.

Jatis P. Dees (’53), Santa Ana :: She met her husband, Eddie J. Dees Sr. (’54), to whom she was

Barbara Jean Hall (’54), San Angelo :: She was a reading

years. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines at age 16 and served during the Korean War. While at North Texas, he was a member of the Trojan fraternity.

solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. They also have been displayed in the White House, the National Archives and the Texas State Capitol among many other venues.

Fred L. Harris (’56), Dallas

:: A Korean War veteran, Fred held executive positions with Continental Airlines, Varo and Burgess Industries. He retired as director of human resources and development from South Plains College in Levelland. He was a member of the UNT Alumni Association.

Nancy Lucille Snipes Fergason (’59), Texarkana ::

Gerald Harvey Jones (’56), Fredericksburg :: Known as G.


Harvey, he created Western paintings and sculptures now found in public and private collections around the world. An industrial arts teacher, he began painting after his wife bought him a paint set for his birthday. His impressionistic works gained national attention, including a rare

Dennis Phillips (’62, ’66 M.A.), Sydney, Australia ::

The elementary education major spent 39 years in education in Mesquite schools, winning numerous awards and establishing the gifted program there. Survivors include her son

Morriss W. Fergason (’84).

attended UNT.

specialist for about 30 years at San Angelo ISD and earned a master’s in education from Angelo State. Her husband, Bill Somers Hall (’54), passed away a few months after her death. They met on a blind date while at North Texas and married in 1954. Bill worked in advertising and sales for the San Angelo Standard-Times, sold insurance and then was a Yellow Pages salesman for more than 20

Don received the Outstanding

of the Moorhead City Council. He

Tim King,

Alumni Service Award in 1999, the

earned his bachelor’s degree from

60, of Denton,

Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001

Concordia College in Moorhead


Kelly Davis Kucharski (’04), 40,

and an honorary doctorate in 2015.

and his Ph.D. from the University of

manager of

died Jan. 11 in

Memorials may be made to the Bill J.


married for 65 years, when they both were studying music at UNT. She was an accomplished pianist. She earned her master’s in education from Texas Woman’s University and worked as an educational diagnostician until she retired at 78. All three of her children, Layle, Eddie Jr. and

Lynne (’75, ’80 M.F.A.),

He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco and then worked at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 1972, before teaching history and peace studies at Macquarie

the Murchison

Priest Fund.

Denton. She

Performing Arts Center, died Nov. 28

had worked as an office support

Alan H. Goldfield,

in Valdosta, Ga. He knew he wanted

associate in UNT’s Student Money

to work at UNT after passing through

Management Center since 2016.

75, of Corinth,

the area and seeing the newly

Kelly earned her bachelor’s degree

80, a former

a longtime

constructed Murchison Performing

in sociology and took classes for


supporter of

James L. Danielson,

Arts Center. He detoured from his

a second degree in ecology in

professor of

UNT, died Oct. 14. He was a member

planned path, toured the facility

environmental science. A Maryland

political science, died Sept. 20 in

of the McConnell Society since 2010

and worked at the Murchison from

native who loved Denton, dogs and

Moorhead, Minn. He worked at

and supported Mean Green athletics

1999 until the time of his death. He

bees, she was married to Brian

North Texas from 1967 to 1988 and

in many ways, such as contributing

proposed the idea for the stained

Kucharski (’99), who works in

finished his career at Minnesota

to the campaign for a new football

glass light fixtures adorning the Lyric

University Relations, Communica-

State University. He was a member


Theatre within the Murchison.

tions and Marketing at UNT.

Summer 2019




No r t h Texa n




University in Sydney, Australia, from 1972 to 2000. While at North Texas, he met his wife,

Jebby Prindle Phillips (’66). Marjorie Crenshaw (’63 M.M.), Fort Worth :: She was an avid jazz history advocate in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. She was a charter member and former president of the Fort Worth Jazz Society. A pianist, she also taught jazz and other genres of music to elementary students in Fort Worth ISD for 32 years.

Alvin Eugene ‘Al’ Miller (’64, ’68 M.Ed.), Arlington :: He was a lifelong educator who served as an elementary school principal for 30 years in Arlington ISD. He also was devoted to UNT as a member of the Chilton Society and the UNT Alumni Association and its board. He and his wife, Jo Ann, created two endowed scholarships in the College of Education.

Larry Reynolds (’64), Leonard :: He was a photographer and editor for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He served in the U.S. Army.

Elgie P. Seamster (’63), Grand Island :: He was a member of the championship golf team while at North Texas. After graduating, Elgie served in the Texas National Guard and ran the company Sahara Sportswear with the late Don Van Pelt (’61) until it was sold in 2000. He is survived by his wife, Hollie

Glause (’65).

Edward Mark Anthony (’65), Fort Worth :: He graduated from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1970 and then joined the U.S. Army, where he served as a dentist in Vietnam and at Fort Wolters in Mineral Wells. He ran a dental practice in Van for 28 years. He is survived by his wife, Gail Justiss

(’66), whom he met at North Texas.

Gary D. Schill (’65), Mercer Island, Wash. :: After earning his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Oregon in 1973, he taught at Emporia State College in Kansas and established a construction company in Eugene, Oregon. He met his wife, Dian D. Dassing (’65), at North Texas. He is survived by his brother, Danny Schill (’69).

Jane Dianne Sanders Lanman (’69 M.Ed.), Cleburne :: She worked for 33 years in public education, beginning as a teacher in Birdville and Cleburne ISDs and working in administration at Cleburne. She was Teacher of the Year in 1978.

Cedrick Hardman, San Clemente, Calif. :: He was a North Texas running back and defensive lineman from 1966 to

1969, then spent 10 years with the San Francisco 49ers and played on the Oakland Raiders’ Super Bowl-winning team in 1981. He was inducted into the UNT Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001 and named to the UNT AllCentury football team in 2013. He also appeared in the movies Stir Crazy, The Candidate and House Party.

1970s John O. Norman (’72, ’77 M.S.), Fort Worth :: He was an associate Professor Emeritus of history at Western Michigan University, having taught Russian and Soviet history, as well as cultural history and the arts, from 1989 to 2017. He earned his doctoral degree from Indiana University.

Frances Jean Ramirez (’76, ’81 M.Ed.), Dallas :: She worked as an educator and

Nicholas D. Ricco Sr. (’61), 86,

general partner of Ricco Family

The Riccos also supported military

the UNT Music Library. She was a

Partners Ltd. He returned to UNT in

organizations and were named

member of the President’s Council

1999 to pursue graduate studies in

admirals in the Texas Navy for their

and Diamond Eagles Giving Society.

died May 4,

journalism. He was a recipient of

civic and charitable contributions.

Memorials may be made to the Rob-

and Anna G. Ricco died June 1. Married in

the Green Glory Award in 2003 and

1971, the Carrollton couple were

ert J. Rogers Piano Scholarship.

in 2007. He and Anna served on

Daisy Rogers, 96,

Rod Rust, 90,

longtime supporters of UNT. Nick,

boards for the College of Music,

a longtime

of Ocean City,

a military veteran with 24 years of

the Mayborn School of Journalism

supporter of

N.J., who was

service, became the first non-pilot

and the G. Brint Ryan College of

UNT, died Oct.

head coach

in the Navy and Navy Reserve to

Business. They mentored hundreds

19 in Denton. Daisy was married

be appointed as executive officer

of UNT students through the years,

to the late Robert J. Rogers,

seasons in the 1960s, died Oct. 23

and commanding officer of naval

were members of the McConnell

Professor Emeritus of music, for 68

in Ocean City, N.J. He worked with

flying squadrons, and he built a

Society and created the Ricco Ethics

years and was a homemaker and

“Mean” Joe Greene, Ron Shanklin

career in the insurance, real estate

Scholarship competition. The Cmdr.

active community member, baking

and Chuck Beatty at North Texas

and finance businesses. He was

Nicholas and Anna Ricco Music

thousands of cookies for numerous

and went on to coach professionally

president of Ricco Properties and

Dean’s Suite was dedicated in 2018.

organizations and volunteering at

in the U.S. and Canada from 1987



No r t h Texa n


the Distinguished Alumni Award


Summer 2019

at UNT for six

administrator for SpringlakeEarth, Dallas, Cedar Hill and Cleburne ISDs. She sang in a choir, played the piano and organ, and volunteered with her church’s youth departments.

James Thomas ‘J.T.’ Hollins Jr., McKinney :: He was a wide receiver for the Mean Green in the 1970s and was on the track and field team. He worked for Honeywell, Accurate Die Cutting and Beacons before retiring from Sunbelt Plastics after 20 years. He attended North Texas from 1974 to 1977.

William Cupit (’79 M.S.), Van Alystyne :: He was born with cerebral palsy and refused to let that stand in his way. He worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and program specialist for the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with the Texas Rehabilitation Commission for 21 years. He also received the Alumnus of the Year award from UNT’s Department of Addiction, Rehabilitation and Social Work in 1999.

co-writing. She went on to earn her master’s in accounting and ran her own tax accounting firm until 2007. She was a lifetime member of the UNT Alumni Association. Memorials may be made to the UNT Foundation for the Klammer Family Endowed Scholarship, which benefits student-athletes majoring in accounting or business. Survivors also include children David (’94, ’94 M.S.) and Rachelle.


Joshua Akers, Plano :: He was working toward his petroleum engineering degree. He served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps for five years. Kelechi Gabriel, Arlington :: He was a sophomore studying history in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Joshua Gulley, Denton :: He


Jonathan David Bostick (’06), Houston :: Originally an

Charles Reed Ellis (’78), Jacksonville :: He was a

Patricia ‘Pat’ Marie Foley Klammer (’85 M.S.), Denton

geophysicist and chairman of the physics department at North Dallas High School. He was working on a Master of Fine Arts degree with a major in studio art and a concentration in drawing and painting, in the College of Visual Arts and Design.

:: A former teacher, she originally

English major, he took a dance class at UNT and decided to pursue dance professionally. He danced with companies in Utah, Arkansas and Texas, on cruise ships and in a TV commercial.

began taking accounting classes to help her transcribe an accounting book her husband, Thomas Klammer, now a Professor Emeritus of accounting, was


was in the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences program from 2017 to 2018. His mother, Donna Jackson, works for the UNT System’s IT Shared Services.

Joseph Harry McCain, Celina

:: He was an electrical engineer in the aviation industry and a senior in the New College’s applied technology and performance improvement program.

to 2005. He worked as linebackers

at UNT since 1974. Known for his

coach for the Philadelphia Eagles

expertise in molecular dynamics

in 1976 and head coach of the New

and thermochemical properties of

Walter Scott ‘Mickey’ Sandefur III,

England Patriots in 1990. He was a

molecules, he published more than

of Denton, a pro-

Send memorials to honor UNT

member of the Patriots team when

125 refereed scientific papers. He

fessor of teacher

alumni and friends, made payable

they made it to their first Super Bowl

previously taught at the Univer-

education and administration for

to the UNT Foundation, to Uni-

in 1985. He earned bachelor’s and

sity of Utah and the University of

43 years, died Nov. 30 in Denton.

versity of North Texas, Division of

master’s degrees from Iowa State

Wisconsin. He earned a bachelor’s

He specialized in curriculum and

Advancement, 1155 Union Circle

University. He was a member of the

degree from Case-Western Reserve

instruction, and also served as

#311250, Denton, Texas 76203-

U.S. Army during the Korean War.

University, a Ph.D. from the Univer-

interim associate dean of Academic

5017. Indicate on your check the

sity of Wisconsin and a postdoc-

Affairs. He served in the U.S. Army

fund or area you wish to support.

Martin Schwartz,

toral fellowship at the University of

from 1951 to 1953 during the Korean

Or make secure gifts online at

Utah. Memorial gifts can be made

War. He received his bachelor’s and For more

72, Regents

to the Martin Schwartz Chemistry

master’s degrees from Northwest

information, email giving@

Professor of

Scholarship fund in the UNT College

State University of Louisiana and or call 940-565-2900.

chemistry, died

of Science.

a doctorate from the University of

Dec. 26 in Lewisville. He had taught



Summer 2019




No r t h Texa n




REFUSING TO QUIT By Joseph Budzar (’69)



No r t h Texa n


Gary Payne

Your dreams only come true if you dare to back them up with hard work. I learned that the hard way because I quit UNT several times before I finally dared big enough and finished my degree. I first headed for North Texas State University in August 1963 on a Greyhound bus, having decided to move far from my home in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon arrival, I immediately fell in love with Denton and was captivated by the small-town atmosphere. The professors were caring and supportive and the student body exceptional. I was taken by the strong loyalty to family, town and country. It was a pleasure to hear your fair share of “sirs” and “ma’ams.” When I arrived in Denton, I had no idea of the sacrifices before me. Luckily, these challenges would not be faced alone. There are people you meet in life who have the ability to improve the original version of you. Their strength and quiet intelligence exceed your own, and for that you are grateful. This is what I found in my wife of 55 years, Ruth Carr. We had been together since high school and married in June 1964. I know that nothing in my life would have been possible without Ruth by my side. My studies at North Texas were interrupted as we went back north. Money was a huge issue for us and steel mill wages in Ohio were five times greater than any student employment I could obtain in Texas. In the fall of 1965, we went back to Ohio to await the arrival of our first child but continued to divide time between north and south. A second child was born in February 1967 and then, while working in the steel mills, we learned a third child was due in June 1968. This was a crossroad. I realized I could

Joseph Budzar (’69) shakes hands with College of Engineering Dean Hanchen Huang at May’s commencement. actually graduate and improve our standard of living if I could go back to Texas alone and gut it out one more year, taking a full load of classes straight through and working full time. “Do it,” Ruth said. “If you don’t, our family may not have a future.” And so I did it. It wasn’t easy — most important decisions are not — but one year later, I had finished my degree and was reunited with my family, seeing our third child for the first time and taking on my first engineering position. Just eight years later my career path led me to become the founder of Budzar Industries. I chose the field of fluid temperature control because it serves the industrial processing industries: rubber, paper, chemicals, textiles, plastics, power, steel, food, petroleum and pharmaceuticals. With Ruth’s support I dared big to put up our home as collateral for a bank loan, but I felt my investment was recessionproof since all these industries would have to fail before I could go out of business. Although I later sold the company to spend more time with my family, Budzar Industries is still in business and a world leader in |

Summer 2019

fluid temperature control technologies. After selling the business I established Joseph M. Budzar Ministries Inc., striving to better the world around me. I served as a substitute teacher, speaker and counselor in activities that reached students, businesses, elderly groups, addicts, the homeless and gang members. I conducted nondenominational retreats for high school students, coached high school football and basketball, and gave inspirational talks at schools, churches and correctional institutions. Today, Ruth and I cherish our time with each other, our 13 children and 34 grandchildren. We learned it takes courage to pursue your goals, but you will find your path when you strive to be the very best and refuse to quit under pressure. We’ve come a long way since those days at North Texas and will always be thankful for them. Budzar, who earned a degree in industrial arts, was unable to attend his North Texas graduation ceremony 50 years ago. He returned to UNT this spring to walk across the stage and to share his story with other graduates as a commencement speaker.


Former MEAN GREEN and NFL running back Patrick Cobbs is once again helping lead the Mean Green to victory, this time as the new running backs coach. Don’t miss the action. Get your tickets today!


Summer 2019




No r t h Texa n


The North Texan

Michael Clements

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing 1155 Union Circle #311070 Denton, Texas 76203-5017

PA RT I N G S H O T It was a celebration heard ’round the world as University Day kicked off April 12 with the flag parade, made up of international students — along with those who have international heritage or have studied abroad. The annual University Day celebration, first held May 10, 1961, marks the day North Texas State College became North Texas State University, and features free food, activities and music.