Click here to download a 2017 UTEP Gold Nugget Alumni Award Nomination Form.

2016 Gold Nugget Award Recipients

Armando Aguirre, Ed.D.

Executive Director, Education Service Center, Region 19

Notables: Since 2014, Armando Aguirre, Ed.D., has been executive director of Education Service Center, Region 19, an organization that assists area teachers and administrators to better serve students. Aguirre has had a 30-plus year career in education. He has taught or administered at every level from elementary school to higher education. Aguirre’s goal is to make a positive difference in the lives of students and to involve families in academic decisions.

“I see myself in the kids of this community and my parents in their parents.”

Mary E. Bell

Regional President and CEO for Indiana and Ohio, Wells Fargo Bank

Notables: Shortly after graduating from UTEP with her bachelor’s degree in finance, Mary E. Bell received her first job as a management trainee for the State National Bank of El Paso. Today, she is Regional President and CEO for Indiana and Ohio at Wells Fargo Bank. Bell has a strong commitment to service and leads several community outreach programs. She also serves as an active volunteer in her community of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

“Understanding the value of diversity at UTEP has helped me leverage diversity as a business imperative.”

Brian Cloteaux, Ph.D.

Researcher, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Notables: Brian Cloteaux, Ph.D., is a native El Pasoan who is a researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he investigates characteristics of realworld networks such as the Internet and social media to help predict what will happen with them in the future. In addition to his research, he also mentors students in the NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which aims to inspire them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The professors in (UTEP’s) computer science department...really changed my outlook on what it meant to be a computer scientist.”

Barbara Divis

Opera Singer (Retired)

Notables: UTEP provided the foundation for a singing career that took Barbara Divis across the U.S. to perform lead roles in well-known operas such as Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” where she performed as the title character CioCio-San in seven productions. She performed professionally in 35 productions, most of them lead roles, around the United States between 1984 and her retirement in 2011. Music from Divis’ CDs are featured in the book, “Operaville,” by Michael J. Vaughan.

“UTEP awarded me a music scholarship and academic scholarship. If it were not for UTEP, I am not certain I would have even achieved my bachelor’s degree at all.”

Karen Lyon, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Louisiana State Board of Nursing

Notables: Karen Lyon, Ph.D., was one of El Paso’s first nurses to graduate from The University of Texas System School of Nursing in 1974 and one of the first students in the new Master of Science in Nursing program at the UTEP College of Nursing. She joined UTEP as a faculty member in 1979. In 2004, she was named assistant dean of graduate nursing. During her tenure with the University, Lyon developed the graduate degree in nursing systems management and UTEP’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Fast Track Program. She currently serves as executive director of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.

“I’ve seen how much UTEP has changed. Just to feel that, in some small way, I contributed to that change through my roles at UTEP is incredible.”

Freda Mowad

President, Senior Rehab Solutions (SRS)

Notables: Freda Mowad is president of Senior Rehab Solutions (SRS), a rehabilitation management company with facilities in Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, California and New York, where she is in charge of more than 2,000 therapy professionals. In 2013, she led efforts to open the first SRS facility in El Paso, where UTEP students in the speech-language pathology, physical therapy and occupational therapy programs receive clinical training. As an avid UTEP supporter, Mowad also helped establish the Senior Rehab Solutions Excellence Endowment in the College of Health Sciences.

“The spirit of UTEP was not about competition or outdoing your classmates. It was about helping each other get to where you were going together.”

Evelyn Tiffany-Castigliono

Professor and Department Head of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A&M University

Notables: Evelyn Tiffany-Castiglioni, Ph.D., is a second-generation UTEP graduate who credits outstanding UTEP educators in biology, genetics and cytology for getting her where she is today: professor and head of Texas A&M University’s Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences. Her undergraduate lab work at UTEP on lead contributed to what is now her main research focus: the neurotoxicity of lead. Tiffany-Castiglioni’s work in veterinary medicine contributes to greater advancements in environmental, animal and human health.

“The most outstanding science teacher I’ve ever had was [former UTEP Professor of Biological Sciences] Peter Chrapliwy.”

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