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Javelina Alumni Association announces Distinguished Alumni, Rising Star award recipients

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Javelina Alumni Association

Javelina Alumni Association

KINGSVILLE (July 3, 2020) — The Javelina Alumni Association at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has announced the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, as well as the recipient of the Rising Star Award.

As the association’s most prestigious honor, Distinguished Alumni is awarded only to alumni of the university who have had abundant success professionally and personally, through which they have positively represented and brought honor to Texas A&M-Kingsville.

The Rising Star Award was established in 2004 and recognizes alumni within 15 years of their graduation from Texas A&M-Kingsville who have achieved professional success and brought special honor to the university.

Each will be honored at a ceremony currently scheduled to take place during Homecoming Week on October 23, 2020.

“These men and women embody many of the foundational values of our university, including integrity, selfless service and excellence. They represent the significant impact our alumni have on their communities, state and nation. Among this year’s honorees are pioneers, leaders and dedicated champions of our university. We are honored to recognize these outstanding individuals for all they have accomplished and for continuing the legacy of our outstanding Javelina Alumni,” stated Dr. Mark A. Hussey, President of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.


New Distinguished Alumni are


The Rising Star is: Robert Ray Molina Jr., Class of 2017

About the Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Carmen Lomas Garza

Carmen Lomas Garza is a famed Mexican-American artist and illustrator who is well known for her paintings, ofrendas, papel picado and children’s books. Lomas Garza’s works are part of permanent collections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and many others.

Lomas Garza earned her bachelor’s degree in arts education from Texas A&I University and later went on to earn a master’s in education at Juarez-Lincoln/Antioch Graduate School and a master’s in art from San Francisco State University. Originally from Kingsville, her Mexican-American heritage and family influences led to per pursuit of art while attending Texas A&I University where her interest in art education also flourished.

It was during this time and through her own teaching experiences that led her desire to create works of art that would be understood by all ages. Lomas Garza solidified her purpose in using art to celebrate the culture, music, dress, language – everything – that focused on the Mexican American culture. Much of her work comes from the unearthing of shared memories and traditions of her culture. The impact of her children’s bilingual books became so substantial that a school in East Los Angeles named their school the Carmen Lomas Garza Primary Center in her honor.

David Allex

David Allex is being inducted posthumously as a distinguished alumnus, due to his recent passing in 2019. During his lifetime Allex was known as “Mr. Harlingen”, where he served as President and CEO of the Harlingen Chamber of Commerce for 34 years. During his time with the chamber, he was responsible for the work done through the Harlingen Industrial Foundation and the Development Corporation of Harlingen. He also earned the prestigious Certified Chamber of Commerce Executive designation.

In 1958, Allex earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas College of Arts & Industries before serving in the U.S. Army and later returning to the Rio Grande Valley he called home. After the closing of the Harlingen Air Force Base, Allex was instrumental in helping to fill the void by bringing the then upstart carrier, Southwest Airlines, to Harlingen.

Throughout his career, Allex was appointed by several Governors to serve on various task forces and advisory committees that ranged from regional to state-wide impact - including travel, commercial development, workforce quality and international trade. Allex was the recipient of the Marvin Hurley Award, Road Handler Award, Outstanding Young Man Award and Distinguished Service Award from Harlingen Jaycees, to name a few.

He was co-founder of Texas State Technical College in Harlingen and St. Anthony’s Catholic School in Harlingen. At the heart of everything he did, was a sense of vision and passion were all citizens would be gainfully employed.

Donna Shaver

Donna Shaver is known for her significant impact in the recovery and conservation of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, bringing the species back from the brink of extinction. She currently leads the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery for the National Park Services at Padre Island National Seashore. Shaver earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in wildlife biology before attending Texas A&I University where she earned a master’s in biology and then went on to earn her Ph.D. in zoology from Texas A&M University in College Station.

Shaver’s work as a biologist and wildlife conservationist has been recognized by the New York Times, Washington Post, Texas Reporter, Texas Monthly and many more media outlets. She has received a number of awards including the International Sea Turtle Society Lifetime Achievement Award, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award and the National Park Service Director’s Award for Natural Resources Research - and countless others - for her work and prolific research in the conservation of sea turtles.

Even after 30 years of research and achievement, Shaver’s lifelong mission continues to be the preservation of sea turtles.

Jose Luis Cortez

Jose Luis Cortez spent his career – and still to this day – dedicated to physics. Most notably, he worked as a theoretical physicist at Los Alamos where they conducted nuclear underground testing. Cortez spent 18 years working for the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission where he served as a technical advisor focused on alternative technologies including solar cell development.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Texas College of Arts & Industries, he went on to obtain a master’s in physics and a doctoral degree in theoretical physics from University of Michigan. After his service to the government, Cortez worked for the New Mexico Technology Institute as Director of Energetic Materials and Technology Center.

Shortly thereafter, he returned to his home in the Rio Grande Valley, where he taught physics and became head of the department of physics and geology at Pan American University.

Today, even into his 80’s, Cortez can be found teaching physics to the next generation at South Texas College. There his courses on astronomy and physics are often booked solid.

Angelica “Angie” Barrera

Angelica “Angie” Barrera currently serves as the Associate Vice Provost of Student Success at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she has spent 14 years serving students while focused on innovation and collaboration in higher education academic advising.

Most notably, Barrera was a 2019 recipient of the Region 7 Administrator of the Year for NACADA, 2018 UTSA Leadership Awardee and the Latino Star Award by the Hispanic Policy Network in 2016.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s in kinesiology from Texas A&M University-Kingsville where she also earned the Women’s Leadership “Be All You Can Be” Award.

Beyond being a leader in her field, Barrera is also known for her service and dedication to organizations such as the Las Comadres de las Americas on Texas Public Policy and Civil Engagement, Texas Academic Advising Network, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and Phi Epsilon Kappa National Honor Fraternity.

In addition to her full-time role and volunteer service, Barrera also spends time as a conference speaker, as well as part-time instructor at Texas State University for University College courses focused on orientation and the success of first-year students.

Roberto Montoya

Roberto Montoya is an entrepreneur and defense technology leader. He is currently President of Defense Support Solutions, Owner/Manager of Interoperable Communications and CEO of VRC Corporation. His business ventures often focus on serving military/government systems as it pertains to testing prior to field deployment and/or technology security.

This all came after Montoya served 22 years in the U.S. Army where he grew his skills in international relations, security and data. Prior to his service, Montoya earned a bachelor’s in business administration from Texas A&I University as well as a master’s from Army Command and General Staff College, a master’s in political science-international relations from University of Kansas and a master’s degree in information systems from University of Southern California.

Montoya’s roots began in Corpus Christi and now range across the globe through his travels and work in locations like Germany, Latin America and Spain. His significant work in defense is highlighted by negotiations and management of international contracts with government leaders that are U.S. allies, while also supporting the U.S. Department of Defense through his work with VRC.

Beyond his service to country and our world, Montoya serves a number of organizations including the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Foundation and the College of Business Administration Advisory Board at Texas A&M-Kingsville. He is also founding member of Military Ministry at his church in Selma while also maintaining a long list of professional affiliations from the U.S. Army Armor Association to the International Test and Evaluation Association.


About the Rising Star recipient Robert Ray Molina Jr.

Robert Ray Molina Jr. is more popularly known as “Robert Ray.” Molina has recently risen to stardom on the Texas Country music charts with three #1 singles. The Alice native continued his music aspirations while also earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial management & technology with a minor in business administration in 2017.

He is CEO of Big R.I.G. Country where he serves as Singer and Songwriter. He has been nominated for Music Video of the Year as well as Male Vocalist of the Year in the Texas Country Music scene. Molina has joined the Nashville Songwriters Association International, Texas Country Music Association and is part of the Harry Fox Agency.

Beyond his professional career, Molina is also involved with Toys for Tots, the Tejano Roots Hall of Fame, Hospice Awareness and many other organizations and festivals where he has used music as a way to promote important causes.


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