At Homecoming & Family Weekend 2019, we celebrated many student and alumni achievements! Check out our Homecoming Court & Royals, Topper Cup winners, and our Alumni Honorees and stay tuned for the announcement of 2020's Alumni Award Winners and Hall of Fame Inductees.
2019 Alumni Award Winners and Hall of Fame Inductees
Kyle Ballarta, MBA ’11 – Alumni Achievement Award
Nominated by faculty within The Bill Munday School of Business
Kyle Ballarta MBA ’11 turned a life-changing injury into an opportunity to explore new paths toward his greatest purpose. While studying music at Walt Disney’s California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Kyle was hospitalized for two months after suffering an injury to his lungs.
“I was slowly witnessing my life’s passion of playing music slip through my fingers. This challenge made me do some soul searching: Why did I have this passion to play music? What was the deeper calling that I was drawn to?”
Kyle’s contemplations led him to a new calling: entrepreneurship. He completed his music studies and came to St. Edward’s for a graduate education in business.
“St. Edward’s equipped me with knowledge and vocabulary in Business that empowered me to reconcile my passions, creative curiosities, and my penchant to create. The University met me where I was on my journey (a musician with no business experience), allowed me to listen to my heart, and gave me intellectual nurturing that would prepare me for a world of infinite possibilities.”
Kyle has since explored those possibilities – both professional and personal – and turned them into realities through his deep commitment to humankind.
He says, “I have been fascinated with this meditation: ‘[A] cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real community from taking shape. Cure without care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient and unwilling to share each other’s burden.’”
Kyle says, “My professional accomplishments are by-products of this constant pursuit to love with my heart’s fullness, to use my talents and gifts as stewardship, and to create a cure with care. It is my constant pursuit to be guided by this compass.”
Following this compass, Kyle has participated in the creation and innovation of products and systems that help improve the world. He was part of the founding team of LifeProof, the consumer electronics company that grew from three to three hundred employees in just three years. Kyle also founded Falkon Ventures, for which he is the CEO. In this role, Kyle supports tech innovations that help solve global challenges.
He co-founded a drone management system called Citadel, which works with NASA, the Department of Defense, and other groups; and as co-designer of a cooperative currency RMT, Kyle envisioned a globally scalable renewable energy market which is sponsored by the Nobel Sustainability Trust.
Kyle describes all of these accomplishments with remarkable humility, saying, “The Holy Cross mission reminds me every day that our work and the things we create can be our stewardship to the world. It can be a powerful tool to contribute to our neighbors and our world. It’s a way to share love, kindness, and light where it is most needed.”
Kyle’s contributions to the world also include volunteer and service positions. He participates in the Founding Patron Council for Humanity 2.0 in collaboration with the Vatican and works weekly in the food pantry at St. Vincent De Paul. He also recognizes a special calling to come back to St. Edward’s.
“The university created an experience and environment that contributed to my life. It is my hope that all the things I learn and discover throughout my lifetime will be shared with others. I hope that those discoveries may be built upon, re-molded, and evolved by others, so that my contributions may play a small but significant role in a cascade of exploration and discovery that will live beyond my short time on this earth - St. Edward’s and its students is a good place to start.”
Kyle is investing his own knowledge and experience in the minds and hearts of today’s Hilltoppers. He serves on the Advisory Board for The Bill Munday School of Business and has worked as Adjunct Faculty in Innovation and Disruption Management for the School’s MBA program.
Along with the discoveries that Kyle has made in his educational, professional, and volunteer pursuits, he says family and friends have sparked immense personal growth and enlightenment. “Marrying my wife, Veronica, and expecting our baby boy, Sebastian, has been such a wonderful learning experience,” says Kyle. “It’s taught me the love that I’m capable of. Marrying my soulmate and having a baby together teaches you to love in ways you never knew existed before.”
Looking to the future, Kyle embraces the infinite possibilities that come with uncertainty. “My life has been faced with uncertainty a number of times. From the time I was in the hospital not knowing if I would be able to breathe again, to the time when I thought my life as a musician had ended, to the uncertainties of building a venture. What I have learned is that it is in the uncertainties that new beginnings and real discovery can occur. It is in challenges that we are forced to look at the world differently, to search our souls to new depths.”
Kyle’s commitment to the Holy Cross mission and his tremendous accomplishments make him the ideal Alumni Achievement Award recipient.
Alicia Barron ’03 – Alumni Service Award
Nominated by Susan Loughran, Professor Emerita, School of Arts and Humanities
Alicia Barron ’03 says that her biggest strength as a leader and mentor is her readiness to change. “If we only do what makes us comfortable, we miss opportunities to thrive,” she continues. “Change is inevitable. I adapt to whatever circumstances I am faced with and always remember to enjoy life.”
She also urges others to embrace themselves for who they are, particularly those who feel that they may not fit in. “My best advice is to be yourself. I used to feel that I needed to hide my outgoing, bubbly, theatrical personality, but I learned early on that those qualities make me who I am! I am unique, accepted and loved.” Alicia credits her time at St. Edward’s for instilling in her a commitment to building a community of mutual respect, a concept that to her means “helping others see that they matter.”
Alicia graduated in 2003 with a degree in Theatre Arts. When recalling her most formative experiences on the hilltop, Alicia is quick to talk about the terrorist attacks on September 11th. “I immediately drove to campus. Classes were cancelled, but none of us cared. We all wanted to be together, and all of our professors wanted to stay with us as well. At the time, I was in rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet, which we all showed up to even though those were canceled as well. We watched news coverage together, prayed and gave each other hope for the future. To me, this shows how inclusive St. Edward’s is — our education produces students who understand problems and collaborate on solutions.”
Alicia’s dedication to fostering a vibrant, inclusive community is clear through her service to St. Edward’s. Since her first time volunteering in 2008, she has played an active role in increasing alumni engagement and giving. “When I first started, it was very difficult to get alumni to attend events regularly. Despite getting help from Alumni and Parent Programs staff, I really had to be creative given my limited resources and living so far away from the Hilltop in New York City.” But Alicia still managed to help the NYC chapter thrive, and continued to serve as a chapter volunteer when she moved back to Austin. “We now have the largest number of alumni donors in years,” she says. “I’m so proud to see Hilltoppers making a difference in the community and in the world. It brings me tears of joy.”
In addition to her involvement with Chapters and serving as the Alumni Association Board President, Alicia has also volunteered as an Admission volunteer, Online Ambassador, and Career Network Adviser — often referring employers to the Career and Professional Development Department to hire students and alumni. She has attended countless alumni events all over the country, and shows support for her fellow Hilltoppers by participating in as many of their creative and entrepreneurial endeavors as she can. “My work in the alumni community helps me make lifelong friendships, and that’s what inspires me to give St. Edward's my time, talent and treasure.”
Susan Loughran, Professor Emerita, School of Arts and Humanities, says that she nominated Alicia for the 2019 Alumni Service Award because of her significant and far-reaching contributions to the community. “One morning I walked over to Ragsdale and found Alicia giving out donuts and coffee to students, exuberantly wishing them a great day, and putting in a little plug for the Alumni Association,” remembers Professor Loughran. “Another time, I volunteered to represent the Alumni Association at a graduation event. When I got there, there was Alicia — smiling, congratulating students on their graduation, and encouraging them to remain engaged as alumni.”
In her professional life, Alicia is a Project Manager for High Performance Teams (HPT) Development, an Austin-based, incubator-like company that provides business consulting and angel investment to startup companies in the Talent Management, Training & Development and Performances Optimizations space. There, in addition to her other responsibilities, she also publishes resources for The HumanCurrent podcast and manages their Pinterest account. In her spare time, Alicia volunteers as a freelance choreographer, and is currently working with St. Stephen’s High School and The Christian YouthTheatre to design their production dance routines.
Kelly Boyd '11 – Athletics Hall of Fame
Kelly Boyd certainly deserves celebration for her accomplishments as a Hilltopper Women’s Soccer player – her educational and professional achievements also help to secure her a position in the Athletics Hall of Fame.
Boyd graduated in 2011 with a degree in Forensic Science. During her time on the Hilltop, she was an NSCAA Third Team All-America selection and First Team All-Region pick in 2010 – all while leading the Hilltoppers to a Heartland Conference Championship and NCAA Elite Eight appearance. Boyd was named the Heartland Conference Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year that same season.
During her Soccer career, Boyd earned Heartland Conference first team honors twice (in 2009 and 2010) and second team honors twice (in 2007 and 2008) as the Hilltoppers won two conference titles and made three NCAA Tournament appearances.
A standout in the classroom as well, Boyd earned NSCAA Academic All-America Third Team, Academic All-Region First Team and Academic All-District Second Team honors. She was active among her peers, also, participating in the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Sigma Alpha Pi (a national leadership society), and the Senior Gift Committee (helping to raise funds for her classmates’ greatest needs).
Following her graduation in 2011, Boyd earned a Master’s in Forensic Science from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. In 2013, she also conducted research in the Scottish Police Services Authority’s Mark Enhancement Laboratory.
Now back in Texas, Boyd serves her community as a Crime Scene Investigator for the City of Arlington. She is an exemplary member of the St. Edward’s University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Fabio Eidelwein ’01 – Athletics Hall of Fame
Above all, Fabio Edelwein ’01 says that his St. Edward’s education taught him integrity, dedication and open-mindedness.
Fabio certainly showed dedication in his Athletics career. He played for the Hilltoppers for two seasons and rightfully earned his spot in the Athletics Hall of Fame. To this day, Fabio still holds the second and third spots for most points in a season (46 in 1999 and 45 in 2000). He is also the second all-time leading scorer (39 career goals) and ranks third in number of goals scored in a single game (4), assists in a game (3), and points in a game (8). In 1999 and 2000, Fabio was the Heartland Conference Most Valuable Player and First Team All-Conference selection, and earned First Team All-Region honors in 2000. He ultimately led the Hilltoppers to two Heartland Conference Championships and one NCAA Tournament Appearance (1999).
Despite his countless athletic successes, Fabio maintains that his proudest accomplishment is raising his two children, Laila (8) and Nando (6). While he admits that it can be challenging to be far from the St. Edward's community while living abroad in Europe and Asia, the relationships he forged on the hilltop remain deeply important to him, and he is always happy to stay in touch with his fellow Hilltoppers.
One piece of advice that Fabio hopes others will heed is to think very carefully about the consequences of their actions. “If you think you are doing something wrong, you probably are,” he says, hearkening back to the integrity St. Edward’s instilled in him. Thinking back on his time as a student, Fabio also emphasizes how much his time on the Men’s soccer team shaped him as a person. “The experience showed me how much you can achieve with dedication, teamwork, and respect for one another.” He fondly recalls how his teammates showed him their support after the San Jose Earthquakes Major League Soccer team drafted him in 2001. “They met me at the airport shirtless and wearing cowboy hats, with the letters of my name painted across their chests. It was priceless.”
Fabio graduated from St. Edward’s with a degree in Photocommunications in 2001. Today, he is an Assistant Coach for Ubon UMT United. In 2018, Fabio earned his Master’s degree in Sport Coaching from Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, England — further demonstrating his commitment to athletic excellence. He is a treasured and estimable addition to the St. Edward’s University Athletics Hall of Fame.
Jeff Howard ’08 – Athletics Hall of Fame
Jeff Howard’s excellence on the golf course earns him a spot in this year’s Athletics Hall of Fame induction class – and in true Holy Cross fashion, he has academic, personal and career successes that are also worthy of recognition.
Jeff graduated from Jasper High School in Plano, Texas. On the Hilltop, his studies in Business and his time on the Men’s Golf team prepared him for a five-year career as a professional golfer, followed by roles in the oil and gas industry – first in accounting for Petro Harvester, and now as a Senior Oil and Gas Consultant for Whitley Penn in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
As a pro golfer, Jeff qualified and competed in one Web.com event. He was a member of the Adams Pro Tour, and he played in seven Texas State Opens. He earned recognition for the Best Professional Finish T3 – Adams Pro Tour event.
His tradition of excellence was apparent in the classrooms of St. Edward’s. For example, he earned GCAA First Team All-America selections in both 2007 and 2008. Jeff says, “St. Edward’s instilled in me the values of hard work, time management, and responsibility to myself and others.”
To today’s Hilltoppers, Jeff shares the most valuable piece of advice he received: “Keep your head down and keep working hard. If you set out to accomplish something, believe in yourself and figure out what it will take to get it done. If things aren’t going as planned, analyze it and make necessary adjustments. I would say the same to today’s students. This can apply to academics, athletics, and all other aspects of life.”
Some of the successes Jeff experienced as a Hilltopper Men’s Golf player include: Earning a Third Team All-America selection in 2008, when he finished tied for 28th at that year’s NCAA National Championships and the Hilltoppers finished in second place overall. He won First Team All-Region honors in 2006 and 2008, and was on the teams that won three Heartland Conference Championships, made four NCAA Regional Tournament appearances and finished third in 2005 at the NCAA National Championship. Jeff earned Medalist honors in 2006 at the Heartland Conference Championship and was a First Team All-Heartland pick in 2006 and 2008 while earning Second Team honors in 2007.
Of all these highlights, Jeff says his favorite Golf memory is the 2008 National Championship final round, when the team made up 12-13 shots on a final nine holes – forcing a three-team playoff.
Jeff continues to enjoy golf with the Hilltoppers – he participates in the annual golf team alumni tournament, supports today’s team, and maintains friendships with former teammates. St. Edward’s University is honored to welcome Jeff Howard into the Athletics Hall of Fame.
Michael Lucksinger ’74 – Distinguished Alumni Award
Nominated by John Barajas hs '62, 66
The 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award belongs to Michael Lucksinger, an alumnus from the Class of 1974 whose personal and academic revelations at St. Edward’s University prepared him for a lifetime of achievement and service to others.
When asked about receiving this award, Michael recalled the most transformative experiences he had as a student. For example, he says the Holy Cross characteristics of community, diversity, and respect broadened his perspective immeasurably. “St. Edward’s was my first true exposure to people with different cultural backgrounds,” he says. “From that came the value of connecting with people personally, and not just superficially.”
Michael recalls a humbling memory – but important lesson – from his exposure to people from all walks of life. He says, “I grew up in a predominantly white, middle class community. Our Catholic parish was very small, and when I was growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, segregation of cultures and races was the societal norm.” That norm changed completely when he arrived at St. Edward’s and joined the Men’s Baseball team.
“One of the players had a Hispanic surname,” Michael recalls. “I assumed he was Catholic, and I also assumed that he spoke Spanish. But neither was true. My teammate was very understanding and not offended by my assumptions, but that day, I learned a very valuable lesson about seeking to truly know others. I will never forget that lesson.”
Michael says that participating in Athletics was a valuable experience. “From success at the youth level, athletes often advance – and encounter athletes who are better, stronger, or more talented,” he says. “To meet that challenge, you have to engender within yourself a deeper personal resolve. Learning to create that resolve within yourself can benefit you in many ways in other parts of your life.”
The resolve and resilience he learned guided Michael toward his academic and career goals: to become an honors student and to be accepted at a major law school.
While earning his Accounting degree with magna cum laude distinction at St. Edward’s University, he was recognized by the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants for excellence in accounting. He then realized his goal of acceptance at a major law school. Michael earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and has since gone on to become a licensed Texas attorney, licensed Certified Public Accountant, licensed escrow officer, and an approved attorney for major title insurance underwriters.
The title insurance agency he founded with partner Wade Hutto in 1979 has grown from one office with two employees to more than forty employees in five offices. Michael also operates his private law practice, which he started in 1996.
He has more than thirty years of experience working as a business, estate planning and real estate attorney in central Texas, but Michael says his proudest accomplishment is guiding his three sons to become strong, caring men. He is father to Daniel, Jon and Ross.
Michael’s desire to help shape future generations is informed by a strong Catholic faith. “There is a power and need for spirituality in all we do as humans,” he says. Michael experienced that power through the university’s faith-based education and its personal approach to students. He says his freshman year Economics Professor, James Koch, demonstrated this power in a meaningful and lasting way.
Michael says, “I was acing all my courses, but Economics just wasn’t clicking for me. I was failing the course and the final exam loomed over me. I went to Professor Koch with my dilemma. I didn’t know what to expect from the meeting, but I thought I might be dressed down for not being smart enough to handle the material, or for not studying hard enough.”
But Professor Koch’s warm understanding transformed Michael’s challenge into a new opportunity. He says that Koch told him, “Forget about taking the final exam. Go to the registrar’s office and drop the course. That way, you’ll get an ‘incomplete’ instead of a bad grade. Then, next year: come back and sign up. By then I think you’ll be okay.”
Re-taking the course during his sophomore year, Michael says that it all clicked and he aced both semesters. For today’s students, Michael advises, “Don’t get discouraged if some part of your studies doesn’t click with you at first. That’s why you are at St. Edward’s – to figure it all out and, most importantly, to engage wholeheartedly with your professors and with any problems you may be experiencing in your journey.”
Michael shares his advice and experiences as a mentor for pre-law students at the university. He also serves on the Gift Planning Advisory Council, which helps donors to plan philanthropic gifts that realize their goals while also advancing the Holy Cross mission on the Hilltop.
Michael himself has given generously to support future generations. He’s established The Michael Lucksinger Endowed Scholarship and regularly donates to priorities such as the Main Building Project, the university’s most critical annual needs, Hilltopper Athletics, the Hilltopper Harvey Emergency Fund, and more.
The Catholic, Holy Cross values that Michael seeks to share with future generations are also part of his family’s history. His uncle, Ravelle, is a university alumnus from the Class of 1928; his father, Thomas, graduated from the now-closed St. Edward’s High School in 1933; and his brother, Thomas S., also earned his high school education at St. Edward’s, graduating in 1959.
The Alumni Association is proud to present its Distinguished Alumni Award to Michael Lucksinger in recognition of his accomplishments and service to others.
Aubrey Taylor '01 – Athletics Hall of Fame
Aubrey Taylor graduated from St. Edward’s with a degree in Marketing in 2001. He says that his proudest accomplishment on the hilltop was finding time to balance his academic and athletic responsibilities effectively. “I graduated with a 3.8 GPA, received the Wall Street Journal Business Student of the Year Award, and played at the number one position on the Men's Tennis team in my senior year. I really wasn’t a particularly gifted scholar or athlete — I achieved my goals through hard work.”
Aubrey’s hard work and dedication are quite apparent in his impressive collection of athletic achievements. In 1998 and in 1999, Aubrey was a four-time First Team All-Conference selection, leading the Hilltoppers to a pair of Heart of Texas Conference Championships and NAIA National Tournament appearances. In 2000, he played on two NCAA Tournament teams, advanced to the Sweet 16, and earned a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District team. To this day, he still holds the St. Edward’s record for career singles winning percentage (.762) and has the second-highest doubles winning percentage (.775).
“The experience of being on the Men's Tennis Team is one that I have treasured since my graduation. I can clearly recollect the camaraderie and sense of belonging that came with being a member of the team. We had a fantastic mentor in Coach Russell Sterns. He taught us not only to succeed on the court, but also gave us valuable life lessons during our time together,” Aubrey warmly recalls.
In addition to honing his skills as an athlete, Aubrey says that St. Edward’s taught him the value of thoughtful discourse. “I learned to listen to others, especially those whose ideas challenged my own.” He says that the most important lesson he hopes to pass on is that by listening to others, we should seek first to understand them instead of seeking for them to understand us. “The world is filled with people who have strong opinions. It needs more people who are willing to truly listen.”
Aubrey credits his time on the hilltop for teaching him perseverance. “St. Edward’s showed me the value of hard work. Even when you don’t have all the tools you need to succeed, dedication and commitment can make up the difference. As I have grown older and have become responsible for the careers of others, I have come to understand how skill alone is never enough. Loyalty, discipline and heart count for far more than talent alone.”
On his athletic victories, Aubrey says that his team often triumphed over more skilled opponents simply because they worked harder and wanted it more. It is clear that Aubrey’s tenacious spirit was essential to his team’s success when he was a student — and he is more than deserving of his place in the Hall of Fame today.
Homecoming Court & Royals
2017 Homecoming Royals
Anna Lopez and Jamie Cardenas
2017 Homecoming Court
From left to right: Jamie Cardenas, Sharnicia Dotson, Steve Aoudou, Anna Lopez, Jonathan Edwards, Ashley Lopez, Dylan Ramos, Aaron Kennard, Jordon Washington, Gabriel Calderaro
Topper Cup Champions
Past Topper Cup Champions
2017 – Forensic Association Committed to Truth (F.A.C.T.)
2016 – Forensic Association Committed to Truth (F.A.C.T.)
2015 - Aqua Gods
2014 - Aqua Gods
2013 - Team Fat Amy
2012 - Team XII
2011 - Hilltop Leadership Development | DHL
2010 - Hilltop Leadership Development
2009 - Hilltop Leadership Development
2008 - Shenanigans
2007 - Class of 2007
2006 - Class of 2006
2005 - Class of 2005