While Homecoming and Family Weekend is an exciting event for all members of the St. Edward’s University family, it’s a particularly special time for those alumni who are truly coming home. As we celebrate our community, our beautiful campus and our traditions, it’s also important to celebrate those alumni who have lived out the university’s mission after graduation and who have given their support to the generations that have followed them on the hilltop.
Each year, the St. Edward’s Alumni Association recognizes alumni with the Alumni Achievement Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award. The following alumni were chosen as the 2015 award recipients:
Pineda has been actively engaged with the community at St. Edward’s ever since she completed her undergraduate degree in 2000. Soon after graduating, she joined the Young Alumni Council and helped young alumni stay connected to the university. "Young alumni have a responsibility," she said. "It is our charge to give back so that more people can experience what we did at St. Edward’s." From 2010 to 2012, she served on the St. Edward's Alumni Association Board, and in 2010, she established The Carlos and Victoria Gutierrez Annual Scholarship in memory of her father and in honor of her mother.
As the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in her hometown of El Paso, she is an advocate for students, working tirelessly to ensure that they have every opportunity to be educated and fulfill their dreams. "This work brings me great joy," she says. "Being able to work with donors and help them leave their legacy is incredible work, and it is truly what gets me up in the morning and keeps me up late at night."
"St. Edward's guiding principles of love and care for community, service learning, the pursuit of excellence and making the world a better place have defined my life," she says. "They are always at the forefront of what I do and help remind me why I do what I do." For Pineda, St. Edward's is a special place. "St. Edward's leaves its mark indelibly on your heart, and you are forever changed for the better after experiencing life on the Hilltop."
Peña is executive director and CEO of the Hispanic Dental Association, a national, non-profit 501(c)3 organization comprised of oral- health professionals and students dedicated to promoting and improving the oral health of the Hispanic community.
Peña’s ties to St. Edward's are strong, and he has given his time, skills and resources to the university community since he graduated. From 1994 to 2001, he was a member of the St. Edward's Alumni Association Board of Directors, and over the years he has presented about St. Edward's University and the importance of higher education to high school students in the Rio Grande Valley, in Deep South Texas. Having come from a migrant farmworker family and being a College Assistance Migrant Program scholarship recipient, he knows first-hand that some students need to understand that a college education opens doors of opportunity.
"As a migrant student, St. Edward's University transformed me and allowed me to dream, to grow and to prosper. What I experienced at St. Edward’s provided me with a view of what was possible with an education," he says. "St. Edward's University is where it all started for me: professionally, individually and collectively. Because of what I received and what I learned at St. Edward's, I have been able to lead four national organizations, travel, and make a difference to my family and my communities."