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West Texas A&M University
Alumni Association eNewsletter
April 2017

West Texas A&M University Alumni Association eNewsletter - Let's Catch Up,

Student Makes WT History as 2017 Truman Scholar

WT student Jonathan Espinoza made University history April 12 when he was named the first WT student ever to receive a prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

This accomplishment comes with a $30,000 scholarship for graduate school and puts Espinoza in an elite group. Previous Truman Scholars include U. S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, University of California President Janet Napolitano, This Week host George Stephanopoulos, and numerous other notable individuals.

Espinoza, a junior broadcast journalism and advertising/public relations major from Friona, is one of 62 students from across the United States to be selected as a 2017 Truman Scholar out of a field of 768 candidates from 315 colleges and universities. He is one of two students named a 2017 Truman Scholar from the state of Texas.

Not only is Espinoza the University’s first Truman Scholar, he is the first student from a regional university in The Texas A&M University System to ever receive the honor. In the program’s more than 40-year history, there have been four recipients from Texas A&M University, only three of which were Texans.

“This is a history-making moment for WT—our first Truman Scholar ever—and I am so proud of Jonathan for this very impressive distinction,” Dr. Walter Wendler, WTAMU president, said. “His accomplishment is a testament to the students we have at WT and what they can accomplish. I’m sure his hometown of Friona joins us in congratulating Jonathan on this significant honor.”

With the $30,000 scholarship provided by the Harry S. Truman Foundation, Espinoza hopes to study at the University of California, Berkeley. He is interested in the field of LGBT advocacy and plans to work toward a master’s degree in journalism as well as a law degree. After earning his degrees, Espinoza plans to return home to Texas, where he can work in social advocacy to help promote equality and end discrimination.

“I’m so excited about being named a Truman Scholar,” Espinoza said, “but it’s more important that the University gets recognized. I don’t want to be the only one—I want to open the door for other Truman Scholars at WT.”

Espinoza and his fellow 2017 Truman Scholars will be recognized May 28 at a special ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. In addition to the scholarship, recipients also get the opportunity to participate in professional development programming to help prepare them for careers in public service leadership.

Save the Date with Designer Gowns

By Brittany Castillo '14

The two friends met freshmen year, became each other’s bridesmaids and now, Canyon’s newest business partners.

WT alumnae Colette Lane ’14, and Avery Pinkerton ’14, dreamed of one day working together and have made it a reality through Ruthette’s Bridal, the first wedding dress shop in Canyon. The desire to celebrate brides-to-be came when Lane and Pinkerton were shopping for their own gowns and found a limited selection in the Panhandle area. While searching for the perfect dress, they became knowledgeable of notable designers and developed a sense of style that would inspire dress selection in their future shop.

"One weekend in college, we saw a woman selling Silver Jeans, and we became interested in wholesale after talking to her. We knew we’d open a shop eventually, and when Avery was buying her wedding dress, we knew that was it. Dresses were what we wanted to sell,” Lane said.

With designers like Wtoo by Watters, Tara Keely, Jim Hjelm, Ti Adora, and Alvina Valenta, Lane and Pinkerton describe their shop’s flair as bold and a little untraditional. The style of dresses range from mermaid to a-line with bodices embellished in glimmering beads, floral lace and shimmering satin. There are fun pops of color and even a pink wedding dress for the more vibrant bride.

We spent the past four years following designers on social media and once we finally connected with them, they sent an application to us for approval as an authorized retailer because no one else within 300 miles is allowed to have the same selection. It’s exclusive,” Pinkerton said. “Choosing the dresses came easily because we have similar tastes. We work really well together."

In 2014, the pair graduated from WT with communication degrees and successful internship experiences at the Top O’ Texas Football, where they first noticed the complementary strengths of business and creativity in their partnership. Pinkerton’s middle name “Ruth” and Lane’s first name “Colette” was merged to give a name to their collaboration, and by 2016, both were newlyweds, mothers to one-year-old sons and business partners of Ruthette’s Bridal.

"We’ve had a lot of help. Executive Director of the Canyon Economic Development Corporation, Evelyn Ecker, and the consultants at the Small Business Development Center have been amazing. It’s encouraging to see business professionals be excited about our business,” Lane said. “We still have a lot to learn, but we’re excited to contribute to Canyon and give brides a dream experience.

Their new shop is located on the Square right next to the Cake Company. Keep up-to-date with the Ruthette’s and the shop’s grand opening on Facebook at @ruthettesbridal or

Allen Selected for Fellows Program

Congratulations to Angela Allen ’93, chief diversity and inclusion officer at WT for being one of two candidates selected from across the United States to participate in Cohort 4 of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education’s (NADOHE) Chief Diversity Officer Fellows Program (CDOFP) for the 2017-2018 academic year.

The CDOFP is a professional leadership/mentorship program for new and early career chief diversity officers. The goal of the one academic year CDOFP is to provide the Fellow with mentoring by a senior level CDO and guided professional development experiences. Allen’s mentor for the year is Dr. Carmen Suarez, vice president for global diversity and inclusion at Portland State University in Portland, Ore.

“I’m so excited,” Allen said. “My goal is to get a deeper understanding of the role of a diversity and inclusion officer and how I can best serve West Texas A&M University.”

During her one-year term as a Fellow, Allen will visit her mentor’s campus in Portland for on-site learning and enrichment. In turn, her mentor will visit WT to better understand the diversity issues and challenges here.

Piehl to Receive Honorary Degree

Longtime supporter and WT alumna Helen Piehl ’71, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Education degree during spring commencement exercises at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13 at the First United Bank Center.

Honorary degrees offer the University an opportunity to reward excellence in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, humanities and the arts, scholarship and education, business and philanthropy and social services with significant and lasting contributions to the community.

Piehl has served as a member and president of the WTAMU Foundation board of directors, the WTAMU Women’s Council and is a member of the WTAMU College of Education and Social Sciences Advisory Council. Piehl is a 2005 Distinguished Alumna, recipient of the 2010 Old Main Society Pinnacle Award, a Texas 4-H Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, WTAMU Buffalo Club Lifetime Buffalo and a WTAMU President’s Circle Emeritus Circle. She also has been recognized by Beta Sigma Phi, Amarillo Women’s Network, Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center, Amarillo Area Women’s Forum and more.

Her support at WTextends to numerous scholarships, including a President’s honor Scholarship in honor of Bill Piehl and several academic scholarships. The Piehl name also is attached to various programs: the WTAMU Center for Learning Disabilities, The Helen Piehl Center for Learning Disabilities Distinguished Lecture Series Endowment, WTAMU Travel Partners Endowment and the Rogers Leadership Education and Development Program. There are named classrooms and facilities—Piehl-Schaeffer Agriculture Pavilion, Agriculture Sciences Complex named classroom and the Randall County Event Center-Piehl Family Arena.

The WT community applauds Piehl on this well-deserved honor.

Spring Pinning

Alumni present new graduates with a WT Alumni lapel pin as they cross the stage at Commencement. If you are an alumnus who would like to be part of Spring Pinning, please contact Amber Bustos at 806-651-2651.

Upcoming Events

May 6
WT Night with The Amarillo Venom, 7 p.m.
Alumni use code “WT” at for special $10 tickets.

May 12
Spring Ring Ceremony, 4 p.m.,  JBK, Legacy Hall

May 13
Spring Commencement
10 a.m.—College of Education and Social Sciences, School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics
2 p.m.—Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, College of Nursing and Health Sciences
6 p.m.—College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, College of Business

Oct. 14
Homecoming 2017 - for details on upcoming events
University calendar - for a complete schedule of campus events
gobuffsgo  - for complete schedule of WT athletic events - for a complete schedule of Your Community, Your University presentations

WTAMU Alumni Association 102 N 25th Street, Canyon TX 79016
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