West Texas A&M University Alumni Association eNewsletter
West Texas A&M University
Alumni Association eNewsletter
January 2016

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

A Rising Star

Abril Vazquez '13, '15She just earned her master’s degree in social work at West Texas A&M University, but Abril Vazquez ’13, ’15, has already made an indelible mark in the community through her work on campus and at the Hope and Healing Place in Amarillo. Her work hasn’t gone unnoticed, and Los Barrios of Amarillo recognized her last fall with a Rising Star Award.

The coveted award recognizes young Hispanics who make a difference in their community, and that is something Vazquez has definitely done. She is the founder of La Esperanza, a Spanish-speaking support group, and organized the first Suicide Awareness Day at WT.

“I nominated Abril for the award at the recommendation of a colleague who had begun attending Abril’s Spanish-speaking grief group at the Hope and Healing Place,” Amy Hord, instructor of social work, said. “Abril identified the need for a Spanish-speaking support group in our community. She is very plugged in, working to educate youth about healthy choices. The Rising Star Award recognizes young Hispanics who are making a difference and that is certainly Abril.”

Vazquez grew up in Amarillo and has overcome tremendous odds to earn her education. Both of her parents are from Mexico City and have less than a middle school education. She struggled as a teen mother but was determined to pursue her education. The strength of her family supported her, but Vazquez’s own self-reliance and willingness to achieve paid off in dividends. She earned an associate degree in social work from Amarillo College in 2011, a bachelor’s degree in social work at WT in 2013 and her master’s this past December.

While working on her master’s degree in 2015, Vazquez was named the recipient of the Jack Duncan Rhodes scholarship at WT. It was a turning point for her and opened many doors of opportunity for the determined student.

“I received the phone call as I was preparing myself to drop graduate school because I could no longer afford it,” she said. “I began an internship with The Hope and Healing Place soon after, and it flourished into a part-time job. I started the new support group in the fall of 2015. It is called La Esperanza, meaning hope in Spanish. The scholarship also inspired my idea of the Suicide Awareness event on campus. I wanted to help achieve the goal of the scholarship by raising awareness and hopefully preventing suicide.”

Plans are in place for a spring session of La Esperanza, meeting every other week for eight weeks at the Hope and Healing Place to help families through their grief journey. It is hoped that Vazquez’s Suicide Awareness event also will become an annual occurrence at WT.

The scholarship came at the right time, and the Rising Star Award was a big surprise for her.

“As Hispanic women or a woman in general, we really need to encourage women to pursue their dreams and continue past their struggles. I wouldn’t have made it where I am in life without some very influential people—Edna Medrano, Mark Leach, Claudia Stravato, Connie Bradford, Pam Kinnan, all of the staff at North Heights Alternative School and my parents.”

A good support system and determination have definitely proven beneficial for the Rising Star recipient. Her list of accomplishments as a student are more than impressive, and if her post-graduation plans are any indication, Vazquez is only getting started on a very bright and successful future. She hopes to further develop the support group and continue her full-time job at Haven Health Clinics. But her big dream is to find a way to help teen parents; whether by developing a non-profit or a job that would help teen parents pursue secondary and post-secondary education.

“I feel really good about where I'm at, raising two kids as a single mother, a full-time job, a part-time job and being finished with school. I feel great about my future, and I hope that I can impact someone's life and encourage them to eliminate any barriers they may have and embrace them so they can succeed.”

A Master's Degree that Makes a Difference The West Texas A&M University online PACE program not only can give you a meaningful new career and a master's degree -- it can make a difference in the lives of students in your classroom. To learn more, please join us at an information session. 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, Panhandle Conference Center A Region 16 ESC, 5800 Bell Street, Amarillo. OR 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 2, Old Main, Room 220, WTAMU Main Campus. Visit wtamu.edu/pace for more information or call 806-651-2599

Regional Development Update

Wellington Wows

Local auctioneer Keith Martin ’75, auctions off items at the Wellington chapter event on Jan. 5 to raise money for their chapter scholarship, the Wellington Alumni Chapter Skyrockets in Flight Scholarship. Standing with Martin is Toby Tarver ’04 of Wellington.

Local auctioneer Keith Martin ’75, auctions off items at the Wellington chapter event on Jan. 5 to raise money for their chapter scholarship, the Wellington Alumni Chapter Skyrockets in Flight Scholarship. Standing with Martin is Toby Tarver ’04 of Wellington.

The entire population of Wellington is less than 2,200—roughly the number of WT alumni in the DFW metropolitan area.  It made quite an impression when more than 50  WT alumni gathered Jan. 5 at the Ritz Theatre in Wellington to celebrate WT and raise money to establish the West Texas Skyrockets in Flight Scholarship. Not only is the newly established WT alumni chapter well on its way to endowing the new scholarship, it now represents more than 30 new members of the Alumni Association. Plus, plans are already in the making for another event this spring.
This passion for WT and the success of their students means Wellington now represents one of the largest active alumni chapters we have. We are excited to see Buff Pride in action and look forward to the Old Timers Basketball Tourney in March. Go Buffs.

WT alumni of Wellington gathered.

Fall Alumni Magazine Available

The fall issue of the Alumni Association’s West Texan is now available online at wtamu.edu/ alumni/west-texan-alumni-magazine.aspx. Check it out for photo highlights of the fall semester as well as stories about the University’s record enrollment, longtime professor Dr. Gerald Schultz, former Buff Charly Martin and a new feature on young alumni called Ones to Watch. Work on the spring/summer issue begins soon so send alumni news, story ideas and suggestions to Rana McDonald at rmcdonald@wtamu.edu.

Homecoming 2016

Plans for reunions, tailgates and football will begin soon so mark your calendars now for Homecoming 2016 at West Texas A&M University. A week of activities will build the excitement for game time when the Buffs face Texas A&M—Kingsville Saturday, Oct. 8 at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium. Watch for more information at gobuffsgo.com.

From the Director

Dear Buff Family:

Becky Stogner photo

We’ve got a lot going on in the new few months as regional development continues in several cities. Our alumni are taking the lead in planning events that are relevant and fun for everyone, and it’s exciting to see the momentum around the country. Be sure to take part in an event in your city. If there isn’t one, we can help you put something together.

On the home front, we had the privilege of hosting the Lady Buffs basketball team for lunch over the holiday break. What a wonderful group of women—scholastically, athletically and all-around. Be sure to watch your favorite WT athletes this spring—it’s shaping up to be an exciting semester.

Stay in touch with us at buffalum.com and on social media. Let us know what you’d like to know more about. 

Go Buffs.

Becky Stogner

WT Alumni in Quito, Ecuador

Kristine Combs, director of WT’s international student office, got the chance to catch up with some WT alumni while in Quito for a recruitment fair in November. Those pictured with Combs include Christian Arellanon ’04, Christian Ponce ’06, Maria Dolores Molina ’12, Rosa Regalado ’08, Miguel Grijalva ’15, Maria Lorena Sevilla ’06, and Alexandra Balarezo ’11.

Kristine Combs with WT alumni in Quito

WT alumni met in Quito.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 3
Fort Worth Alumni Chapter Happy Hour, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Crazy Cowboy, Bedford

Feb. 4
Dallas Alumni Chapter Happy Hour, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Social House, Addison

Feb. 12
Texas Music Educators Association’s Convention Alumni Night, Menger Hotel, San Antonio, 9:30-11 p.m.

Feb. 18
Houston Alumni Event—TBA

April 30
Annual Phoenix Banquet honoring 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

May 13
Spring Ring Ceremony

May 14
Spring Commencement, 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., First United Bank Center

Visit Buffalum.com for updates on upcoming events in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston and more.

Visit the University calendar for a complete schedule of campus events.
Visit gobuffsgo for complete schedule of WT athletic events.

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