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UTEP Announces 2019 Distinguished Alumni

Last Updated on July 15, 2019 at 12:01 AM

Originally published July 15, 2019

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

Every year, The University of Texas at El Paso and the UTEP Alumni Association honor a group of men and women whose achievements stand out as monuments to dedication, integrity and hard work - they are the UTEP Distinguished Alumni.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni honorees exemplify the talent and drive that was cultivated here at UTEP,” Maribel Villalva, assistant vice president for alumni relations, said. “Each of these individuals, whether it was on their own or as part of a dedicated team, has gone on to represent UTEP at the highest levels and they each credit UTEP for giving them the foundation and the opportunities to be successful.”

Villalva said that national and international organizations in the fields of art, science, government and technology have recognized the work of each awardee. Together, they show future generations of students that dreams, coupled with opportunity and a great education, can make anything possible.

“These honorees represent the University as a whole and they join a long list of previous Distinguished Alumni who continue to elevate UTEP’s reputation as an institution that produces greatness,” Villalva said.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest recognition bestowed upon alumni of the University. In brief, here are the stories of UTEP’s 2019 Distinguished Alumni.


Roberto Coronado, Ph.D. / BBA Accounting and Economics, 2000 / M.S. Economics, 2002

Roberto Coronado, Ph.D., currently serves as senior vice president in charge and senior economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, El Paso Branch.

After earning his bachelor's degree in accounting and economics, Coronado eagerly returned to UTEP to pursue his master's degree in economics. Shortly into his graduate program, he landed an internship at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, El Paso Branch. What began as a temporary, unpaid position led to an 18-year career. The young, ambitious economist continued his education at the University of Houston, where he earned his doctorate in economics, which helped him ascend the organization's ranks.

Today, Coronado oversees the bank's economic research and outreach functions in West Texas and Southern New Mexico, and recruits branch board members.

"UTEP was very welcoming and offers a lot of support to students like me," Coronado said. "If you are determined that you want to be successful, UTEP provides the resources to make it happen. Trust me, if I could do it, you can do it."

Miguel Fernandez and Rodrigo Fernandez

Miguel Fernandez Jr. / BBA, 1998
Rodrigo Fernandez / BBA, 2001

Miguel Fernandez Jr. and Rodrigo Fernandez are brothers from the Paso del Norte region who co-founded a telecommunications network with three other people to provide communication services in previously underserved communities in Mexico. It evolved into a business that employs hundreds and created a fiber-optic network that spans approximately 8,000 route miles.

In 2001, the two collaborated to create Transtelco, a telecommunications service provider that covers the United States and Mexico and provides voice and data services to Fortune 1000 companies and other businesses. Its coverage area stretches from Los Angeles and Dallas in the United States to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, at the southern tip of Mexico.

"Students need to have their eyes open and realize there are a lot of opportunities, and the people who are able to leverage that are the people who understand what the border is about," Rodrigo Fernandez said. "That was me."

Andrea Gates-Ingle and Stephen Ingle

Andrea C. Gates-Ingle / B.A. Special Education, 1999
Stephen Ingle / B.A. Graphic Design, 2003

Creative Kids, a nonprofit organization established 20 years ago, began as a labor of love for Stephen Ingle and his then girlfriend, now wife, Andrea C. Gates-Ingle who met while attending UTEP.

Creative Kids has grown since then. The nonprofit has earned national recognition for providing a high-quality creative youth development program that utilizes the visual arts to empower children with cognitive or physical disabilities, children battling illness, underserved children or just those with an artistic knack.

As for receiving the UTEP Distinguished Alumni Award, the pair said they were humbled and proud of the recognition.

"It is amazing for someone to see what we've done and recognize it," Ingle said. "This is something that we will really cherish and carry as an accomplishment. We have won awards from the city and other recognitions, but this award is from our school, where we learned to do what we do. Getting this award makes it all worth it and we are proud to be part of the UTEP legacy."


Curtis Parkin, Ph.D. / B.S. Physics, 1963

The U.S. Army allowed Curtis Parkin, Ph.D. who also was in Texas Western College's Army ROTC program, to delay his active duty service in order to study nuclear and radiation physics at Vanderbilt University's U.S. Atomic Energy Commission postgraduate fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, where he then earned his master's and doctoral degrees in experimental plasma physics.

In 1968, the Army assigned Parkin to active duty at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He applied his studies to work on magnetometers, equipment that would measure magnetic fields on the moon's surface for the second manned mission to land on the lunar surface, Apollo 12 in November 1969.

Parkin said the success of the magnetometer on Apollo 12 led to funds for four additional magnetometers for the Apollo 14, 15 and 16 missions. He became co-investigator for each project.

He separated from NASA in 1979 and continued to work in related fields in California until he retired in 2015. To this day, Parkin maintains contact with several members of the UTEP fraternity that helped him on his celestial career path.

"One thing I'll be saying to other students, 'Study hard and don't neglect your friends and your connections at the University because they can be helpful for the rest of your life,'" Parkin said.