2019 Gold Nugget
Carolyn Moody Drake, School of Nursing, BSN, 1975
For decades, Carolyn Moody Drake has served her community as an RN, then as a volunteer. Among a wide range of community service, Moody Drake has focused much of her energy on the PARTNERS organization, which supports The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Cizik School of Nursing by raising funds for nursing scholarships and faculty research grants. She was the chair of PARTNERS in 2012-13 and continues to be involved as a lifetime member. A popular presenter on health care topics, Moody Drake ebulliently shares her knowledge and passion about nursing with others. She also drives, cooks and opens her home for those in need - most recently in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey flooding in 2017 in southeast Texas. A lifetime member of the UTEP Alumni Association, Moody Drake said, "UTEP taught me to value a high-quality education in a multicultural environment, and it solidified an ideology based on caring and kindness."
2018 Gold Nuggets
Annie L. Garcia, MSN in Nursing Systems Management, 2013
A year after completing her graduate degree in 2013, Annie Garcia was hired as the chief nursing officer at Methodist Texsan Hospital in San Antonio, where she was instrumental in the hospital’s efforts to improve nursing engagement, patient experience and quality outcomes. In 2017, she was named chief nursing officer at Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso.
Christina I. Paz, DNP. 2013
Dr. Christina Ilene Paz, is the chief operating officer at Centro San Vicente Family Health Center in El Paso. As a member of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, she has met with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of community health centers and the vulnerable populations they serve.
2017 Gold Nugget
Erik Cazares, B.S. in Nursing, 2000
Erik Cazares is the chief nursing officer at The Hospitals of Providence Sierra Campus in El Paso. He mentors young hospital leaders and nurses. He is recognized as someone who is articulate, inspirational and a role model. He is a national voice for his profession in nursing organizations.
2016 Gold Nugget
Karen Lyon, Ph.D. B.S. in Nursing, 1974; M.S. in Nursing, 1978
Karen Lyon, Ph.D., was one of El Paso’s first baccalaureate prepared nurses to graduate from The University of Texas System School of Nursing in 1974 and one of the first students in the new Master of Science in Nursing program at the UTEP College of Nursing. She joined UTEP as a faculty member in 1979. In 2004, she was named assistant dean of graduate nursing. During her tenure with the University, Lyon developed the graduate degree in nursing systems management and UTEP’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Fast Track Program. She currently serves as executive director of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.
2015 Gold Nuggets
Jean Foret Giddens, Ph.D., M.S. in Nursing, 1986
Earning a Master of Science in Nursing from UTEP marked the beginning of Jean Foret Giddens’ distinguished career in nursing academia. A nationally recognized expert in nursing education, curricula and evaluation, Giddens was named dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing in 2013. She is the author of numerous nursing textbooks and previously served as the dean of the College of Nursing at the University of New Mexico.
Sylvia Martinez, B.S. in Nursing, 1983
As a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Providence Memorial Hospital for 13 years, Sylvia Martinez cared for critically ill newborns while offering their parents much-needed comfort and support. The first-generation college graduate parlayed that experience into opening Altomar, a home health care agency, in 2000. The company, which started with eight employees, has grown to 65 contracted employees and serves more than 450 clients in El Paso County and southern New Mexico.
2013 Gold Nuggets
Helen M. Castillo, Ph.D. B.S. in Nursing, 1974
Among the first to graduate from the RN to B.S.N. (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program in 1974, Dr. Castillo combined her two passions – helping others and teaching. In 1976, she began teaching leadership and management courses at what is today the UTEP School of Nursing. Dr. Castillo continued on as a faculty member at the school, eventually serving as chair of the UTEP nursing program when it was part of the College of Nursing and Allied Health. She retired in 2009 as dean of the College of Health and Human Development at California State University at Northridge.
Stan Harmon, B.S. in Nursing, 1993
With a bachelor’s degree in nursing from UTEP and MSN from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Mr. Harmon is now a family nurse practitioner at William Beaumont Army Medical Center at Fort Bliss. He serves on the Advanced Practice Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Nursing and two committees for the Texas Nurse’s Association representing Advanced Practice.
2012 Gold Nugget
Enrique Mata, B.S. in Nursing, 1997
As a senior program officer with the Paso Del Norte Health Foundation, Mr. Mata promotes regional health and disease prevention on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. His initiatives have resulted in major enhancements to the region’s health and wellness infrastructure and in appreciably improved health outcomes among residents. Achievements include the creation of three major centers in Chihuahua, Mexico, to provide meals, transportation, physical activity and mental health support to several thousand older adults, and the development of a national model for coordinated school health that, in El Paso, resulted in a 13 percent decrease in prevalence of obesity among fourth graders.
2011 Gold Nuggets
Colleen Jernigan, M.S. in Nursing Administration, 1999
Dr. Jernigan entered the UTEP master’s program in nursing at the age of 40 to fulfill a job requirement for a position that needed an advanced nursing degree. Earning her master’s degree would open wide the door to a position at Houston’s University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, acclaimed by many as the No. 1 cancer hospital in the world. She accepted the job of nurse manager and within four years was promoted to clinical administrative director for the hospital’s Sarcoma Center. After receiving her doctorate in nursing, Dr. Jernigan also serves as an adjunct faculty in Texas Women’s University and UTEP.
Linda Lawson, B.S. in Nursing, 1987
After graduating from UTEP in 1987, she worked as a nurse at Lubbock General Hospital, and then returning to El Paso to work as a nurse in the ICU/Post- Anesthesia Care Unit at Providence Memorial Hospital. She also worked in hospital from Houston Boson and returned to El Paso be the Chief Nursing Officer for Sierra Medical Center in 2008. Ms. Lawson also serves as a surveyor for the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program, which recognizes excellence in professional nursing practice at hospitals worldwide, Ms. Lawson also has lobbied the Texas Legislature to continue funding nursing schools to address the statewide nursing shortage.
2010 Gold Nuggets
Yvonne Acosta, B.S.in Nursing 1983, M.S.N in Nursing-Maternal
As a lawyer, Yvonne Acosta might seem an unlikely choice for the Gold Nugget Award from UTEP’s School of Nursing. After graduating from UTEP, she worked at an El Paso hospital in various capacities, including staff nurse and patient educator in newborn and obstetrics nursing. She also served as an associate professor of nursing at UTEP. Ms. Acosta also became an advocate for those in the profession of nursing. Ms. Acosta also received a law degree from ST. Mary’s University in San Antonio in 1995 in order to defend and protect doctors and nurses from liability challenges.
Gloria Bombach, B.S. in Nursing, 1977
Ms. Bombach has spent most of her career rural towns. In 1980, she and her husband, a general physician, opened a practice in Beaver, Oklahoma, which has a population of about 1200. As the clinic’s business manager, she found time to conduct free seminars throughout the area on self-breast examinations and Lamaze childbirth methods. After her divorce, she moved to Dalhart, Texas, population of about 7000, where she works for Dalhart Independent School District as the school nurse. Although the town is larger than Beaver, OK, it is still small enough that more than 1,000 school children depend almost solely on her for quality care.