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Gala honorees credit UT Arlington with shaping their careers

Terry Steelman didn't think he belonged at UT Arlington when he set foot on campus in 1973. He wasn't sure he was college material.

He quickly found out differently.

"Not only did I belong here, I could excel here," the 1977 architecture graduate said in his acceptance remarks at the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Gala in October. "There was this phenomenal community of people who were really interested in me being successful."

Steelman has become quite a success. The executive principal and director of design for Ballinger Architects in Philadelphia has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Progressive Architecture Award for his work on the Samsung America office building in Piscataway, N.J.

He was one of nine recognized as Distinguished Alumni, the highest honor bestowed by the University and the Alumni Association. The award recognizes graduates for individual achievements, contributions to their industries or professions and service to UT Arlington.

Honoree Lu Pham ('87 BA, Political Science) credits Professor Charles Knerr with giving him the confidence to become a lawyer.

"I have never met a professor who believes more in his students," said Pham, managing partner for Fort Worth-based Lynn Pham & Ross LLP, the largest labor and employment boutique law firm in Texas. "I can't think of a better ambassador for this university than Dr. Knerr."

Pham, one of 18 members of his family to graduate from UT Arlington, says he never misses an opportunity to trumpet its greatness. Calling his education "first class," he said the University has opened many doors for him and his family.

"If anyone were to tell me 32 years ago that an immigrant who doesn't speak English would have the opportunities that I've had, I'd tell them it couldn't happen," he said. "But it has. I believe deep down that I am living proof that America is still the land of opportunity."

Proceeds from the gala benefit scholarships. The 2008 event will be Oct. 11.

Gala honorees

Honorees Lu Pham, Phil Porter, Dan Sefko and Alumni Association President Theresa Berend at the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Gala in the E.H. Hereford University Center.

Gala honorees

Honorees Charles Cannon, Lillie Biggins and Michael Baylor.

Gala honorees

Honorees Kelcy Warren, Terry Steelman and Wesley Wampler.

— Mark Permenter

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