Class Notes


All the latest professional updates from our talented alumni all over the world.





Peggy Ruth Barnes Wakeland

(BA, Health, Physical Education, and Recreation) leads the Bass Upper School of Fort Worth Country Day, a coed college-preparatory school in Fort Worth. Hired as an Upper School math teacher in 1994, she was promoted to assistant head and interim head of Upper School. Previously, she held teaching, coaching, and leadership roles within the Castleberry, Texas, and Fort Worth independent school districts.




Daryl Meredith

(BS, Mechanical Engineering) of York, Pennsylvania, returned to the Dewalt Division of Stanley Black & Decker as a part-time instructor of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing and power tool safety after retiring with 34 years of service.




Ken Cummins Hall

(BS, Civil Engineering) is vice president and southwest regional manager at Hazen and Sawyer, an environmental engineering firm in Fort Worth. He serves on the advisory board of UTA’s College of Engineering.


Richie Whitt

(BA, Journalism) is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. He previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-TelegramDallas Observer, and 105.3 FM The Fan.




Roberto Izaguirre

(BA, Speech) is chief operating officer of Arrow Fastener Company LLC. He previously served as vice president of global sales. Prior to joining Arrow, Izaguirre served as executive vice president and general manager at Signature Control Systems Inc. in Illinois.


Rob Witherspoon

(BS, Aerospace Engineering; ’85 BA, Physical Education) of Graham, Texas, has written two books available on Amazon: The Square Root of Texas, a political satire, and Deus Tex Machina, a religious satire.




Lauretta Buckley Hill

(BA, Criminology and Criminal Justice) is the assistant vice president and chief at the Department of Public Safety for the University of Southern California. Previously, she was chief of police for the Dallas College Police Department, deputy chief at the Miami Beach Police Department in Florida, and assistant chief at the Arlington Police Department in Texas. She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management School, and Cornell University’s program in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Building a Diverse Workforce.




Rajesh “Raj” Chundury

(MS, Computer Science and Engineering) is the chief technical officer and vice president of customer solutions-broadband access at Radisys, a global open telecom solutions company. He spent 23 years at Ericsson.


Patricia “Reace” Alvarenga Smith

(BA, Journalism) has been named to the board of directors of the southwest district for the Public Relations Society of America. She is vice president of corporate communications for Republic National Distributing Company. Prior to that, Smith held positions at Dean Foods, Dex Media, and Texas Health Resources.




Arin Barooah

(BA, Interdisciplinary Studies) was named to Healthcare Technology Report’s Top 25 Healthcare Technology Leaders of Houston for 2022. He is senior vice president of customer experience for Acutus Medical Inc.




Cristi Landrum

(BS, Architecture) joined Perkins Eastman as a principal and regional residential practice area leader in Dallas and Fort Worth. Previously, she was an associate vice president at CallisonRTKL in Dallas.


Stephanie Sneed

(BS, Interdisciplinary Studies) was elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board in North Carolina. She serves as the board’s vice chair. A labor and employment law attorney, she has served on the CMS Bonds Oversight Committee and is an active founding board member of the Charlotte Community Think Tank, a group that raises awareness of education issues.




Whitney Eichinger

(BA, Journalism) is senior vice president of culture and communications for Southwest Airlines. She previously was vice president of culture and engagement. She has also worked for Ford Motor Co., Detroit-based Rock Ventures, and Bedrock Detroit.




George Cannata

(MSW, ’97 BSW) was appointed director of the Office of Community-Based Care Transition by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Previously, he served 25 years with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, most recently as the regional director of Child Protective Services in North Texas, covering 81 counties.


Kimberly A. McClain

(BA, Psychology) is the assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental relations for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She previously was deputy assistant secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. She is a retired U.S. Air Force officer with over 25 years of experience, including leading congressional strategy for the Air Force and working in policy development at the U.S. Department of Defense.



Honoring Their Service

This year, UTA’s Military Science Department inducted two outstanding U.S. Army veterans into the Hall of Honor: James Tomlin (’63 BBA, Management) and Theron Ray Arrington (’63 BBA, Management). Tomlin, who retired as a major, and Arrington, who retired as an aviation officer with a secondary specialty as combat signal, both attended Arlington State College and served two tours in Vietnam. Paul Kim, a retired captain for the U.S. Army, was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Honor for both his service to the nation and the Military Science Department as an MSII instructor from 2019-22. Kim was killed in Ukraine on October 5, 2022.





David Wharton

(BA, English) is editor-in-chief at the Five Star Institute, a Dallas-based national trade association supporting the U.S. residential mortgage and real estate market. He previously worked at Thomson Reuters.




Mary-Margaret Lemons

(BA, Public Relations) started a four-day work week for employees of Fort Worth Housing Solutions, where she has been president since 2017. The schedule started just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency has about 1,500 units in development and manages 6,400 rental assistance vouchers across various programs that help 33,000 people cover housing costs every day.




Deven Hoevers

(BS, Criminal Justice) is director of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center in Brownwood, Texas. He was a member of UTA’s ROTC program and is a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq.




Christopher S. “Chris” Allen

(MA, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies; ’96 BA, History) is superintendent of the Midway Independent School District in Texas. He was superintendent at Marble Falls ISD in Texas and previously served Midway as a high school principal and assistant superintendent.


Samuel Digby

(MPA) was elected class president of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration’s 59th School of Executive Leadership. He has served the Dallas Police Department for more than 22 years and is president of Digby’s Protection Group LLC.




James Earp

(MPA) is city manager for Hutto, Texas. He previously served as assistant city manager for Kyle, Texas. He received the 2019 Distinguished Public Administrator Award of the American Society of Public Administration and is a member of the board of directors for Alliance Regional Water Authority.




Tom Ballenger

(MBA, Management) is vice president of Unmanned Aerial Systems group for Berry Aviation in San Marcos, Texas. Previously, he was director of business capture for John H. Northrop & Associates in San Antonio, Texas.


Jason Gay

(MBA, Business; ’01 BS, Mathematics) is the new district manager for the High Desert District of Wyoming for the Bureau of Land Management

(BLM). As district manager, he oversees approximately 9.6 million acres of BLM-managed public land spanning the Kemmerer, Pinedale, Rawlins, and Rock Springs field office areas. He earned a law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and served as a deputy county and prosecuting attorney in Rawlins.


Michelle Cortez Gonzales

(BFA, Painting) displayed her exhibit, Past Is Present, at Dallas College’s North Lake campus. Gonzales is a multidisciplinary artist who works in a range of mediums, including paint, found materials, video, and installation. She is the public art project manager for the Arts Council of Fort Worth.



Shelley Jeoffroy (’04 BA, English) was named the 2023 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators and was also chosen to represent Texas in the 2023 National Teacher of the Year competition. She is a fifth-grade math teacher at Otis Brown Elementary School in the Irving Independent School District. She also has taught in Kenya, Peru, Mexico, and Morocco.





Bryson Bowden

(BA, International Business-Spanish) leads the corporate banking team at Bank of Texas in Fort Worth. He previously served as senior vice president at BBVA USA. His community involvement includes serving on the board of directors of Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County since 2017 and as Fort Worth board chair for the Association for Corporate Growth in Dallas-Fort Worth since 2015.




Arjav Dave

(MS, Computer Science and Engineering) is a cofounder and technical director of Wellnest Tech, a company that aims to enable timely diagnosis and analysis of heart health from the convenience of one’s home. The Wellnest 12L device is a Bluetooth-enabled electrocardiograph machine that captures medical-grade patient heart data that can be shared via WhatsApp or email, or printed on a Wi-Fi printer.


LaTosha “DJ” Duffey

(BS, Communication Technology) is a main character on seasons 10 and 11 of Basketball Wives, a VH1 reality show. She first appeared in the 2016 season as a friend of a former star. She is engaged to Imam Shokuohizadeh, an NBA agent and former player. A former DJ for French Montana, Duffey played basketball at UTA from 2006-2010.




Raven Shull

(MBA, Finance; ’09 BBA, Marketing) oversees global sales and client relationships for Ryan, a leading global tax services and software provider. She previously was an account manager with Thomson Reuters.




Leigh Whitaker

(BA, Political Science) is a partner of Wilson Whitaker Rynell, a litigation, intellectual property, and business law firm in Dallas. She is focused on assisting clients in family law, probate law, trademark protection, and civil litigation. Whitaker was selected to the 2021 and 2022 Texas Rising Stars list of Texas Super Lawyers magazine. She received her law degree from South Texas College of Law.




Shelly Williams Conlon

(BA, Journalism) is director at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in South Dakota. She joined the newspaper in 2018 and was most recently the watchdog editor and statewide education reporter.


Peggy Esparza

(MBA, Management; ’11 BBA, Accounting), the new chief financial officer ofTexas Trust Credit Union, was named one of the top 25 Most Powerful Women in credit unions by American Banker.


Uwa Osamede Imafidon

(MS, Biology) was featured in an article about successful young Nigerians around the world in Premium Times, a Nigerian media organization.


Brannigan Maxwell

(MS, Health Care Administration; ’09 BSN) was a contestant on season 3 of Love Is Blind, a Netflix reality show where couples speed date for 10 days and then decide if they want to get engaged, sight unseen. Maxwell is a critical care nurse.




Eduardo Castañeda

(MArch, ’12 BS, Architecture) was named one of Building Design+Construction’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2022. He is a senior associate at CallisonRTKL in Dallas.


Zanab Jaffrey

(BA, Broadcast Communication and Public Relations) was a contestant on season 3 of Love Is Blind, a Netflix reality show where couples speed date for 10 days and then decide if they want to get engaged, sight unseen. Jaffrey is a realtor with Ebby Halliday Realtors in Dallas and a flight attendant for American Airlines.


Stephanie Rivera-Kumar

(MPA; ’10 BA, Interdisciplinary Studies) is a second-year doctoral student in city and regional planning at the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. A 2021 Al DÍA 40 Under 40 honoree, she is a research assistant in the Center for Guaranteed Income Research at the School of Social Policy and Practice.




Kaitlyn Fossier

(MBA, Management) is a commercial escrow officer with Fidelity National Title in Irving, Texas. She handles escrow and title issues in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and New Mexico.




Krista M. Torralva

(BA, Journalism) is a courts and public safety reporter at The Dallas Morning News. Previously, she was an education reporter at the San Antonio Express-News and a courts reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.




Destine Gibson

(BA, Journalism and Public Relations) is a reporter covering Lewisville and Coppell communities for the Community Impact Newspaper. She previously worked as a reporter and digital sports producer for The Dallas Morning News.




Samantha Douty

(BA, Journalism) is editor of several North Texas editions of the Community Impact Newspaper.


Brian Norton

(MPA; ’05 BA, Kinesiology) is deputy director of parks operations and projects for Highland Village, Texas.




Noor Agha

(BA, Education) is a fourth grade English and social studies teacher at Jones Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Languages in Arlington.




Aaron Werner

(MPA) is the executive director at Visit McKinney, Texas, which aims to attract leisure visitors, conferences, and business travelers to the city.


Ashley Williams

(MPA) is the executive director of Engage Dallas. She previously worked as director of public schools’ outreach with The Turn-Around Agenda.




William Hansard

(PhD, ’15 BA, History) was appointed to the Dickinson Historic Preservation Commission in North Dakota. He earned certificates in public history and archival administration from UTA and is digital collections specialist at the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University.


Cecilia Lenzen

(BA, Journalism) was a 2022 summer reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. She has worked as a fellow at the Fort Worth Report and freelanced for The Dallas Morning NewsDallas ObserverDaily Dot, and other Texas news publications. At UTA, she served as editor-in-chief of The Shorthorn.


Elizabeth Mederos

(MSW, ’21 BSW) is a counselor with the Recovery Resource Council in Fort Worth.


Fill Us In

You never call. You don’t write. We miss you! Email us at and let us know what is keeping you so busy.

You Might Also Like

photo of UTA campus


This $12 million gift to help elevate UTA to the forefront of the growing resource and energy engineering (REE) field represents the largest single philanthropic investment in UT Arlington history.

photo of UTA students from 1989

Look Back

Spoiler alert! Extras from the upcoming season of Stranger Things wait for—

photo of Jacqueline Hernandez


“This scholarship made a life-changing impact on me,” Hernandez says. “Like a domino effect, the experiences I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy have all come from extended opportunities provided by generous donors to proceed with my studies.”

Summer 2023 Magazine

See More