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UTA honors six distinguished alumni at 2015 awards gala

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 • Media Contact: Herb Booth

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The University of Texas at Arlington will honor five exemplary alumni and one outstanding honorary alumnus for their professional achievements, community engagement and loyalty to their alma mater at the 50th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The 2015 Distinguished Alumni honorees are Sohrab Charna, Tamara Hext Hilliard, Raj Malik, and Alan and Bonnie Petsche. Arnold Petsche, a longtime UTA supporter and father of Alan, also will be recognized during the gala as a Distinguished Honorary Alumnus.

A highlight of Homecoming week, the Distinguished Alumni Awards will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, in the E.H. Hereford University Center Bluebonnet Ballroom. Tickets and table sponsorships at several levels are available at For more information, please contact Julie Barfield at 817-272-0040 or

Previous honorees include HKS chairman Ralph Hawkins, actor Lou Diamond Phillips, former NFL linebacker Cliff Odom and Houston Astros bench coach Trey Hillman.

Among the 2015 honorees:

  • Sohrab Charna is the founder and principal of architecture firm Designworx and also manages a diverse portfolio of projects ranging from research facilities to mixed-use business parks. Charna earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1976. Recently he has ventured into the tech sector as the investor/co-founder of Hello Nurse, an Irvine company that revolutionizes senior patient care.
  • Tamara Hext Hilliard is the founder, CEO and owner of Tay’s Gourmet LLC, a growing gourmet granola company based in Texas. She earned her bachelor’s degree in radio and television broadcasting in 1986 after winning the 1984 Miss Texas title. Through Tay’s Gourmet, Ms. Hilliard has partnered with the Children’s Hunger Fund, donating both food and money.
  • Raj Malik is president and founder of BioWorld Merchandising, Inc., a leading design and distribution company of licensed and private label apparel and accessories with a focus on pop culture and youth brands. He earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from UTA in 1993. Malik has transformed what began as a one-man operation into a multinational organization with more than 250 employees.
  • Alan Petsche is the owner of Aaron Ave Records and the Candlelite Inn in Arlington and is the retired chief operating officer for A.E. Petsche Co., an Arlington aerospace distribution firm founded by his father in 1966. An ardent supporter of Arlington, he earned his Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in 1980.
  • Bonnie Petsche is principal and vice president of Petsche Commercial Properties in Arlington. She earned her Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in 1986. A devoted community volunteer, Bonnie Petsche serves on a number of area boards, including the Board of Trustees for Cook Children’s Medical Center and Cook Children’s Health Care System. 

    The Petsches, who are receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award as a couple, donated $1 million in 2011 to support construction of UTA’s College Park Center. The basketball court of the state-of-the-art special events venue is named in their honor.
  • Arnold E. Petsche founded the A.E. Petsche Co. in 1966 to meet the aerospace industry’s need for streamlined production and distribution of high-performance wire and cable. He donated $1 million to UTA in 2012 to establish the Arnold E. Petsche Center for Automotive Engineering at UTA. The center promotes engineering education, innovation, and entrepreneurship, especially through student participation in the College of Engineering’s world-renowned Formula Society of Automotive Engineers program.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as a “Best for Vets” college by Military Times magazine. Visit to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at