Distinguished company

2008 gala recognizes 10 alumni for contributions to their professions and the University

Anita Foster knows that tragedy can strike at any moment. As Metroplex communications officer for the American Red Cross, she has responded to some of the country’s worst disasters, including the space shuttle Columbia explosion and Hurricanes Emily, Katrina and Rita.

Distinguished Alumni honorees

Distinguished Alumni honorees Trey Hillman ('91), Anita Foster ('89), Gloria Bender ('82, '88) and Jeff Smith ('88, '04).

“In two minutes you can find yourself on the curb because your house is on fire. In two minutes the fire department can knock on your door and say, ‘The floodwater is coming. Get in your boat now,’ ” she said during her acceptance remarks at the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Gala in October. “This has nothing to do with our degree of education. It has nothing to do with what neighborhood we live in. It’s just life, and it can change quickly.”

But two minutes can also bring positive developments.

Distinguished Alumni honorees

Distinguished Alumni honorees Ron Jensen ('73), Shirley Burchfield ('72, '75, '86), Virginia Lynch ('90) and Molly Harvey Bogen ('73).

The 1989 radio-TV graduate recalled the moment she met former UT Arlington Professor Carroll Hickey, who helped her become an award-winning public speaker, and the moment the American Red Cross offered her a job.

“We can reach out every single day and provide somebody two minutes of our time,” she said. “And it can change a life.”

Foster was one of 10 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.

James Spaniolo and Emily Hoad

UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo and Alumni Association Board of Directors President Emily Hoad ('99).

Alumna Gloria Bender, who received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, chaired the first Distinguished Alumni Gala that honored one graduate from each UT Arlington college and school. She served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1990-2000, holding every elected office.

“The No. 1 group I want to thank tonight is all of you,” she said to those attending. “We raised over $15,000 for scholarships for deserving students who are counting on getting a great public university education.”

Bender herself received a UT Arlington scholarship about 30 years ago. She went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in industrial engineering. She founded and co-owns TransSolutions, LLC, a transportation consulting firm, and credits her professors with shaping her career.

“You all wrote the book on a student-centered university,” she said. “You’ve been great friends, mentors and a lot of fun through all the years.”

Gala attendees

Standing: Cindi Cruz, Golden Belinfante, Chris Graves, Niqi Graves and Pat Cappelletti. Seated: Rick Cruz ('88), Mike West and Melissa Brandon.

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