Distinguished alumni announced - Brownsville Herald: Valley

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Posted: Friday, August 12, 2011 12:00 am

A novelist, a Rio Grande Valley school superintendent and a federal agent who died in the line of duty will be honored this fall at the University’s Homecoming.

Award-winning author Oscar Casares began his college education at Texas Southmost College, earning an associate degree. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in advertising from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa in 2001.

Author of two notable books, he has earned fellowships form the National Endowment for the Arts, the Copernicus Society of America and the Texas Institute of Letters. BOOK Magazine named him one of “Ten Writers to Watch in 2003” and Texas Monthly has called him “Texas’ most intriguing young storyteller.” Earlier this year he was appointed to lead the new Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Gonzalo Salazar earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Over the last 15 years his exceptional leadership has propelled him from classroom teacher to assistant principal to principal to superintendent of Los Fresnos ISD. And last year he led his school board to be recognized as the Texas School Board of the Year by the Texas Association of School Administrators.

The late Jaime J. Zapata will receive the Alumni Service Award which recognizes graduates or former students for meritorious service to their university, community, state or nation. A graduate of the class of 2005, Zapata earned a bachelor’s degree from UTB-TSC in criminal justice. He was a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE special agent when his life was cut short in the line of duty earlier this year at the very young age of 32.

“We are proud of all of our exceptional alumni and the outstanding contributions they have made in their fields,” said UTB-TSC President Juliet V. García. “Together, they have set a very high bar of achievement and serve as inspiring role models for our students.”

The recipients and their families will be honored on Nov. 5. For information about Homecoming activities, please go www.utb.edu/homecoming