On October 23, 2015 the 2015 Class of Distinguished Javelina Alumni were honored during the Javelina Homecoming celebration. The class consisted of six alumni that included Tom Best, Dr. Arnold Gonzales, Dr. Nancy Rabalais, Dr. Robert H. Vela, Jr., Edwin (Ed) Scott Dodds, and Dr. Mary L. Gonzalez.
Tom Best received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Texas A&I University in 1979 and his master’s degree in Business Administration from Texas A&M-Kingsville. Best is a member of the Advisory Board for the College of Business Administration at TAMUK and is one of the college’s Executives in Residence.
He is a member of the Javelina Club, a board member of the Texas A&M University-Kingsville Foundation and a member of the President’s Legacy Society. Tom and his wife, Glenda, established the Glenda & Tom Best Endowed Scholarship in the College of Business Administration.
Dr. Arnold Gonzales, a native of Corpus Christi, began his career as a teacher and has dedicated his life to public service, education and art. Gonzales graduated from Texas A&I in 1965 and went on to earn a master’s from Eastern Michigan in 1972 and a doctorate from The University of Michigan in 1975. In 1976, Gonzales was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 48-A in Nueces County.
While in office, Gonzales passed significant legislation related to education, the environment, health and women’s issues.
In 1996, Gonzales became the first Mexican American elected to an at-large seat on the Corpus Christi City Council, where he served until 2001.
In addition to his legacy of service, Gonzales is a gifted artist whose works have been on display across the country.
In 2014, Gonzales’ Mujeres a Traves del Tiempo mural, which depicts the women who helped shape South Texas, was unveiled in the Ballrooms of the Memorial Student Union Building on the A&M-Kingsville campus.
Dr. Robert H. Vela, Jr. earned all three of his degrees from Texas A&M-Kingsville, including his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology with a minor in Spanish; a master’s degree in counseling and guidance; and a doctorate in educational leadership.
Vela is in his second year as President of San Antonio College, having served as Vice President for Student and Academic Success and Vice President of Student Affairs during his tenure.
He is a National Certified Counselor by the National Board for Certified Counselors and a Licensed Professional Counselor and Supervisor by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors.
Edwin Scott Dodds is a 2003 graduate of Texas A&M University-Kingsville and currently serves as a National Scout/ Special Project Pro Personnel with the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks. For eight years, Dodds has assisted in scouting, evaluation and player development for the Seahawks, who were National Champions in 2014 and National Football Conference Champions in 2015. Dodds also works on special projects for the team’s general manager.
Prior to working for the Seahawks, Dodds was a scout for the Oakland Raiders. While earning his bachelor’s in marketing at A&M-Kingsville in 1994, Dodds also served as a student coach.
A dedicated Javelina, Dodds continues to give back to the university through participating in Javelina Athletics Player and Coach Development, by participating in Javelina Football Pro-Day.
Nationally recognized as one of the premier grant writers in her field, Dr. Mary L. Gonzalez has acquired more than $55 million in Support Services funding for A&M-Kingsville since 2001. Gonzalez serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Access at A&M-Kingsville.
Gonzalez oversees one of the largest number of TRIO and state-funded programs in the country with 11 competitive, federally funded major grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The programs fund initiatives that assist disadvantaged minority students that rely heavily on support services. Under Gonzalez’s leadership, her department serves 1,500 participants each year.
Gonzalez’s accomplishments reflect the university’s mission of access and opportunity for all. She earned two bachelor’s degrees from Texas A&I, a master’s from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 1990 and a doctorate degree from Texas A&M University in 1997.
“Javelina Alumni are doing amazing things across the country and around the world,” said Justin Muñoz, Director of Alumni Affairs.”
“These six men and women demonstrate the value of hard work and commitment, while always remaining dedicated to service. They exemplify the Javelina spirit and we are so proud of all they continue to accomplish,” Muñoz said.
In addition to honoring distinguished alumni, the Javelina Alumni Association also recognized two Texas A&M University-Kingsville faculty members.
Dr. Nestor Sherman, Regents Professor and Coordinator for the Exercise Pre-Physical Therapy Program who received the Distinguished Researcher Award and Dr. Mauro Castro, Professor of Chemistry, received the Distinguished Teaching Award. Castro is also an alumnus.