Homecoming Honors Banquet Celebrates Outstanding Islander Achievements

Published: February 14, 2019

Homecoming Honors Banquet Celebrates Outstanding Islander Achievements

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – They represent Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with pride and distinction, and are looked upon as leaders, mentors, and trailblazers for future generations. On Feb. 8, the National Islander Alumni Association and Islanders Athletics partnered to honor eight distinguished Islander alumni and supporters for their post-graduation/service success.

“These are folks who aren’t just doing a great job professionally but are also doing good work in their community and continue to give back to the current students at A&M-Corpus Christi,” said Russell Wagner, Executive Director of the National Alumni Association. “These are well-rounded individuals with a genuine love for the Island University.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception in Anchor Ballroom along with an invitation for alumni and their guests to witness the “Lighting of the I,” being held just a few steps away in Anchor Plaza. The banquet also gave alumni and supporters time to reflect on memories made at A&M-Corpus Christi, along with how much campus has changed since they were last here.

Linda R. Benavides ’88, ’92, a community activist and volunteer, was honored as the 2019 Distinguished Alumnus. Benavides was born and raised in Corpus Christi and has seen first-hand the growth of the institution.

“This award was such a humbling surprise and I am just over the moon,” Benavides said. “Recently, we started a professorship chair in honor of my late husband and I’m so motivated and inspired under the leadership of Dr. Kelly Quintanilla. I see the impact A&M-Corpus Christi is making on this community.”

Ronnie Arrow, the first-head coach in Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men’s basketball history, was inducted into the 2019 Athletic Hall of Honor.

“It’s hard to believe that 21 years ago, we went from no sports whatsoever to Division I athletics,” said Arrow. “The first year, we had no games and only two players, and then seven years later, we were at the NCAA Tournament. When I was asked why I would come to a school with no basketball and no traditions, I would reply, ‘There’s an island there, and nobody else has that.’”

More about the 2019 recipients:

Distinguished Alumni Awards

Athletic Hall of Honor Inductions

  • Katie Evans-Sanchez ’04 – Played softball from 2001-2004. Currently holds nine career school records, including career bases, career hits, and extra base hits;
  • Ronnie Arrow – The first head coach in Islanders men’s basketball history, leading the Islanders for eight seasons, going 134-91 overall. Responsible for the team’s first NCAA tournament birth.

College Achievement Distinctions

  • Patrick Ayarzagoitia ’92, ’11 – College of Nursing and Health Sciences
  • Wayne Fellers ’94, ’96 – College of Education and Human Development
  • Anita Reed ’84 ’01 – College of Business
  • Daniel Wagner ’98 – College of Science and Engineering
  • Alisa Hope Wagner ’99 – College of Liberal Arts
At the end of the night, the National Islander Alumni Association announced its strategic program in increase interaction, engagement, and impact with Islander students in the form of an “Islander Forever Endowed Scholarship.” The Islander Alumni Association gave an initial gift of $100,000 and they encourage alumni everywhere to grow this fund with additional donations. The scholarship will be awarded for the first time in fall 2019 and will help two Islanders with a $2,500 scholarship to aid them in their future success.