Alumni Celebrate Islander Pride During 2020 Homecoming Honors Banquet

By Olivia Santos | Published: March 05, 2020

 Alumni Celebrate Islander Pride During 2020 Homecoming Honors Banquet

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Each year during the Homecoming season, a select class of change makers who’ve graced the Island campus are invited back to recognize their success in a big way. On Feb. 28, the National Islander Alumni Association and Islanders Athletics recognized four alumni honorees for their impact on society and their professions during the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Homecoming Honors Banquet.

“The heart of the Islander National Alumni Association beats more than 50,000 strong,” said Russell Wagner, Executive Director of the Islander Alumni Association. “The wonderful thing about our alumni is that each one of them has a different story about their time here. No matter how small the memory may have been when they made it, it’s now grown into a part of our University’s history – our storied past.”

Honorees arrived with family, friends, and colleagues by their side and poured into the University Center, Anchor Ballroom for a meet and greet mixer where those in attendance exchanged stories with fellow alumni, former professors, and past mentors. Many reflected on not only all that’s changed since they’ve earned their diploma, but also the vision for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s future.

Larry Mills ’77, businessman and philanthropist, was honored as the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus and currently serves as Vice President of Holt Cat, the largest Caterpillar distributor in the United States. For him, leaving a legacy of change and passion for future generations is most important.

“To watch this University change and grow has been spectacular,” said Mills. “The way I look at it is – this University has put the ‘legs’ in our legacy. It forges and shapes young people, and builds skills, and talent, and intellectual capital, so that they can go out and run the world and make it better.”

Brianna Brink ’15, ’17, the first and only alumna to earn American Volleyball Coaches All-American accolades and set the career record for most kills in the University’s history, was honored as the 2020 inductee to the Athletic Hall of Honor.

“Induction into the Hall of Honor is the loftiest recognition that Islanders Athletics can bestow upon an individual,” said Jon Palumbo, Director of Athletics. “It represents a standard of excellence, achievement and character that sets the bar for which our current and future student-athletes, coaches and staff will strive. I am so excited to welcome Brianna Brink into this elite club.”

For Brink, the honor brings back memories on the court and in the sand that she says she wouldn’t trade for the world.

“I want us to be known in the Southland as strong force, strong competitors,” said Brink. “When you’re done here, you can continue to go out and play for fun, but the competition and the bond you have as teammates is something you won’t find outside of the University.”

Additional 2020 recipients include:

  • Outstanding Alumnus: Christine Salch ’84 – Coastal Bend community volunteer and board member of the Estill Foundation and Jessie Frances Neal Foundation, both which created scholarships for A&M-Corpus Christi students.
  • Young Alumnus: Mayra Viviana Zamora ’10, ’14 – Local freelance artist, art educator for the Art Museum of South Texas, Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center, K Space Contemporary, and the Art Center of Corpus Christi.