Islanders Memorialize Nine Honorees at Islander Tribute

By Richard Guerrero | Published: April 08, 2021

Islanders Memorialize Nine Honorees at Islander Tribute

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In a somber yet moving ceremony, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi memorialized nine Islanders lost in 2019, 2020, and 2021 as part of its annual Islander Tribute. Family members were joined by Islander faculty, staff, and students in the two-part ceremony, which began in Anchor Ballroom in University Center before concluding in the memorial area of Lee Plaza. The ceremony was streamed on Facebook Live on the page of the Division of Student Engagement and Success for the benefit of family and friends who could not attend in person.  

In his welcome remarks, Dr. Bill Kibler, interim vice president for Student Engagement and Success, said this year’s Islander Tribute included Islanders lost in 2019 after the 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We come together tonight as a campus community, and as an Islander family, to honor the students who left us too soon,” Kibler said. “Since 2003, we have honored 82 students, including our nine students tonight.” 

The students honored at this year’s tribute are as follows:

 (From 2019-20)
Roger Bagley, College of Science & Engineering
Stephen Cumberledge, College of Education & Human Development
April Gomez, College of Nursing & Health Sciences
Christian Lohner, College of Business
Brandon Rios, College of Science & Engineering
(From 2020-21)
Taylor Magallañez, College of Nursing & Health Sciences
Mark McKay, College of Science & Engineering
Kassandra Tamez, College of Science & Engineering
William Turner, University College 

In her tribute, Associate Dean of Students Angela Walker shared a detail about each Islander’s life.

“We remember them as: a son, a father, a mother, a brother, a daughter, a sister, a loyal friend and always … an Islander,” Walker told the audience.

Before the procession to Lee Plaza from the University Center, Ryutaro Young ’21, vice president of the Student Government Association, recited the anonymous poem “We Will Remember.” At the memorial site, departed students were commemorated by SGA members as they recited “Always an Islander” by alumnus Ed Gorecki '05, '07, former SGA president during the 2003-04 school year, and celebrated with a rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” which was sung by music major Jessica Valdez ’23.

During the ceremony, families were presented with a glass memento to honor their loved one. Also, each honoree was memorialized with an engraved brick paver in Lee Plaza.  

The family of honoree Taylor Magallañez recalled a bright, academically driven mother of a young son who was looking forward to graduation. Taylor passed away early on the morning of Jan. 7, 2021.

“Taylor was kind and had a sweet heart,” sister Adriana Magallañez said. “Taylor was also very ambitious – she was a Tigerette at Carroll High School; she was also a loving mother to her baby boy Damien.”    

Judy Brown, Taylor’s mother, said she made friends easily and was a superb student.

“She was an A honor roll student all through high school and graduated with honors – she got President Barack Obama’s Outstanding Achievement Award when she was an elementary school student at Club Estates Elementary,” Brown said. “At the Island University, she was a nursing major who was getting ready to graduate this summer.”

To view the Anchor Ballroom portion of Islander Tribute, visit https://fb.watch/4JItX2WkE-/; to view the Lee Plaza portion of the ceremony, visit https://fb.watch/4JIzzsohWI/.