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A&M-Texarkana Alumni Association to Host 2017 Eagle Roundup

Published: October 6, 2017

The Texas A&M University-Texarkana Alumni Association has announced honorees for the 2017 Eagle Roundup: A Community Celebration of Distinguished Alumni and Faculty set for Thursday, Oct. 12, at 6:30 p.m. on the Eagle Lawn at 7101 University Ave., Texarkana, Texas.

Mark Bledsoe (MSIS ‘89) of the United Way of Greater Texarkana and Nicole Raley (BAAS ‘04) of Farmers Bank & Trust are serving as co-chairs for the event. Both say this year’s celebration, which is set during A&M-Texarkana’s Homecoming Week, promises to be exciting and entertaining.

Distinguished alumni honorees include Francine Francis of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, LaTonya McElroy of Mayo Manufacturing, Inc., Rachael Schwartz-Potter of Farmers Bank & Trust and Ken Reese of Humco.

Laura Spencer of Texarkana, Texas, will be honored with the A&M-Texarkana Pioneer Award and Buddy Allen of Texarkana, Arkansas, will receive the Spirit of A&M-Texarkana Award. Distinguished faculty award recipient is Dr. Nurul Alam, professor of biology.

Francine Francis of Texarkana, Texas, serves as director of marketing and communications at CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System, the largest single employer in the four states region and one of the top 10 Catholic health systems in the nation. Born at St. Michael Hospital, Francis graduated from Arkansas High School and attended Texarkana College. She worked as a newspaper reporter prior to joining the CHRISTUS St. Michael team in 1983, where she provides leadership for marketing, communications and a myriad of other activities. She received a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with a concentration in organizational leadership from A&M-Texarkana in 2011 and has two sons, Chad Francis and Greg Francis, and four grandchildren, Dawson, Tyler, Bruce and Lauren. Active in the community, she enjoys working out with friends and cycling with a riding group.

LaTonya Darneish McElroy of Texarkana, Texas, serves as the director of human resources at Mayo Manufacturing, Inc. She obtained a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences from A&M-Texarkana in 2009, a Master of Business Administration from the university in 2014, the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) designation in 2010 and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation in 2015. McElroy began working in human resources in 2005 at the Red River Credit Union and went on to work as human resources coordinator at the Texarkana Independent School District. She is a 10-year member and past president of the Tri-State Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Chapter, a member and multiple scholarship recipient of SHRM’s national organization, a Junior Achievement volunteer, a member of the United Way Board of Directors and Campaign Cabinet, and a member of the A&M-Texarkana Alumni Association Board of Directors. She and her husband, Arthur, have five children – Kristian, Brandy, Kaylin, Kaléa and AJ.

Rachael Schwartz-Potter of Texarkana, Arkansas, is the vice president and marketing manager for Farmers Bank & Trust. Prior to joining the Farmers team in 2013, she served as development director at Harvest Texarkana Regional Food Bank, Inc. and marketing coordinator for Crocker’s Jewelers in Texarkana. Rachael received a Master of Business Administration from A&M-Texarkana in 2012 and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas in 2009. In 2016, she completed the Certified Financial Marketing Professional designation. Rachael graduated from Ashdown High School in 2005. While at the University of Arkansas, she served as Razorback majorette captain, Razorback Diamond Doll assistant captain and a nonprofit fundraising representative for the University of Arkansas National Phone Campaign. She currently serves as a board member for the Arkansas Bankers Association Emerging Leaders Section Council, Eagle Impact for A&M-Texarkana, and as secretary for the Partnership for the Pathway Board of Directors. She is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Texarkana, Women for A&M Texarkana, and the Leadership Texarkana Leadership Team. She met her husband Josh Potter at an Opportunities Inc. fundraiser in Texarkana, and they married in September of this year. She enjoys attending various events in Texarkana and Arkansas Razorback athletic events.

Ken Reese of Texarkana, Texas, president of the Humco division in Texarkana, graduated from A&M-Texarkana with a Bachelor of General Studies in 1994 and a Master of Education in Educational Administration in 2011. He began his career at Walmart, where he worked for 12 years, advancing to the role of vice president for operations. In 2008, he joined the Texarkana Independent School District as chief of operations and was eventually promoted to chief operating officer. Reese joined Humco in 2012, advancing to the position of president. He has served on the Texarkana College Board of Trustees and in a number of community leadership roles.

Laura Spencer graduated from Macedonia High School in 1966 and received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Psychology from A&M-Texarkana in 1977 and a Master of Science in Guidance Counseling from A&M-Texarkana in 1978. As a licensed social worker, she was employed by the Texas Department of Human Services, where she provided services to the elderly and disabled until her retirement in May 1999. An accomplished volunteer and member of Macedonia Baptist Church, she has served as a member of the Women for A&M-Texarkana, the A&M-Texarkana Alumni Association Board of Directors, Macedonia Alumni Board of Directors, Tri Schools Alumni Board of Directors, Libery-Eylau Community Educational Council and numerous other boards and organizations. Among her numerous recognitions are the Distinguished Alumni Award from Macedonia High School, Tri Schools Community Service Award, RSVP Community Service Award, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, Serenity Hospice Volunteer of the Year Award, State of Texas House of Representatives Community Service Award, Humana Volunteer Award, Zeta Phi Beta Tribute to African-American Women Award, H.E. Markham Community Service Award and Texarkana Women’s Conference Women of Distinction Community Service Award.

Buddy Allen has been a resident of Texarkana, Arkansas, since 1994. He is a graduate of Huntingdon College and The Executive Program, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, and was employed in the paper industry for 45 years where he had an opportunity to manage two "world class" paper manufacturing facilities including the Domtar, Ashdown mill. He was recognized by the international organization of the Paper Industry Management Association as Mill Manager of the Year in 2005. He also received the Paper Industry Management Excellence Award from the Center for Paper Business and Industry Standards. He has been very active in the Texarkana USA community, serving on many boards including an interim stint as president/CEO of the Texarkana Chamber of Commerce. He also chaired the Arkansas Alternative Energy Commission and the Arkansas Forestry and Paper Council at the state level. He currently serves on the A&M-Texarkana Foundation Board of Directors and is past chairman of the A&M-Texarkana Eagle Club. Buddy and his wife, Carolyn, are members of Williams United Methodist Church where he serves on the Finance Committee.

Dr. Nurul Alam has served on the faculty of Texas A&M University-Texarkana since 2006. As a professor of biology, Dr. Alam is a student-focused facilitator of learning and a mentor both in and outside of the classroom. Dr. Alam teaches Cell and Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Genetics, Seminar in Biology and Biology for Non-Majors. Because of his engaging teaching style, enrollment in these courses has grown significantly in the past decade, with fall 2017 showing record numbers of students enrolled in both Molecular Biology and Microbiology. Dr. Alam’s research interests include microbial source tracking, molecular mechanisms of human factor H and environmental monitoring. He also serves as the university’s pre-health adviser and director of the Joint Admissions Medical Program (JAMP).

Presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Awards began in 1982. The Distinguished Faculty Award was introduced in 1999.

“A&M-Texarkana has a rich tradition of honoring distinguished alumni and faculty for their accomplishments in their careers and in the community,” Bledsoe said. “We are delighted to announce these prominent recipients and invite the entire community to join us in celebrating their achievements.”

The Eagle Roundup will include an old-fashioned barbecue with all of the trimmings, Raley added.

“We’ll have amazing food, a great silent auction, fantastic music and an enjoyable program to recognize our distinguished alumni, faculty member and pioneer and spirit honorees,” she said. “It’s going to be a wonderful celebration.”

Texarkana party band Split Decision, featuring A&M-Texarkana alumnus and faculty member Selena Jefferies, will headline the event. Tickets are $35.

“Corporations, individuals and organizations sponsoring the 2017 Eagle Roundup provide much-needed funds for student scholarships at A&M-Texarkana,” Bledsoe said. “An investment in scholarships at A&M-Texarkana is an investment in the future of our community, our state and our region.”

Tickets are available online at http://bit.ly/TAMUTAdvancement or by contacting Mark Missildine in Alumni Relations at Mark.Missildine@tamut.edu or (903) 223-3153.

Francine Francis

Francine Francis

Latonya McElroy

LaTonya Darneish McElroy

Rachael Schwarts-Potter

Rachael Schwartz-Potter

Ken Reese

Ken Reese

Laura Spencer

Laura Spencer

Buddy Allen

Buddy Allen

Dr. Nurul Alam

Dr. Nurul Alam

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