2019 Outstanding Alumni Announced
Seven alumni of the college will be recognized for their professional achievements and college-wide impact at the 2019 Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony. The ceremony will be held on Friday, November 1 at the Hilton College Station and Conference Center.
This year’s honorees are Matt Timmons, Anthony Donato, Tom Glenn, Olga Perez-Garcia Gentry and Kendra L. Williams-Diehm. The early career honorees are Josh Swift and Christie Whitbeck.
Matt Timmons ‘00
Assistant Vice President, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, TX
Timmons graduated in December 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in health. He started his career at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston as a front-line employee and began to build strong working relationships. Since then, he has climbed the ranks to his current role as Assistant Vice President where he oversees a children’s hospital and four children’s subspecialty care clinic locations. Timmons is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and has dedicated his professional and personal service to improving the health, education and well-being of children. Timmons also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Fort Bend County YMCA, serving his community through volunteerism.
Anthony Donato, Ph.D. ‘04
Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Donato received his doctorate in kinesiology in 2004. After completing post-doctoral fellowships, he joined the faculty at the University of Utah in 2010 as an assistant professor of Internal Medicine. He is currently associate professor in the department and serves as director of the Translational Vascular Physiology Lab. The work of his lab is to better understand how best to reduce cardiovascular disease risk and progression in older adults. Donato’s primary area of research is vascular aging, focusing on interventions directed toward reversing the detrimental effects of aging on blood vessel function. His research has transformed the field of vascular physiology by identifying aging-related cellular events that result in imparied blood vessel function in the elderly.
Olga Perez-Garcia Gentry ‘86
Principal, St. Augustine High School – Diocese of Laredo, Laredo, TX
Gentry graduated with a bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction, with an early childhood endorsement and reading specialization, in 1986. After serving in elementary schools in Laredo, she became the principal of St. Augustine High School – Diocese of Laredo in 2009. Her leadership skills have contributed to a staff of caring, certified and competent teachers and her campus-wide initiatives have helped students succeed in the ACT, SAT and TSI tests. Gentry currently serves as a mentor to new administrators and guides personnel in the areas of leadership, curriculum and instruction. As a Texas A&M graduate, she exemplifies the mission of the university by being an advocate to increase student interest and enrollment. She is also a member of the Laredo A&M and Aggie Moms Clubs.
Tom Glenn ‘73, ‘77
Consultant, Retired Leander ISD Superintendent, American Constructors, Liberty Hill, TX
Glenn received both his bachelor’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 1973, followed by his master’s in educational administration in 1977. After serving in various roles in school districts in College Station and Leander, Glenn was named superintendent at Leander ISD in 1987, retiring 20 years later. Glenn’s lasting legacies in Leander include his efforts championing continuous improvement principles in public education. He helped the district develop a reputation for excellence through record-setting student population growth. Glenn also continually improved state and national test scores and rankings as well as the importance of athletics and fine arts in all schools. A testament to his impact at Leander ISD, a high school named in Glenn’s honor opened in 2016.
Kendra L. Williams-Diehm, Ph.D. ‘99, ‘02, ‘06
Associate Professor and Director, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Williams-Diehm received her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and both her master’s and doctorate in educational psychology from Texas A&M. She is currently director of the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment and associate professor of special education at the University of Oklahoma. She is actively involved in teaching, supporting practicum for teacher preparation, educational research and service to the university and community, as well as providing support for school districts in Oklahoma and Texas. Williams-Diehm recently began a four-year college experience program for students with an intellectual disability called Sooner Works.
Lt. Cmdr. Josh Swift, Ph.D. ‘10
Program Officer, Office of Naval Research, Warfighter Performance Department
Swift graduated with a doctorate in exercise physiology in 2010. That same year, he was awarded the Association of Former Students Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research. He is currently serving as Program Officer at the Office of Naval Research, providing leadership, strategic vision and oversight. During his military career, Swift has uniquely contributed to injury prevention, mitigation of injury and improving performance at high altitudes. He is also considered an ambassador of goodwill for Navy Research, serving as a mentor for junior researchers, students, technologists and civilian employees. Swift’s military awards include the Defense Meritorious Service, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation, and Joint Service Achievement Medals.
Christie Whitbeck, Ph.D. ‘11
Superintendent of Schools, Bryan Independent School District, Bryan, TX
Whitbeck received her doctorate in public school administration and superintendent certification in 2011. After serving in various leadership roles across the state, Whitbeck joined Bryan ISD as superintendent in 2017. She has overseen significant gains in academic achievement at all levels across the school district, the establishment of multiple partnerships with Texas A&M including aggieTERM and the opening of two Texas A&M Reading Clinics. She has instituted comprehensive and widespread transportation improvements to assist with safety in Bryan ISD as well as initiatives like the district and community-wide “Essential Eight” character education initiative. She seeks to hear and learn from her constituents to capitalize on ways to strengthen programs and practices for the betterment of the district.
In 2005, the Gibson’s began supporting students interested in becoming special education teachers. Their daughter, Sharon, graduated from the college with a certificate in special education and Glenn loved to come visit her in Aggieland.
Dr. Beverly Irby is one of 13 faculty members recently named as Regents Professors and Regents Fellows.
After hearing about Aggie ACHIEVE on Twitter, Aggie Linebacker, Keeath Magee II, wanted to invite the students to tour Texas A&M’s football training facilities.
Health education is not one size fits all, especially in rural areas where accessing healthcare services can be a challenge.
Retired Highland Park ISD Superintendent Cathy Bryce received one of the most coveted awards amongst Texas educators at this year’s John R. Hoyle Memorial Administrative Leadership Institute.
Finding effective ways to teach children with autism has long been a passion for Dr. Julie Thompson, assistant professor of special education.
Aaron Cranford ’13 credits his Texas A&M scuba diving instructors with teaching him everything he knows about scuba diving. On April 23, 2017, this diving knowledge would help him save four people’s lives in Okinawa, Japan.
Before Dr. Deanna Kennedy was an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, she taught a gymnastics course at Texas A&M. From this class, she sustained an injury that would change the course of her life forever.
Dr. Timothy Lightfoot, professor of kinesiology in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, will hold the Debbie and Mike Hilliard ’73 Huffines Institute Chair.
While DHH students face many of the same struggles in school, especially in science, there are some challenges that impact DHH students more. One of those challenges is language deficiencies and delays. More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents and nearly 75% of those parents never learn to sign.