UOG names winners of 2014 Distinguished Alumni Awards


MANGILAO, Guam—The University of Guam Office of Development and Alumni Affairs, together with the UOG Alumni Association, are proud to announce the names of the winners of the 2014 UOG Distinguished Alumni Awards!

In September, a call for nominations was made through the media, government agencies and the private sector. Awards were to be given to one person from each of the schools and colleges that make up the university: School of Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Education, School of Business and Public Administration, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and the College of Natural and Applied Sciences. This year, an additional category to honor a successful graduate who has served or is currently serving in the military was included. Requirements for nominees included the submission of a CV and letters of support.

Twenty individuals successfully qualified to be considered nominees. Judging criteria for the selection process consisted of the following: 1) Professional accomplishment in their respective field. 2) Does the candidate exhibit a high degree of character and integrity? 3) Do they demonstrate civic and university involvement, awareness and concern? and 4)Do the nominees’ achievements have local, national and/or international significance?

Judges included the deans of the schools and colleges, faculty members, representatives of the UOG alumni association, and at-large judges from the island community who are not UOG alumni. President Robert Underwood was forwarded the names of the individuals who were selected by each respective committee, and gave his final approval for the selection of the awardees. The names of the winners were announced on Nov. 15 at the 2014 UOG Alumni Reunion held at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa.

Bruce BestBruce Best
MS Biology, 1981
Energy and Remote Island Communication Consultant

“After completing my graduate degree in Marine Biology at the UOG Marine Lab, I began working as a research associate with the PEACESAT/Telecommunication and Distance Education Operation (TADEO) at UOG. The grant writing skills I developed at UOG and my work experience in telecommunication and alternate energy created a unique skill set that set the framework for my many remote islands projects over the next 30 years.

My military background as a navy corpsman fueled an interest in tele-health operations for the remote islands of the Western Pacific. Merging the last 35 years of exposure to cultural diversity and work experience allowed me to develop sustainable health and educational solutions for the remote islands in the FSM, RMI and ROP. Many of the solar-powered radios being used throughout the remote islands were installed under my direction and funded by grants through or supported by the UOG PEACESAT/TADEO office where we tried to maintain a high level of service to the region and make a difference in the lives of thousands of Pacific Islanders.

“Today, I remain actively involved with a variety of tele-health groups to improve health care options in the western Pacific. My UOG education provided me with the credibility and knowledge to continue to service the region through training and implementing sustainable health, energy and remote communication infrastructure throughout Micronesia. I would not have been able to participate in all these projects as a subject matter expert with cultural reference without the education I received at UOG.”

Dr. Thomas JDr. Thomas J. Brislin. Brislin
BA English Secondary Education, 1968
Associate Dean, Arts and Humanities, University of Hawaii at Manoa

“The value of my College/University of Guam education crystallized for me when I was confined to a small room for eight hours in 1972 to write my PhD exams. I found in answering the myriad questions from learned scholars in Communication, Sociology, Film, and Psychology, that I was drawing heavily from the knowledge I gained at COG/UOG. From 1964-68, it offered a true Liberal Arts education. It was smaller, and what divisions there might have been between academic areas was porous. We took courses across the broad spectrum of “ologies.” Students—and faculty—mixed their interests freely, whether they looked forward to a career in business, law, nursing, education, fine arts or sciences. We absorbed from each other. We left with a tremendous worldview from such a small Island; with a continuing and consuming intellectual curiosity from such a small school with such large ideas. I aced those exams. COG/UOG taught us we could make a difference. And we did.”

Col. John M. ChiuCol. John M. Chiu (retired)
BBA Accounting, 1983
University of Guam, Army ROTC

“Unquestionably, my years at the University of Guam were the formative years of my early adulthood. While I originally intended to go to the mainland to study, imperatives of our family business kept me [in] Guam. Little did I know that the decision to attend the University of Guam would eventually take my life in a wholly unanticipated direction that would alter the course of the rest of my life.

“Like most college students, I grappled with what I wanted to do in life including career choices and goals. The answer came during one of Dr. Don Soper’s evening marketing classes when the officer in charge of UOG’s ROTC program spoke to us about a career in the Army. The next day I went to see Lt. Col. David Swanson and the first day of the rest of my life as a soldier and officer was set in motion.

“Listening to LTC Swanson speak about an Army career gave me clarity, focus, and direction that I had lacked until that point. With his guidance and mentorship, I excelled in my military science studies, and graduated as the No. 1 cadet. My time at the University of Guam directly and indirectly gave me three building blocks for my career and my life. My ROTC training provided an unshakable foundation in military leadership, discipline, and values. The School of Business provided me with a Bachelor of Arts degree. From my family business, I was able to gain practical experience in leading people, planning and budgeting, and gain an appreciation for the day to day pressures of running a business. The skills, values, and strengths I acquired during my studies at UOG were the foundation to my successes and achievements in the military and throughout my life.”

Dr. Lourdes Palomo KlitzkieDr. Lourdes Palomo Klitzkie
BA Elementary Education, 1970
Professor Emeritus, Society of Emeritus Professors and Related Scholars

“The University of Guam has given me the opportunity for a lifelong career in special education. Getting a bachelor’s degree in special education in 1970 at the College of Education equipped me with the knowledge, skills and competencies which enabled me to pursue a master’s degree in special education at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1974.
“In 1976, Dr. Michael Caldwell, special education chair, offered me a one-year position at the university to supervise student teachers. In 1977, Dr. Caldwell sent me to Utah State University under special education federal grant money to work on my doctorate degree in special education. I returned to the university in 1979 and began my teaching career in special education as an assistant professor, which led to the rank of full professor until my retirement in 1998. Not long after that I was admitted to the Society of Emeritus Professors and Retired Scholars. I continue to serve the university in three endeavors: teaching, research, and public service.
“I can safely conclude that as a student at UOG, I was educated to foster the growth and development of young children intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically. As a professor, I encouraged young minds to think. As an emeritus professor, I will continue to serve the University of Guam – the Natural Choice.”

Michael PexaMichael Pexa
Master’s in Business Administration, 1978
Founder & CEO, Asia Pacific Financial Management Group

“I came to Guam in the early ’70s, eager to start teaching for the Guam Public School System. After several years of teaching, my desire to pursue a career in investments led me back to Seattle, where I worked as a financial advisor for a Seattle based firm. My love for Guam inspired me to convince my branch manager to open a Guam branch. To my surprise and joy, he agreed and 30 years later, I’m still here.

“As a financial advisor and business owner, I believe that I needed to improve my business skills. I decided to go back to school to pursue my master’s in Business Administration. The obvious choice was the University of Guam, and I graduated in 1978. My education from UOG pushed my business knowledge to the next level and gave me the opportunity to expand my network with fellow alumni. Today, the Triton tradition continues to flourish at Asia Pacific Financial. Several of our employees are UOG alumni. We also take great pride in our annual internship program where we’ve partnered with UOG’s School of Business to provide students internships. As a final testament to our faith in UOG’s talent, we are proud to say that our most recent student intern remained with us after she graduated and has become a full time employee. I’ve come a long way, and I couldn’t have gotten this far without UOG.”

Reina SanchezReina Sanchez
BSW Social Work, 1990,
Social Services Supervisor I, Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center

“The University of Guam has always been a part of my life. My father, Vicente Q. Sanchez, worked at UOG in the ’80s and naturally I attended and received my bachelor and master degrees there. In between the undergraduate and graduate programs I also participated in many professional development courses. So I can say I am a lifelong student of UOG. It is through UOG that I have met many people—students and professors who have encouraged and supported me. Without them I don’t think I would be where I am now. Thank you again for this opportunity.” (UOG)

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