EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A memorial for Dr. Diana Natalicio, the former UTEP President who passed away at the age of 82 on Friday, is now attracting scores of alumni and mourners on the campus she loved.
The memorial is set up on the grass at Centennial Plaza at UTEP, where Natalicio was president for 31 years.
Almost immediately after the announcement of her passing, former students began making their way to the greenspace in the heart of the campus to pay their respects to Natalicio, some laying flowers at the growing memorial.
Recent UTEP graduate Robert Alvidrez stopping by and left a rose. Alvidrez told KTSM 9 News he credits his degree to Natalicio, explaining that he met her before enrolling in UTEP while on campus when he was deciding if going to a four-year university was the right choice for him.
“She told me there was nothing impossible in life and to just do it, if you had that doubt in your mind to just do it, to just go through with it, and she inspired me to go to college to go into UTEP,” said Alvidrez.
Another alumni also leaving flowers on Saturday was Jackie Olivas who graduated back in 2010. Olivas says she remembers running into Natalicio on campus and how she would always say hello.
“I felt like I needed to come and pay my respects, she walked these grounds every day and I know that her spirit will still be here. And I just wanted to bring her some pretty flowers, something bright and happy like she always was,” Olivas shared.
Many of those stopping to pay their respects were emotional. Elsy Vanessa Sanchez, who is the consulate of El Salvador in El Paso.
Sanchez was moved to tears while speaking about Natalicio.
“I remember when I went here the first time I told her that my son wants to be a Miner and says you will do it, you can do it, just dream about that and you will do it. And that’s why I’m here because I know my son will be a miner and she will be with all of us,” said Sanchez.