UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter named 30 El Pasoans to the first UTEP Fan Council on Friday.
The Fan Council members were picked by a selection committee from an initial pool of 148 applicants. The Fan Council will meet quarterly beginning on Monday, June 4.
“We’re really excited to form the first UTEP Fan Council,” Senter said. “The selection committee had a very difficult task getting the number down from 148 to 30. We have so many passionate fans, and their enthusiasm for the Miners and UTEP Athletics shone through during the application process. Fortunately we will be bringing on 10 new members to the council every year, so those that were close to being selected this year will get another opportunity to apply in 2019.”
The 30 members will serve one, two and three-year terms, to be determined in a random drawing at Monday’s meeting.
“We tasked the selection committee with assembling a council filled with diversity,” Senter said. “Our youngest member is 18, and our oldest are in their 80’s. We have long-time season ticket holders, new season ticket holders, students, former student-athletes, parents of student athletes, faculty and staff, military, donors, alumni and non-alumni. We look forward to hearing from everyone on things that we can do better, while at the same time giving them some insight on the inner workings of collegiate athletics. Every Person Makes a Difference! #EPMAD”
Bios follow on the members of UTEP’s first Fan Council.
2018-19 UTEP Athletics Fan Council
Jesica Rendon Arellano is the Principal of Gonzalo & Sofia Garcia Elementary School. She has 16 years of experience as an educator and also worked nearly seven years in the private sector as a Facilities/Environmental and Manufacturing Engineer. She is a graduate of Ysleta High School and earned a Bachelor and Masters of Science in Engineering from UTEP. She has been a UTEP fan for 35 years after participating in a summer UTEP camp as a middle school student. As a parent of a UTEP student and UTEP student-athlete, she is most excited about collaborating with other fans in the council to execute plans that will expand the passion of all divisions of UTEP Athletics to the “sleeping giant” of the El Paso community and beyond.
Norm Badillo has followed UTEP Athletics for as long as he can remember. His family follows all UTEP sports and they have been men’s basketball season ticket holders for 14 years. He graduated from UTEP with a degree in Finance in 1993, and is currently employed with Hunt Companies. He’s looking forward to being a part of the inaugural UTEP Fan Council and is excited about the new era of UTEP Athletics.
Rachael Blair graduated from Ysleta High School and continued her education at UTEP, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. She has been an educator for the Ysleta Independent School District for 18 years and is currently an Assistant Principal at Parkland Elementary. She ran one year of cross country for the Miners, her husband played football for the Miners and now her daughter proudly represents UTEP as part of the softball team. She is most excited about assisting in the rise of UTEP athletics. As Jim Senter said, “every person makes a difference!” and that is exactly what she intends to do as a representative of every UTEP fan and community member.
Jorge Cardenas graduated from Coronado High School in 1988, graduated from UTEP with a Bachelor of Social Work in 1995 and added his Master of Arts in 2001. He’s currently finishing up his doctoral program at UTEP in Educational Leadership and Foundations. He’s been a full-time UTEP employee under the Enrollment Services Department for 16 years. He’s served in different capacities and been a member of various committees on campus. What he’s most excited about with the Fan Council is to hopefully be a change agent, to assess, implement, evaluate and produce positive results that will enable UTEP Athletics to be taken to the next level.
Jose “Cookie” Carmona is the leading Corporate Account Manager for DmDickason, a Professional Employment Organization Outsourcing Corporation. He previously worked with the State of Texas to gain employment for individuals with disabilities. He graduated from Riverside High School, then attended UTEP where he received his bachelor’s degrees in Kinesiology and Psychology. He recently received his Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from UTEP. Cookie is honored to be married to the love of his life, Shauna Ziegler-Carmona. He and his wife share a deep passion for UTEP Miner Athletics (just ask anyone who knows them) and have had football season tickets for more than 10 years. He will contribute both his time and effort to help UTEP Athletics achieve the next level of community involvement.
Bryan Cleavenger attended Franklin High School. He is a business graduate of UTEP with a Masters of Business from the University of Phoenix. He is currently a Human Resources consultant at ADP. He previously held various staffing/recruiting roles in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. He is a second-year board director for the El Paso Society for Human Resources Management Chapter and holds certification in the field of human resources. He is a third generation Miner fan, attending UTEP basketball and football games ever since he was a child. His favorite hobbies are movies, travel, exercise, concerts, church, and being an uncle. He is excited to help bring a fresh new perspective to the fan council during this important time of change.
Bob Currey wasn’t born in El Paso, but, as they say, “I got here as quick as I could” (fourth grade). He graduated from Burges High School and received his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from UTEP in 1969. He spent 24 years in the Army, picking up a Master’s Degree from USC along the way, before returning to El Paso in 1994. He started working in the Center for Environmental Resource Management at UTEP that year, and became Assistant Vice President for Research in 2009. He and his wife Suzie hold season tickets for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball (their absolute favorite sport). He is excited to be selected for the Fan Council and hopes that it can 1) make a difference, 2) improve the fan experience, 3) fill the seats, and most importantly, 4) support the Miners.
Nathan Duran is a lifelong resident of El Paso. He was a Miner fan even before he was old enough to understand what sports were about. A 2008 graduate of Coronado High School, he went on to study at El Paso Community College. He is currently an Assistant Branch Manager for FirstLight Federal Credit Union. He believes UTEP fans are the best in the nation and is proud to be a part of it all. He looks forward to working with the UTEP Athletic Department to better the beloved university and Miner sports.
Bob Geske came to El Paso in 1964 and attended Texas Western College, where he was a member of the baseball and basketball teams. He graduated in 1970 and added a Masters degree in 1977. From 1971-87 he served as Director of Intramurals and Recreation at UTEP and helped start the women’s basketball and volleyball programs. He was a long-time middle and high school English teacher. Geske officiated high school football, basketball and volleyball games for over 40 years. Since 1971, he has served as the clock operator and scorekeeper at UTEP basketball home games and was also a clock operator for Miner football games from 1973-2008. A Miner fan for more than 50 years, Geske is honored to be a part of the Fan Council and is looking forward to giving back to UTEP.
Arturo Gonzalez, Sr.
Arturo Gonzalez, Sr. attended Bel Air High School. He served for four years in the U.S. Navy. After being discharged in July 1975, he enrolled at El Paso Community College part-time and began working at the Veterans Administration. He graduated from EPCC with an Associate in Arts in Education. Afterwards, he began working for the Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration at the El Paso Intelligence Center. After leaving the DEA, he worked for the State of Texas with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for 10 years before retiring in 2017. He believes the fan council can bring about positive changes to enhance the experience of students, student athletes, fans and the El Paso community in tandem with UTEP’s vision and growth on the national level in both academics and sports.
Simon Hernandez was born and raised in El Paso. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Communication with a Masters in Leadership from UTEP. He served for 13 years in the U.S. Army. His current position is Admissions and Scholarship Officer for the UTEP ROTC program, where he assists students pursuing a career as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.
Beth Lipson moved to El Paso from Amarillo in 1965 to attend Texas Western College. She graduated in 1969 with a Kinesiology degree. She has always been a sports enthusiast and found it easy to fall in love with TWC Sports. After she graduated from UTEP, she married and moved to Austin, Texas for her husband to attend law school. They returned to El Paso in 1972 and she taught physical education, as they became season ticket holders for football and basketball. After starting a family, she became a “professional” volunteer for many local civic organizations. She is excited to have the opportunity to share ideas with likeminded people who wish to return UTEP to its winning traditions in all sports, entertain fans at UTEP’s athletic venues, and continue to bring pride to the University and El Paso.
Born and raised in El Paso, Leah Lopez attended Texas Woman’s University and obtained her Bachelor of Social Work degree. She was the president of the Phi Alpha Honor Society and treasurer of the Child Abuse Prevention Society. She volunteered with various organizations and has been active in the areas of domestic violence awareness and child welfare. She was part of the first graduating advanced standing class for the Master of Social Work program at UTEP. She began working for Ysleta del Sur Pueblo in May of 2012. She continues to serve this community as the Supervisory Social Worker for the Sacred Connections Department. Lopez grew up in a UTEP family, attended many football games over the years and, as an adult, has traveled to almost every Texas stadium supporting the team in away games.
Julius Lowenberg graduated from Texas Western College in 1960. He started attending Texas Mines games at Kidd Field around 1945, selling cokes and peanuts in the stands. A long-time high school coach, he was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999. He started the football and track programs at Canutillo High School in 1960 and posted a combined 19 district titles in football, basketball and track & field. He also won two state cross country championships. The Canutillo football stadium was named after he and his wife Irene in 2006. Lowenberg started his own construction company in 1980 and is past president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. He is excited about helping revive past traditions and starting new ones as a member of the Fan Council.
Oscar Loy, Jr.
Oscar Loy, Jr. is Sun City born and raised and was brought up by his parents as a UTEP fan. He graduated from UTEP with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Accounting and, since graduating, has become a certified public accountant (CPA). He works for SBNG, a local CPA firm. He has been a die-hard UTEP fan and proponent for growth and progress in El Paso for as long as he can remember. He believes that being a part of the inaugural Fan Council will allow him to be a part of the historic transition at UTEP while giving back to the great university that helped get him to where he is today.
Although she was born in California, El Paso has been home to Alexzandra Lozano for 23 years. She remembers going to UTEP football games with her family when she was young, and attending UTEP basketball camps with her brothers. She graduated from Franklin High School and received her Bachelors degree in Biology at UTEP. Her first job out of college was with Enterprise Car Rental Company. She moved on to become Assistant Program Coordinator for University Medical Center Foundation and El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation. She was promoted after one year to Event Program Coordinator. She loves seeing an event start from scratch and watch it all come together, and feels blessed to have the opportunity to raise money that saves lives.
Roger Maier has been a resident of El Paso for 30 years and a UTEP fan the entire time. He grew up in suburban Chicago and earned a BS degree in Journalism at the University of Kansas and an MS degree in Communication at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. After a short stint as a reporter/anchor at a small market TV station in Illinois he moved to El Paso to work as a reporter at KVIA-TV before switching careers and joining the ranks of the federal government as a spokesman for U.S. Customs Service/U.S Customs and Border Protection. He is married to a UTEP graduate and has three children. He is excited to have the opportunity to help shape the UTEP fan experience in a way that will create lasting memories for El Paso families, UTEP alumni, and sports fans across the board.
Jaime Medina remembers his family gathering around the black and white TV watching the 1966 NCAA Championship as a kid. He graduated from Austin High School in 1972, received his AASET from EPCC in 1985 and his Bachelor’s degree in Science from UTEP in 1995. He added a Masters from NM State in 2007. He did a short stint in the Air Force as an electronic technician and retired from the Navy reserve. He has worked as a government contractor for more than 30 years. Presently he is a project engineer for TRAX INTL. and a volunteer on the supervisory committee at First Light Federal Credit Union. After all these years, he’s very excited to finally give back to his alma mater.
Originally from Harrisburg, Pa., Calvin Merritt first came to El Paso in July, 2000. He was stationed as a soldier at William Beaumont Army Medical Center from 2000-03. After he retired from the U.S. Army in 2008, he returned to the United States from Heidelberg, Germany and settled in Northeast El Paso. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from UTEP in 2014. A 23-year Army veteran, he is also a retired high school girls, professional and AAU basketball coach. Twenty-four of his high school players went on to play at the collegiate level, and four of his AAU players went on to play professionally in the WNBA and overseas. Since 2010, he has worked at William Beaumont Army Hospital as a Finance Technician in the Department of Military Human Resources.
Sara Navarro was born and raised in El Paso. She attended Hanks High School (class of 2006) and graduated from UTEP with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2011. She attended her first UTEP basketball game when she was one week old and has been supporting Miner Athletics ever since. While attending UTEP, she was part of the Miner Maniacs Student Organization, and later became Chairman of the Miner XIV which oversaw the Miner Maniacs. She proudly works as the Safety Director in her family’s business, Sun City Electric, which has been in existence for nearly 60 years. Navarro volunteers with the National Independent Electrical Contractors Association as a member of the Apprenticeship and Training Committee, which is an electrical apprenticeship program that is offered throughout the country.
Henry Sanchez has fond memories of going to UTEP games with family and friends and having a great time cheering on the Miners. He has tried to continue that same tradition with his four boys and daughter, who have been lifelong Miner fans as well. He attended Ysleta High School and UTEP for three years. He currently works as a Senior Wireless Manager for Wireless Advocates and has the privilege of working with men and women of the armed forces on Fort Bliss. His team provides cell phone service for military personnel so they can stay connected with family and friends. He looks forward to being part of a team that will help bring a renewed excitement to UTEP Athletics. He feels that bringing the families back to home games will elevate UTEP Athletics back to its glory days.
Paul Sanchez has lived in El Paso his whole life and has been a UTEP fan for the past 10 years. He received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UTEP in 2016. He attended many sporting events as an undergraduate, always supporting UTEP. Currently he is working for Villa Verde Inc. Civil Engineers and pursuing his master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. He is president of the UTEP Young Alumni Network, which connects recent graduates to the university and other alumni. He is looking forward to working with other fans and supporters to help improve UTEP.
After graduating from Franklin High School in 2007, Michael Scott joined the UTEP football team as a placekicker and was a part of the squad from 2007-11. He earned his BBA in Accounting in 2011 and his MBA in Finance in 2013. After concluding his eligibility at UTEP, he started working at the El Paso Refinery for Andeavor (formerly Western Refining and soon to be Marathon Petroleum), and currently serves as Project Controls Coordinator for the Turnaround Group. What excites him most about the Fan Council is the opportunity for a cross section of Miner Nation to have a voice, as well as serve as ambassadors on the Miners’ journey to success and excellence in the future.
A lifelong Miner fan, Analisa Cordova Silverstein is a graduate of Loretto Academy, and attained her B.B.A. in Marketing at UTEP in 2008. During her years at UTEP, she was an active officer in the SGA, Zeta Tau Alpha, and was President of the Student Alumni Association. She worked for Texas Senator Eliot Shapleigh and served as his Chief of Staff in 2010. Today she is the Account & Production Manager for her family business, Viva + Impulse Creative Co., a digital marketing agency. She volunteers with the Junior League of El Paso, Women’s Fund of El Paso and the Hispanic Chamber WBBC. She and her husband, Brandon, are basketball season ticket holders and sit in the same seats from their very first date. She is excited to share her experience in marketing, event planning, and community engagement.
Trephya Sumpter served 26 years as an active duty soldier. She retired in 2013 as a Chief Warrant Officer Four. Her work currently supports the soldiers by assisting in the testing of proposed new military systems and equipment. She met and married her husband in El Paso, and they have two children that were born and raised in the Sun City. Her daughter is currently a senior at Kansas State University. She has been an ardent UTEP fan for about 11 years. When her children reached the age where their friends began attending UTEP, she jumped in with both feet and became one of the university’s biggest fans. She attended the University of California at Berkeley and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Webster University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., which is composed of college-educated women dedicated to public service.
Miguel Venegas was born and raised in El Paso. He graduated from Captain John L. Chapin High School in 2014. He is currently an undergraduate working towards his degree in Mechanical Engineering at UTEP. He briefly worked as an electrical associate at Lowe’s and is currently pursuing an engineering internship. His father graduated from UTEP in the early 90’s, and would take Miguel to football and basketball games as a kid. In doing so he made Miguel into a UTEP sports fan, which later contributed to him opting to pursue his degree at UTEP. He’s excited about enhancing the UTEP experience by being on the fan council. As a student, he’s looking forward to addressing as well as fixing the concerns from the student’s perspective on UTEP Athletics.
Pamela Vigo is an art student at UTEP by day, die-hard Miner Maniac at night. She was born in El Paso, and moved around with her Army family until they finally returned for good in 2001. Her parents first took her to basketball games as an infant, because good parents take their newborns to the Haskins Center! Later on, she was introduced to football; there she picked up her infamous trash talking along the opponent sideline. She’s looking forward to being a voice for her fellow RV tailgaters on the Fan Council. She has tailgated UTEP football games since 2005. In fact, her first RV was delivered from the dealership to the Schuster parking lot. Since then, she has been part of a tradition of themed tailgates with her RV crew. When she’s not at UTEP, she is out at the barn riding her horse, Indy.
Samantha J. Watley
Samantha Watley has lived in El Paso her whole life and is a 2017 graduate of Coronado High School, where she was a member of the marching band. She is currently enrolled at UTEP, pursuing a dual major in Psychology and Sociology. Samantha brings a unique perspective to the fan council as not only its youngest member, but someone interested in being more supportive of UTEP’s athletic teams. She hopes to offer insight on how to make the gameday experience more enjoyable, to the point where people would want to continue going to the games.
A native El Pasoan, George Weidner attended Crockett Elementary, Austin High and graduated from Texas Western (UTEP) with the Class of 1963 after a Marine Corps enlistment. He retired after a 25-year partnership in the construction machinery industry followed by a 27-year career in real estate sales and appraisal careers. He has seen basketball games in Holiday Hall, Memorial Gym, El Paso County Coliseum and the Don Haskins Center. He has had basketball season tickets since the 1964-65 season. He has also watched football games in Kidd Field and the Sun Bowl. He is enthusiastic about the direction UTEP is heading in, and energized at the opportunity to be a participant in this new effort to improve and enrich the fan experience.
Susan Wiggs was born in San Diego, Calif. and her parents, like many El Pasoans, came to the city by way of the military when she was 10 years old. She didn’t become a Miner fan until she graduated from Burges High School in 1976 and started dating her husband. They were both students at UTEP. They got married and had two great sons, who have given her two beautiful grandkids with another on the way. They were Miner fans as they grew up attending football, basketball and soccer games. She is a retired Student Activities Manager from Irvin High School and loved teaching her students the importance of upholding school tradition while fusing it with new ideas. She found the Fan Council an opportunity to spread a renewed Miner zeal throughout this city while still maintaining Miner traditions.