TTUHSC Alumni Relations
HomeAlumni RelationsDistinguished Alumni Nominations

2015 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients


image of Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono

School of Medicine: Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award

Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono ('83)
Director, Defense Health Agency

Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono is director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA) at the Defense Health Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. She leads the joint, integrated Combat Support Agency providing medical services for all military branches to ensure a medically ready military and a prepared medical force in peacetime and wartime. Bono also oversees the administration of the TRICARE Health Plan, providing worldwide medical, dental and pharmacy programs to more than 9.4 million uniformed service members, retirees and their families. Also, DHA directs the execution of multiple joint shared services including health information technology, research and acquisition, education and training, public health, medical logistics, facility management, budget resource management, and contracting.

Before her appointment in October 2015 as vice admiral, Bono was a two-star rear admiral serving as director of the National Capital Region Medical Directorate and Chief of Medical Corps at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Bono is one of only 30 women to earn the flag officer rank; of those only 10 have earned two stars. She and her brother, Rear Admiral Anatolio B. “AB” Cruz III were the first and only siblings of Filipino descent to hold flag-officer ranks simultaneously. Bono has also been named by the Filipina Women’s Network as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina American Women in the United States (2009), recognizing her Naval leadership appointments.

Bono was commissioned in 1979 when she was accepted into medical school through the Navy’s Health Professions Scholarship program. She became the first woman to complete a general surgery residency at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth after finishing the Navy scholarship program. She is a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and has an Executive MBA.

Shortly after completing her residencies, Bono was deployed during Operation Desert Shield as the trauma surgeon to oversee Casualty Receiving at Fleet Hospital Five in Saudi Arabia, and as a Commanding Officer for the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, the Navy’s fourth largest hospital. The highly decorated Bono also served in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm and has held other notable positions including director of restorative care and director of medical services at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, and executive assistant to the Navy surgeon general. Her personal decorations include three Defense Superior Service Medals, four Legion of Merit Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals, and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals.


image of Brent Hester

School of Health Professions Distinguished Alumni: Department of Laboratory Sciences and Primary Care

Brent Hester, M.S., ('03 Molecular Pathology)
Forensic DNA Specialist, Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab

Brent Hester, M.P., has served Lubbock and the surrounding 76 counties as a forensic DNA specialist at the Texas Department of Public Safety. He is responsible for training new DNA analysts and assisting with the validation of new techniques and instrumentation. Hester began his career with DPS in 2004 as a forensic serologist/DNA analyst.

Hester says he has enjoyed watching the industry evolve and the technological advances that have been made to progress the industrial standard. During his tenure at the DPS, Hester has worked on more than 2,500 cases. He screens biological evidence and compares known genetic profiles to evidence obtained at the crime scene. His work has assisted in solving multiple cold cases in the Lubbock area.

Hester also has shared his knowledge and skills to educate the next generation of forensic scientists. He has trained 10 new DNA analysts in the past three years and lectures regularly for the molecular pathology master’s courses. Additionally, Hester has assisted in bettering the trainee experience in the program and updating the curriculum.


image of Carla Mahan

School of Health Professions Distinguished Alumni: Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

Carla Mahan, CCC-SLP, ('87 Speech and Hearing Sciences)
Retired, Lubbock Independent School District

Carla Mahan, CCC-SLP, began her career in speech pathology at Bryan Independent School District after receiving her B.A. from Sam Houston State University.  She worked as a special education teacher and speech language pathologist for four years before moving to Lubbock to pursue her M.S. degree from Texas Tech University School of Health Professions.  She began working for Lubbock Independent School District in 1987 and dedicated the remainder of her career there to providing therapy services to children with speech and language disorders.  In her 33 years as a speech language pathologist, Mahan has had the opportunity to work with students between the ages of 3 to 22 and with a wide range of disabilities.  Her greatest love has been working with students with autism.

In her last five years with LISD, she served as the lead speech-language pathologist and has initiated numerous projects to bridge the communication between teachers and the Speech-Language Pathologists across the LISD to improve overall language performance for all school age children. She also partnered with TTUHSC to help establish standardized scores specific to the South Plains area for children to receive access to support that would meet their communication needs.

Mahan is known by peers to be an advocate for all of her students and worked diligently to ensure each student received individualized services as guaranteed by state and federal law. She also helped lead the “Collaboration for Communication” project, which increased the awareness of speech-language pathologist's role in special education classrooms. Mahan has also worked endlessly to improve the language performance for all students in LISD, and her efforts have proven to be successful.

In addition to her notable 29-year career at LISD, Mahan has volunteered in her church as a youth leader and with other youth activities as well as opening her home to multiple foreign exchange students. She is an advocate for children and their well-being in every way possible as well as for the Lubbock community. 


image of Ryan Schmidt

School of Health Professions Distinguished Alumni: Clinic Administration and Rehabilitation Counseling

Maj. Ryan Schmidt, Ph.D., ('10 Clinical Practice Management)
Visiting Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina-Aiken

Maj. Ryan Schmidt, Ph.D., has a history of distinguished accomplishments in health care, military service and academia. He currently is a visiting assistant professor at the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Previously he was an independent higher education/curriculum design consultant while providing contractual adjunct support in the areas of health care administration, business management and operations, logistics, and supply chain management.

Schmidt also serves as a contractual mental health therapist and holds professional counselor licenses in South Carolina and Georgia. He is recognized by the National Board of Certified Counselors and is a Nationally Certified Counselor, a distinguished certification recognized by all 50 U.S. states. Additionally, Schmidt has more than 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force for which he has served both branches as an officer in Logistics Readiness and Medical Service Corps.

He currently serves as the chief Healthcare Administrator within the 476th Aeromedical Flight at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia. Schmidt has a number of publications and presentations to his credit. His research interests include health policy, integration, analytics and logistics as well as cost containment/access and chronic care conditions. Schmidt has also served on numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals as an editorial board member and as a reviewer.

Schmidt holds multiple academic degrees and certifications and serves on the Association for Healthcare Resources and Materials Management’s Academic Council for Healthcare Supply Chain Research.


Image of Jason Stark

School of Health Professions Distinguished Alumni -- Department of Rehabilitation Sciences

Jason Stark, O.T., ('99 Occupational Therapy)
President, Cole Health-Houston

Since 2011 Jason Stark, O.T., has served as president of Cole Health-Houston. He oversees the operations of three companies that provide outpatient adult and pediatric rehabilitation, outpatient applied behavior analysis, and home health services at 10 locations in northwest Houston. He has sole responsibility for the company’s $12 to $15 million budget, sales and marketing, and human resources. In addition, Stark trains and supervises a team of up to 11 managers for Cole Health-Houston as well as oversees the treatment of more than 2,050 patients per week.

As president, he believes in coaching and developing managers, through mentoring and education, to be their best selves in order to establish a positive, fun and healthy work environment for patients and employees to perform at their best.  Stark is also a certified Lean instructor and uses this philosophy to involve employees in decision making and change management in order to achieve operational excellence.

 Prior to joining Cole Health-Houston, Stark was the executive director for seven years of the Kids Developmental Clinic, serving in southwest, southeast and west Houston. During his tenure, Stark planned, organized and supervised the growth of the company from its inception. In addition, he participated in the ongoing program development, which consisted of animal-assisted therapy, early intervention programs, children’s health and wellness fairs, and social groups.

Stark’s peers describe him as a “dynamic and effective leader for not only the discipline of occupational therapy but also physical therapy services for children with disabilities.” He is a respected member of the health care community and has been a representative to the Texas Legislature and Health and Human Services to advise on rehabilitation services policy.

In addition to his work in rehabilitation health care services, Stark has been an influential leader within the Texas Occupational Therapy Association. He was elected earlier this year as vice president and has served in other leadership positions including development chair and district chair of the Gulf Coast East District.

Stark is an ordained deacon at his church and enjoys kayaking, running marathons, cycling and spending time with friends and family.


Image of Sue Bornstein

School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni

Sue Bornstein, M.D., FACP, ('92)
Executive Director, Texas Medical Home Initiative

Since 2008, Sue Bornstein, MD, has served as the executive director of the Texas Medical Home Initiative, a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization dedicated to implementing the patient-centered medical home model of care in Texas.

Under her leadership, in concert with her board of directors, she successfully created a process and supporting structure for the transition of seven adult primary care physician practices in north and east Texas into patient-centered medical homes and to achieve National Center for Quality Assurance recognition as such. The Texas Medical Home Initiative has conducted 4 successful statewide conferences on primary care and the medical home. Sue has been an advocate statewide for this new model of delivering primary health care to patients.

Previous to her position with TMHI, Bornstein, an internist, worked for the Boston-based consulting firm, Bard Group, where she led several projects that involved health system integration and medical staff governance reorganization.

Her medical career includes seven years with Baylor University Medical Center, where she held administrative roles in quality care, clinical ethics and palliative care. Bornstein also was an attending physician in the Department of Internal Medicine. She was the first female President of the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center.

Throughout her career, Bornstein has been active in professional organizations on the local, state and national level, including serving as governor of the American College of Physicians and as a delegate to the Texas Medical Association House of Delegates. 

She has served since 2009 on the Texas Department of State Health Services Medical Home Work Group and recently completed a term on the Meadows Policy Institute Physician Health-Behavioral Health Integration Networking Group, and TTUHSC’s Public Health Community Advisory Board.

Among her many honors and awards is the School of Medicine’s Gold Headed Cane, presented to the graduating student who best exemplifies those attributes that are most desirable in the competent and caring physician.


image of Tom Fogarty

School of Medicine Distinguished Alumni

Tom Fogarty, M.D., ('83, Resident; '80)
Retired, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Concentra Inc.

Tom Fogarty, M.D., is retired after serving for 26 years as the chief medical officer and executive vice president of Concentra Inc., the nation’s leading provider of health care. Through its affiliated clinicians, the company provides occupational medicine, urgent care, physical therapy, and wellness services from more than 300 medical centers in 40 states. In addition to these medical center locations, Concentra serves employers by providing a broad range of health services and operating more than 270 onsite medical facilities.

Fogarty earned a degree in industrial engineering and then attended medical school about five years later. As he was completing his degree, he met and joined two physicians who were providing occupational health to the Amarillo workforce. The trio launched the beginnings of Concentra in Amarillo. Their primary focus was to help employers meet health care needs ranging from employee safety to OSHA regulations.

In the mid-‘80s, Fogarty moved to the Metroplex to oversee a second clinic the trio opened in Garland; the company became a publicly traded company and later relocated headquarters to Addison and expanded its reach to include primary, preventive and environmental health and safety services.

According to an article in D Magazine, Concentra’s reach is so widespread that company officials estimate services are “only a 15-20 minute drive for about 40 percent of the U.S. workforce.”

Fogarty also was a founder and officer of Concentra Occupational Health Institute, designed to fill the void in occupational and preventive medicine research. The institute promotes occupational medical education, and since 2004, has sponsored national conferences and other educational events.

Concentra branched out again in 2007 to offer urgent care and health and wellness programs, which today has more than 900 affiliated primary care physicians and 600 physical therapists.


image of Valerie Kiper

School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award: Leadership in Health Care

Valerie Kiper, DNP, MSN, R.N., ('13 Executive Leadership)
Assistant Professor, TTUHSC School of Nursing

Valerie Kiper, DNP, MSN, R.N., has more than 36 years of health care leadership experience. She currently operates an independent health care consulting company. Her previous nursing leadership roles have included a lengthy tenure at Northwest Texas Healthcare System in Amarillo, Texas, serving as chief nursing officer and in various other leadership roles in the neonatal intensive care unit and maternal child nursing. In addition, Kiper was previously corporate director of Accreditation/Regulatory Services for Universal Health Services and within the scope of her position assisted the acute care division’s 25 facilities in meeting key quality, patient safety and regulatory standards.

Kiper previously served on the nursing faculty at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, teaching the undergraduate leadership course and leading development of the clinical nursing internship program. Currently, she serves on the Texas Panhandle Coalition for Nursing and is an advisory board member for nursing programs at Amarillo College and West Texas A&M University. She also is working to increase inter-professional education with students and hospital employees through a poverty simulation, scheduled for September 22.

She serves as the co-leader of the Panhandle region’s Texas Team supporting the Future of Nursing Action Coalition and to further ensure the Texas Panhandle is recognized and active in state affairs relative to the advancement of the nursing profession. Additionally, Kiper has been instrumental in organizing the first “Panhandle Great 25 Nurses” recognition event, scheduled for October 17. She is a member of TTUHSC’s Amarillo Area Advisory Board, supporting its proposed veterinary program, and is serving a second governor’s appointed term as an executive committee board member for the Texas Office of Prevention of Developmental Disabilities. Kiper was recently selected nationwide as one of 25 chief nursing officers to participate in the inaugural Health Leader’s Media CNO Exchange.

Her civic interests include serving in leadership roles for the March of Dimes as the 2016 March for Babies Chair and as the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” 2017 Chair. Kiper has a longstanding relationship with the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives, serving in key leadership positions including as president and president-elect. She will currently begin her second term as the state organization’s secretary. 


Image of Ruan Reast

School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award: Excellence in Clinical Care

Ruan Reast, MSN, FNP-BC, RN, ('93, '84)
Nurse Practitioner, TTUHSC School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine

Ruan Reast, MSN, FNP-BC, R.N., is the only full-time family nurse practitioner in the TTUHSC School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine. She was in the second graduating class of family nurse practitioners and has since used her advanced practice nursing skills through nursing practice, community engagement and involvement in professional organizations to advance nursing and improve population heath.

Patients, families, staff and colleagues frequently recognize her for excellence in clinical care and her willingness to mentor others. They say she takes the time to listen to patients, to engage them as partners in their own health care, and to provide appropriate education, counseling and needed referrals to reduce potential complications and enhance well-being.

Before joining the School of Medicine, Reast worked at the Larry Combest Community Health & Wellness Center, and its predecessor, the Wellness Center of TTUHSC School of Nursing.

Her nursing career began at a local minor emergency clinic, followed by positions in the emergency departments of St. Mary and Methodist hospitals (now both are part of Covenant Health System). During graduate school, Reast worked on medical malpractice defense team with McWhorter, Cobb and Johnson Law Firm.

After completing her master’s and earning certification as a family nurse practitioner, Reast worked at the Rural Health Clinic in Amherst, Texas, as the solo practitioner of the mobile rural health bus, providing care for those in underserved communities and in migrant worker camps. Previous to her hire at TTUHSC, Reast worked at the Rural Health Clinic, in her hometown of Littlefield, Texas, where she had the privilege of caring for many her family has known for years.

She has been recognized for her excellence in clinical care in multiple ways including receiving the 25th Anniversary Silver Star Award and the Outstanding Preceptor Award from the TTUHSC School of Nursing Graduate Program. She has been named as the Texas Nurse Association District 18 Nurse of the Year, the Covenant Medical Center Emergency Nurse of the Year, and was recognized by the TTUHSC School of Nursing for the Excellence in Writing Award. 


image of Carlos Alvarez

School of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumni Award: Research

Carlos Alvarez, Pharm.D., ('04)
TTUHSC School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Division of Clinical/Translational

Carlos Alvarez, PharmD, joined the School of Pharmacy faculty member in 2006 after completing a postgraduate pharmacy residency. He has distinguished himself as an exemplary educator and outstanding pharmacy practitioner but remained humble, always willing to help others.

In 2009, Alvarez was accepted to the highly competitive KL2 Clinical Scholars Training Program at UT Southwestern and his funding request for a Type 2 Diabetes research project was accepted on his first attempt, a rare occurrence. The model that emerged from his research project is now used as a tool for clinical scholar students at UT Southwestern. Also in 2009, he was recognized as a National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Scholar. He is one of the few practicing pharmacy faculty members in the school that has excelled so quickly, earning an array of accomplishments within 10 years of graduating.

Alvarez has come to be highly respected by students and peers at the School of Pharmacy at Dallas as he is willing to assist others, especially in regard to their aspirations in pharmacy. Humility is one of his strongest qualities and it shines through in his work as well as relationships with colleagues and students. Faculty, staff and students hold him in the highest regard and are often aspiring and working to be “like Carlos.” He is thought of as “The Best of the Best” and has a strong presence on the Dallas campus.

Alvarez’s research interests are in the safety and effectiveness of medications in patients with chronic diseases using large administrative and clinical databases. His has received funding from the NIH and other extramural sources and has published more than 25 medical articles.