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Alumni Awards

In 1999, the Office of Alumni Relations began recognizing our alumni to honor their accomplishments and contributions and to serve as an inspiration to their colleagues and future alumni. Awards are presented to those alumni who have achieved a high level of success in their chosen fields or whose efforts have made a positive impact on community or humanity, bringing distinction to themselves and to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. We encourage alumni, faculty, staff and friends to nominate deserving alumni for these awards.


2017 Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) introduced the Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award In 2015. This is the highest honor bestowed by the university, recognizing and honoring alumni who have made significant contributions to the health care profession. Eligiblity for this award is based on individuals that have earned a degree or completed a residency at TTUHSC, as well as demonstrated service to the community, profession and this institution. The awardee will be a person that faculty, staff, students and alumni take pride in and are inspired by his/her accomplishments and endeavors.

Nancy Neal

Nancy Neal, RN, '85

Former Regent, Texas Tech University System and Texas State University System
Former Trustee, Lubbock Independent School District

Even as she graduated from Emanuel Hospital School of Nursing in Portland, Oregon, Nancy Neal, BSN, RN, realized that the Bachelor of Science in Nursing was going to be the benchmark in nursing. Neal and her husband, Thomas Neal, M.D., moved to Lubbock, Texas, in 1979 for his medical practice. Soon afterward,Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center opened its new nursing school; in 1981, Neal set out for her degree and graduated in 1985 with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

The following spring, she was elected to the Lubbock Independent School District Board of Trustees -- not a traditional role for nurses, but a timely one that proved to be a significant milestone in her civic and volunteer roles. Neal later served as president of the board. She then served as a school nurse at Wheatley Elementary for three years and put her public health education to good use. More


2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

T. Celeste Napier

T. Celeste Napier, Ph.D., '82

T. Celeste Napier, Ph.D., recalls discovering her career path when learning about ‘psychopharmacology’ in a high school psychology class. Her dissertation research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) pioneered the effects of opioids on neuronal activity within brain regions now known to regulate reward-motivated behavior. Her scientific research continues to focus on how the brain changes during drug and behavioral addictions. More

School of Health Professions

Matt Barker

Matt Barker, Au.D., '04

Matt Barker, Au.D., attended Texas State University, then Southwest Texas State University. He worked for the college as a delivery driver and delivered university packages to a variety of locations, including the speech and hearing clinic. This experience piqued his interest, and he transferred to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) and earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders. More

Ryan Brewster

Ryan Brewster, MSHA, ’17

Ryan Brewster, DDS, is a long-time resident of Amarillo, Texas. While attending dental school, Brewster served as the class representative for the American Student Dental Association. He waw a voting member at the delegation conferences that supported student advocacy toward curriculum and standards in practices, as well as contributed to improvements to the National Board Examination and licensure in the state of Texas. More 

Tommy Higgins

Tommy Higgins, MSRC, '06

Tommy Higgins, MRC, CRC, is a vocational rehabilitation manager for the Texas Workforce Commission. He manages the vocational rehabilitation services for three Workforce Solutions Board Areas, West Central Texas (Abilene), the Concho Valley (San Angelo) and the Permian Basin (Midland/Odessa). Higgins has served on the local West Central Texas Workforce Board since 2007. More  

Mindy Hoffman

Mindy Hoffman, MSAT, '06

Mindy Hoffman, MSAT, is entering her 13th year at Kansas State University (K-State) and her 12th working with the K-State football program. In her first year at K-State, she served as the assistant athletic trainer for women’s basketball and cheer. Promoted to associate athletic trainer in 2013, Hoffman also serves as the athletic trainer for the men’s and women’s golf programs in addition to footbal. More

Ely Perea

Ely Perea, MSMP, CLS, '18, '07

Ely Perea, MSMP, BS, was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. He received his bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science in 2007 and his master’s degree in molecular pathology in 2008 from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). Perea then earned his MBA in 2016 from Texas Tech University. More 

School of Medicine

Tim Benton

Tim Benton, M.D., '94

Timothy Benton, M.D., FAAFP, a Dallas, Texas, native and now a West Texan for more than 20 years, has served for six years as regional chair and residency program director in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at the Permian Basin (TTUHSC). In that time, the department has tripled in size to become one of the largest family medicine residency programs in Texas. More   

John Griswold

John Griswold, M.D., Resident, '86

Following a general surgery residency at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, John A. Griswold, M.D., continued training with a two-year burn surgery fellowship at the University of Washington. After a brief stint as faculty at the University of Mississippi College of Medicine in the Division of Burns, Trauma and Critical Care, Griswold returned to TTUHSC in January 1992. He took on the responsibilities of establishing the Level 1 Trauma Center at UMC, a teaching hospital for TTUHSC, accomplished in fall 1992, and elevating the burn program to reach regional burn center status, which was accomplished in spring 1993.  More    

Amy Thompson

Amy Thompson, M.D., '04

Throughout high school, as Amy Thompson, M.D., ran the basketball courts in Plainview, Texas, she always knew medicine was in her future. Growing up in West Texas, Thompson had no intention of becoming a Red Raider; she wanted to see the world. But the Lord had other plans for her as she enrolled at Texas Tech University (TTU) and met her husband, Dusty. Faith, family and a legacy drove Thompson to apply to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine, where she became a pediatrician. More

School of Nursing

Gail Acuna

Gail Acuna, DNP, '16

Gail Acuna, DNP, has over 35 years of leadership, clinical and educational experience. She is the primary representative in the collaboration of innovative workforce grant programs benefiting Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), St. David’s HealthCare (SDH), and its partners at the local, state and national level. More  

James Dickens

James Dickens, DNP, '12

Capt. James Dickens is a commissioned officer and serves in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regional Office, Office of the Secretary, Region VI Dallas, Texas, as the senior program manager for the Office of Minority Health. He has more than 30 years of federal health care experience as a registered nurse and board-certified family nurse practitioner. More

Michael Moon

Michael Moon, Ph.D., R.N., '87

Michael Moon, Ph.D., R.N., CNS-CC, has been interested in nursing since his early days as a volunteer in the emergency department at St. Mary of the Plains Hospital in Lubbock (now Covenant Medical Center—Lakeside Campus). He was in the fifth graduating class  of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, receiving his Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the school’s Human Potential Award. More