The Javelina Alumni Association at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has announced the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards, as well as the recipients of the Rising Star Award and the Blue and Gold Service Award.
As the association’s most prestigious honor, Distinguished Alumni is awarded only to alumni of the university who have had abundant success professionally and personally, through which they have positively represented and brought honor to Texas A&M-Kingsville.
The Rising Star Award was established in 2004 and recognizes alumni within 15 years of their graduation from Texas A&M-Kingsville who have achieved professional success and brought special honor to the university.
The Blue and Gold Service Award is presented to a deserving individual, business or organization that embodies the four pillars of the association, are connected with the university and community, has Javelina Spirit, and supports the values and mission of the institution. It can only be awarded to an individual who did not graduate from the university.
“These men and women embody many of the foundational values of our university, including integrity, selfless service and excellence. They represent the significant impact our alumni have on their communities, state and nation. Among this year’s honorees are pioneers, leaders and dedicated champions of our university. We are honored to recognize these outstanding individuals for all they have accomplished and for continuing the legacy of our outstanding Javelina Alumni,” said Mark A. Hussey, President of Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
The honorees will be recognized at a ceremony Friday, Oct. 25, during Homecoming Week. For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, please visit the alumni website at www.javelinaalumni.com.
The new Distinguished Alumni are:
• U.S. Air Force Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin, Class of 1979, San Antonio
• Jackie C. Collins, Class of 1972, Kingsville
• Richard P. Ritchie, Class of 1977, Mineral Wells
The Rising Stars are:
• Brian McFall, Class of 2005 and 2008, Vicksburg, Miss.
• Christina M. “Michelle” Unda, Class of 2005, Corpus Christi
The Blue and Gold Service Award winner is Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate.
About the Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Veteran and Military Affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Col. Carrington Firmin is also the Founder, CEO and Consultant at Carrington Firmin LLC, which provides consulting and training services in the areas of leadership, veterans, transitions and diversity and inclusion.
During her military service, Col. Carrington Firmin held a multitude of leadership roles and received numerous awards and recognitions including, but not limited to, the Legion of Merit Medal with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters and the Iraq Campaign Medal.
Among her many professional honors, Col. Carrington Firmin was featured in San Antonio Magazine and LATINA Style Magazine; earned the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce National Latina Leader award, the Governor of Texas’ Yellow Rose award, the State of New Mexico’s Major T.H. Baca award, the National Diversity Council’s Trailblazer and Most Powerful and Influential Women in Texas awards, the Texas Diversity Council Greater San Antonio LGBT Ally award, the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas Latina Trailblazer award and the Northside Education Foundation Pillar award. Col. Carrington Firmin has been invited as a keynote speaker or presenter at countless conferences, symposiums, summits and more.
Col. Carrington Firmin earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&I University in 1979. She graduated from Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Base in 1985 and earned her Master of Science degree in organizational behavior and human resource management from Chapman University in 1987. Col. Carrington Firmin also earned her Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from Air University and was an honor graduate of Air Command and Staff College, both at Maxwell Air Force Base. Upon her retirement from military service, Col. Carrington Firmin was the highest ranking Latina in Air Force history.
Jackie Collins is the owner of VT Collins Inc., a local business in Kingsville. Her service to the community of both Kingsville and Texas A&M-Kingsville has been boundless. Collins serves as a member of the First United Methodist Church United Methodist Women, a bereavement committee for the church. She has also served as the superintendent for the homemaking portion of the youth livestock show for over 12 years and has been an active member of the Woman’s Club of Kingsville for over 20 years.
As a loyal Javelina Club Member, Collins was named the Javelina Club Member of the Year in 2012-2013. She was a Legacy Society honoree in 2017 and currently serves on the Texas A&M-Kingsville Foundation. Collins also established an endowment with her husband, the late Jerry Collins, at Texas A&M-Kingsville in support of Javelina Athletics. She is a President’s Circle member and recognized as one of the biggest Javelina Athletics supporters, attending the majority of games and volunteering her time and resources for athletic events. Collins is also the caretaker for Porky, the university’s mascot. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Texas A&I University in 1972.
Richard Ritchie is an attorney with The Richard P. Ritchie Law firm in Mineral Wells, alongside his father, John P. Ritchie. He has practiced law since 1991.
Ritchie is most recognized for his athletic career at Texas A&M-Kingsville, having played on the football team as the quarterback from 1973-76. He started and competed in 39 consecutive games, with the team compiling an undefeated 39-0-0 record. During his time as the quarterback, the Javelinas won three national championships as well as three Lone Star Conference (LSC) titles. As a student-athlete, Ritchie was named NAIA Player of the Year in 1976, LSC Back of the Year in 1975 and 1976, and was all-LSC for three years. Ritchie was also an Academic All-American, three-time LSC All-Academic and a member of Alpha Chi National Honor Society.
Earning many awards in recognition of his athletic career, Ritchie was inducted into the Javelina Hall of Fame in 1983, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Lone Star Conference Hall of Honor in 1999. After graduation, Ritchie held various coaching positions at the University of Texas, North Texas State University and Texas Tech.
Ritchie served a 12-year term as a member on the Texas A&M-Kingsville Foundation Board of Trustees and is a member of The Legacy Society. He also established the Richard Ritchie Endowment in support of Javelina Athletics and regularly attends Javelina Football games and other university social events with his wife, Penny. Ritchie earned his bachelor’s degree in education/kinesiology from Texas A&I University in 1977 and earned his juris doctor degree from St. Mary’s University in 1991.
About the Rising Star
Brian McFall currently serves as a research civil engineer within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. His research has been widely published and he has received many awards including the CHL Innovation Achievement Award in 2018; U.S. Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service in 2017; ERDC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Student Outreach Post-Secondary in 2017; and the NEES Community Award for Publications in 2012.
He has been involved as a member in several organizations such as the Engineer and Scientist Exchange Program in the Netherlands in 2018; the ERDC Leadership Development Program in both 2016 and 2017; the Collegiate All-American Scholar Program in 2005; Who’s Who Among College Students in 2004; the American Society of Civil Engineers, Treasurer and Secretary of the Corpus Christi branch. McFall is an Eagle Scout.
McFall earned his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2005, graduating Summa Cum Laude. He also earned his Master of Science degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2008. In 2014, he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in civil engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Christina M. “Michelle” Unda currently serves as the Regional Manager of HR and Public Affairs for the Central West South Region of NuStar Energy. Unda has volunteered in many capacities and is a member on the Boards of Directors for the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend and the Coastal Bend Community Foundation. She also serves as a Del Mar College Foundation Trustee and as a member of the Port Industries of Corpus Christi Public and Government Affairs Committee.
Unda graduated from Texas A&M-Kingsville in 2005, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. She earned a master’s degree in organizational leadership in 2016 from the University of Saint Francis - Fort Wayne, Indiana. Unda also earned an Associate in Arts degree in liberal arts and journalism from Del Mar College in 2003 and is a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi Class 36.
About the Blue and Gold Service Award winner
Sam Fugate has practiced law for over 20 years in Kingsville and served as a member of the Kingsville Independent School District Board of Trustees for nine years and is the current mayor for the City of Kingsville. He is also an active member of the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Fugate was born and raised in Kingsville, graduating from H.M King High School.
He and his wife are Legacy Society members, President’s Circle members and previously served on the Javelina Club Advisory Board. Fugate earned his business degree in finance from Southwest Texas State University in 1976 and his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s University in 1978.