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2021 Honored Alumni


Office of Alumni RelationsOffice of Alumni Relations
January 11, 2021

Congratulations to the 2021 UNC Honored Alumni. Excerpts from each honoree’s nomination are available below, and you can learn more during the virtual celebration on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

Steven Maurice ’72
“While Steven and his family have been donating funds to UNC for some time, in 2018 he listened to UNC’s Bear in Mind Podcast which featured some of the international field work Dr. Doerner and I conducted with students here in our program. Inspired by this fieldwork in Guyana, Iceland and Africa, Mr. Maurice decided to target his donations to the Department of Geography, GIS, & Sustainability. Since that time, we’ve come to know Mr. Maurice as a dedicated member of his community who has contributed both time and funds to sustainable initiatives around the world. Steven and his family have committed their lives to civic engagement through projects both local and international in scale.”
Dr. Karen S. Barton
UNC Professor of Geography, GIS, and Sustainability

“…through Steve’s generosity he provided the revenue to purchase necessary sound equipment for the Theatre. The Uptown Theatre is now an event center in the FSCC and we book musicians and other entertainment which creates a needed revenue stream. The Theatre is also the home of the Mount Vernon/Lisbon Community Theater and it is used by students at Cornell College for their student productions and other groups such as the Mount Vernon Girl Scouts. We are in the process of updating our sound equipment and Steve is again assisting us. Steve is a very generous man with his time and knowledge plus his financial contributions.”
Trude and Rick Elliott
Owners and Operators First Street Community Center

“He was a leader in a drive to upgrade our town’s theater space and served as pro bono consultant to make the space comfortable and acoustically sound. In configuring the sound system, he drew upon his years as a musician to spec out and help install a system that would be the envy of many much larger performance spaces. In addition, Steve has directed annual contributions to our arts council from his family’s foundation. This support has gone a long way toward assisting our efforts to make Mount Vernon an arts-centric community.”
Steve Maravetz
President, Mount Vernon Area Arts Council

Larry L. Miller ’61
“Dr. Miller received the Horace T. Morse all-university undergraduate teaching award and several national awards for research including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. He mentored more than forty Ph.Ds. and forty postdoctoral fellows and with them published some two hundred research papers. Dr. Miller conducted research in organic chemistry, electrochemistry and materials chemistry. His approach was to get a new, sometimes radical, idea involving these disparate fields; then validate the hypothesis, show how it works and how it could be used. He was a world leader in organic electrochemistry, using electricity to perform chemical reactions. His research group found that many types of compounds, both simple and complex, could be electrochemically converted to useful products…

He was very proud of his time at UNC and was particularly appreciative of the encouragement, support, and occasional nudges he received from his professors in the chemistry department during his undergraduate years. He arrived as the first in his family to attend college and went on to graduate school and a life full of chemistry and exceptional experiences and noteworthy contributions to the chemistry profession and academia. He chose to help similar UNC undergraduate students achieve their goal of pursuing chemistry graduate school with the establishment of the Larry L. Miller Chemistry Scholarship.”
Dr. James Schreck
UNC Professor of Chemistry Emeritus

Bettie Stone ’72, ’80, ’02
“The first 34 years of her career were exemplary in her ability to be the teacher who was involved in all aspects of her district. Her move into administration allowed her to expand her influence from her classroom to the entire district, developing curriculum and helping to manage the business side of education. During this time she also completed her MA in Science Education and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, both at UNC. Thirty-four years is a long and fulfilling career in education. For many, that would be the beginning of retirement, enjoying passions put aside for so many years. But for Dr. Stone, this seemed a great time to start her second act…

It is in the delivery of this expertise where Dr. Stone has most demonstrated the values of Honored Alumni and paid homage to UNC’s history as a teacher’s college. Her passion is to work individually with educators and light the fire for changing the lives of children. While Dr. Stone has taken the education she acquired through her three degrees at UNC to the world outside Colorado, she continues to be an ardent supporter of the university. Home time finds her at football, volleyball and basketball (men’s and women’s) games.”
Cathi Entwistle ’82

“Bj is recognized nationally and internationally as an education leader. She has coached and mentored thousands of in-service and pre-service educators. As an author of Classroom Instruction that Works, 2nd Edition; Handbook for Classroom Instruction, 2nd Edition; and Pursuing Greatness: Empowering Teachers to Take Charge of Their Professional Growth her unique style of teaching through storytelling comes through. Bj always has an anecdote or a story to share that drives a point home for her learners. Although Bj has worked across the nation, she often remarked about how serving the schools and districts around the Greeley area brought her the greatest satisfaction, and this statement is a reflection of her commitment to community.”
Kathleen Dempsey
McREL International, Senior Director (2008-2020)

Brandon Torrez ’99, ’02
“Much of his GWHS and UNC pride come from his passion for students. Torrez is committed to the students he serves and immerses himself in all aspects of the high school student experience. For more than a decade, he sponsored the League of United Latin American Citizens club at GWHS, engaging the often underserved and underrepresented Hispanic/Latino population of students and families the school serves. He also recently completed a 20-year span of acting as the assistant coach of the GWHS boys basketball team…

As a Latino math educator, he understands his potential to serve as a role model, advisor, and example for the students he teaches. Helping students see their potential is a personal mission for Torrez, and hundreds of students would share that his insight and support made an impact on the direction of their lives. Throughout his career, Torrez has been a vocal advocate for students to receive their college education, often sharing the educational opportunities available through his alma-mater, UNC.”
Isaiah and Elijah Torrez

“’Torrez’, as his students affectionately call him, is known as one of the best and one of the toughest teachers at Greeley West High School. A Spartan graduate himself, he is a teacher that makes those around him better and continues to get better himself by embracing new curriculums and technologies, even after over two decades. His efforts have been recognized by his students (they voted him commencement speaker in 2019), by his peers (he was voted GWHS Teacher of the Year in 2017), and parents alike. He is a Spartan, through and through. As a University of Northern Colorado alum myself, I would whole-heartedly recommend Brandon Torrez as an Honored Alum as he embodies everything I strive to be.”
Jeff Cranson ’09
Principal, Greeley West High School

Nancy Wendirad ’05
“I have known Nancy since she was an undergraduate student at UNC and have been following her career and accomplishments since then. She is indeed an inspirational and committed professional who has been and continues to be actively involved in the Greeley and UNC community. I believe that her efforts to relentlessly represent and promote UNC, as well as her extensive community work deserve recognition.”
Dr. Madeline Milian
UNC Professor of Education

“Nancy is a dedicated, strong and positive person. She is dedicated to family, education, her career, and her students. Nancy has dealt with some life and health issues in a strong and positive way. We all have choices to make in life and Nancy chooses to be positive and stay strong. When Nancy commits to an endeavor, you can be assured that it will not only be carried out, but it will be done to the BEST of her ability.“
Diana Vásquez ’80

“For the past nine years I have known her, she has displayed characteristics of an outstanding leader and a hard-working individual. Her continual dedication inspires me to be a better person and deliberately pursue my goals. Mrs. Wendirad has demonstrated passion and efficiency guiding students and their families through countless instances. As an educator, she applies classroom etiquette and uses her outstanding interpersonal skills to assure that students feel welcome and confident. She goes above and beyond to assist them in achieving their goals. Personally, she has helped me develop academically and professionally by challenging me to apply to rigorous educational institutions and employment opportunities.”
Dolores I. García
Fort Lupton High School ’15


Do you know someone deserving of an Honored Alumni award? To nominate alumni and friends for future selection, please visit the Honored Alumni page or contact the Alumni Association. Nominations open each fall.

Honored Alumni