2020 Honored Alumni
One of the events that was canceled as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) response was the Honored Alumni Celebration — our long-standing annual opportunity to recognize Bears who continue to make a difference for our students and university in so many ways. While we weren’t able to honor their achievements in person, our community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are inspired and uplifted by their stories and support.
Learn more about them (and share a congratulatory message) through the Honored Alumni videos:
WILLIAM H. (BILL) BENSON ’76
Bill’s love of history and dedication to UNC has supported students in developing a deep understanding of their role as citizens and leaders in Colorado. He established the William H. Benson History Scholarship in 2004 and the William H. Benson Endowment in 2014. Through these funds, Bill has contributed significantly to the university, and in so doing, has funded 105 scholarships to UNC students.
The Benson Scholarship has become the most prestigious and coveted award for undergraduates studying history at UNC. These students have gone on to successful careers in a variety of fields, including as foreign service officers, teachers and professors.
“Bill is the UNC History Department’s most loyal and significant supporter, and his devoted actions towards UNC over the past two decades make him the perfect candidate to receive a UNC Honored Alumni Award.”
—Fritz Fischer, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, History, Director of Teacher Education at UNC
GARY LOO ’64
Gary Loo’s professional accomplishments and philanthropic dedication exemplify UNC’s tradition of excellence. After graduation in 1964, Gary grew the family business, LooArt Press, into the largest direct mail marketer of greeting cards, stationery, gifts and related products. In 1986, he formed High Valley Group Inc., which invests in real estate and other business ventures.
Throughout his career, Gary has remained an active supporter of UNC. He served as a member of the Alumni Association Board in the late 1980s, and in 2001 he established the Gary Loo Athletic Scholarship Endowment to fund scholarships for UNC student-athletes. Additionally, Gary has supported the Monfort College of Business Dean’s Fund since 1992.
“Gary has repeatedly expressed that UNC holds a special place in his life. He says the time he spent as a student at UNC played an important role in shaping the person he is today, and that is why he chooses to give back and stay connected to the institution through philanthropy.”
—Monfort College of Business
ANISSA GUZMAN, Ph.D. ’93, ’01
After beginning her nursing education career teaching at community colleges in northern Colorado, Anissa Guzman, Ph.D., returned to UNC in 2015 as an assistant professor in the Nursing program. Anissa has shown a deep commitment to UNC’s students and the César Chávez Cultural Center in particular. In addition to offering advising and support, Anissa worked to help students dealing with food insecurity. While at UNC, she also served on a Success Looks Like ME career panel hosted by the Alumni Relations office.
“Representation in the nursing field, especially at the doctoral level, is critical given the low number of Latinas holding such credentials. This is important because her story demonstrates that a pathway is possible for students holding similar identities to follow in her footsteps. Additionally, Dr. Guzman’s academic contributions to the literature furthers understanding of chronic health issues affecting people from rural Mexican origins. The value of her voice in spaces where her scholarly expertise can contribute to further understanding of communities of color is priceless.”
—Joél Orozco Almeida, M.A.
JOSE MARTINEZ III ’07
As the son of two UNC alumni, Jose Martinez III ’07 learned the value of a quality education from a young age. Through participation in multicultural student organizations, Jose graduated from UNC with a deep understanding of what is required to create a well-rounded, inclusive educational environment that addresses the needs of its diverse student population. In 2013, he was selected for the prestigious Milken Educator Award.
In addition to his duties as a teacher and assistant principal, he has earned the nickname “Pied Piper” for his ability to engage students in group activities. Jose is a 2015 recipient of the UNC 10 Under 10 young alumni awards. In 2018, Jose acted as the keynote speaker for the National Field Experience Conference in Greeley and in 2019 served as the keynote speaker for the Cumbres Graduation Reception. He currently serves on the Boettcher Foundation Alumni Board.
“Despite the fact that not every teacher—especially not every great teacher—gets recognized for their hard work, I still think it’s the most rewarding job you could hope for. We get to change the future if we want to.”
—Jose Martinez III
RICO (ALFONSO) WINT ’09
Rico is a professional motivational speaker, youth educator, community leader and minister. While at UNC, he became student body president and was actively involved in student government, student clubs/organizations and programming offered through our cultural and resource centers. In the last 15 years, he’s continued to give back to the UNC community.
Since leaving UNC, Rico founded Young Men of Purpose (YMOP), an enrichment program designed to guide inner-city elementary, middle and high school males through programming that promotes positive self-image and prosocial behaviors. Over the last decade, YMOP has influenced more than 3,000 young men in the Denver-metro area, many of whom have chosen UNC as their post-secondary school. In 2017, Rico was honored with the Aurora Central High School, Legend Award.
“Through his determination, interpersonal skills and deep faith, Rico carries the perpetual spirit of UNC in all that he does. He has made a difference at our university and has positively impacted those around him. Rico is quick-witted, has a strong attention to detail and loyalty to his family and students. Rico is a true champion for higher education with a tireless commitment to serving our African American and Latinx high school students throughout the Denver area. Rico is the consummate alumnus and a role model to many.”
—Tobias J. Guzmán, Ph.D.