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A Family of Bears

Left to right: Paulette Rangel, Mark Rangel, Michael Jerome Rangel, Richard Rangel, Breanna Rangel, Ernie Andrade, Joanne Andrade, Kelsey (Andrade) Fisher, Michael Richard Rangel.

Left to right: Paulette Rangel, Mark Rangel, Michael Jerome Rangel, Richard Rangel, Breanna Rangel, Ernie Andrade, Joanne Andrade, Kelsey (Andrade) Fisher, Michael Richard Rangel

Tamsin Fleming
May 23, 2024

In the beginning, the Rangel and Andrade families found their way to UNC through sports scholarships that would afford life-changing opportunities. Today, their family legacy continues to thrive as more family members follow in their paths.

Back in 1958, Richard Rangel, ’62, M.A. ’65, secured a job for himself at a grain elevator. Coming from a line of migrant farmer workers, this was an incredible opportunity for him to have stability and a steady income. 

That’s when he was approached by coach Bud Best about a scholarship to play football at UNC.

Richard Rangel as center for the UNC Bears Football team.

“I can remember Bud Best saying, ‘We’ll give him a full ride to the school,’ and my dad saying, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s really necessary. We already got him a full-time job at the grain elevator,’” said Richard. “God bless my mom, she said, ‘Nope, I don’t want to hear any more of this about the full-time job at the grain elevator, he’s going to go to college and get an education.’”

His mother’s decision would make Richard the first in his family to go to college.

After Richard, his brothers, David Rangel, ’66, Philip Rangel, ’70, and Ralph Rangel, ’74, followed in his footsteps to become Bears. 

After earning his master’s degree, Richard went on to teach industrial arts, physical education and health in Greeley-Evans School District 6. After years of teaching, Richard went on to become an administrator, spending more than 12 years total working for the school district.

All of Richard’s sons, Don Rangel, ’82, M.A. ’89, Michael Rangel, ’85, and Mark, graduated from UNC. In addition, Don’s wife, Kristin Rangel, ’83, graduated from UNC, as well as their two sons, Bradley Rangel, ’16, and Matthew Rangel, ’18. 

“It was just one of those things, we were brought up knowing that we were going to college, and we all wanted to be educators and UNC is an education school,” said Mark, “That was a big part of [why we attended UNC.]”

 Second generation of Bears

Attending UNC with a wrestling scholarship, Mark earned an undergraduate degree in Physical Education and later a master’s of Educational Technology before working at Greeley Central High School for many
years. He is part of the second generation of Bears in his family.

While attending UNC, Mark met his wife, Paulette Rangel, ’88, M.A. ’95, while they were pursuing their undergraduate degrees. They met in their Mexican American Studies and Spanish classes, and Paulette remembers Mark as outgoing and funny, cracking jokes in class.

Being outgoing herself, Paulette made many friends during her time on campus.

“I made some really good friends that I’m still friends with to this day [who] lived on my dorm floors,” said Paulette. “One ended up marrying my cousin. She graduated from UNC, too. They live in Japan right now, but they come back every summer and we see each other and keep in touch through emails.”

Paulette comes from a sizable Bear family herself: a family of 37 Bears across extended family, to be exact. Paulette’s father, Ernie Andrade, ’62, M.A. ’71, Ed.D. ’82, was the second in his family to attend college after his older brother Manuel Andrade, ’54, and her stepmother Joanne Andrade, M.A. ’78, Ed.D. ’86, earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from UNC. A family of farm workers, the Andrade family boasts nine master’s degrees and four doctorates from UNC across its 37 Bear graduates to date.

While earning his master’s and doctorate degrees, Ernie worked in public education for 32 years before returning to work at UNC as the director of the Mexican American Studies master’s program, now called Chicana/o and Latinx Studies. Later, after earning his doctorate, Ernie designed and directed the Cumbres Program, which continues to support students pursuing a career in education with a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse focus.

Ernie was named an Honored Alumni in 1972 and inducted into the UNC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 as a pitcher and three more times for playing in the 1960, 1961 and 1962 College World Series. Having a long and storied history on campus, Ernie is proud to be part of his large Bear family. His daughter, Paulette, shares that sentiment of their family’s legacy.

Ernia Rangel as pitcher for the UNC Bears Baseball team.

“It’s been great to have all our families go through UNC. I’m proud of it. I like being a part of the UNC community,” said Paulette.

Third generation of Bears

Michael Rangel, ’13, Mark and Paulette’s son, is part of the third generation of Bears from the Rangel and Andrade families and one of the Rangel side’s 26 UNC graduates. Currently, he works in the Financial Aid office helping students embark on their UNC journey.

Michael’s older brother, Joshua Rangel, ’12, ’19, who was already enrolled at UNC, really helped him feel at home on campus. Living with his older brother while a student is something Michael looks back on fondly. Joshua and Michael were also joined by their cousin Kelsey Andrade Fisher, ’14.

UNC also holds special significance for Michael because it is where he started dating his wife, Breanna Rangel, ’12, M.A. ’14.

“We weren’t married then, but we went to school together, and she goes to UNC now. She’s going for her doctorate,” said Michael.

Michael’s favorite memory with Breanna was not when they were in school together, but when they returned to campus with their children to take a picture with Northern Vision as she started her doctoral program in 2021. For Michael, his children have grown and so much has changed since Breanna enrolled in the program — the picture serves as a reminder of where it all started.

For the Rangel and Andrade families, no matter where life takes them, they will always be a Bear family with UNC as a place to call home. Once a Bear, always a Bear.