UTEP Kicks Off Centennial Year

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP News Service

The University of Texas at El Paso rang in its Centennial year with a midnight toast and fireworks in front of the campus's new marquee, a gift from GECU. The University also started the year with gifts for babies.

The firstborn baby of 2014 at each of El Paso’s major hospitals received UTEP swag to remind parents that it’s never too early to start thinking about their child’s education.

The first El Paso babies born in 2014 received a UTEP gift pack containing shirts for the parents and a onesie and stuffed monkey for the baby. The gifts were part of the University's efforts to ring in its Centennial year and look toward the future. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News ServiceThe first El Paso babies born in 2014 received a UTEP gift pack containing shirts for the parents and a onesie and stuffed monkey for the baby. The gifts were part of the University's efforts to ring in its Centennial year and look toward the future. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service

Possible future members of the Class of 2032 received a navy blue UTEP onesie with the words, “I Back the Miners” proudly displayed across the top of the tiny bodysuit. Also included in the gift bags were a cuddly stuffed monkey or UTEP socks for the baby and “UTEP Mom” and “UTEP Dad” T-shirts for the proud parents.  

Among the newborns was Staff Sgt. Jeannette Leonguerrero’s daughter Alessandra, who was born at 10:53 a.m. at William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) on Jan. 1, 2014.

When Leonguerrero, a medic with the 2nd Engineer Battalion at White Sands Missile Range, was asked whether Alessandra would attend UTEP, she told the Fort Bliss Bugle, “Well, I don’t know where my next duty station will be, but we do like El Paso and Alessandra is definitely going to college. So, maybe.”

WBAMC was happy to join UTEP’s Centennial Celebration.

“The gift basket does indeed get parents thinking about their child's future as witnessed by Jeannette's comment that her daughter would definitely be going to college,” said Julia Yubeta of WBAMC Public Affairs. “As all devoted and loving parents do, military parents want the best for their children and want their children to succeed. College education is definitely the pathway to a better way of life. UTEP's reputation as an educational institution is well known within the military and civilian community.”

In addition to WBAMC, the New Year’s babies and their families received UTEP Centennial gift bags at Sierra Medical Center, Providence Memorial Hospital, Sierra Providence East Medical Center, Del Sol Medical Center, Las Palmas Medical Center and University Medical Center.

Hours before UTEP’s future Miners came into the world, alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the University celebrated UTEP’s next 100 years at the UTEP Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens on New Year’s Eve.

UTEP kicked off its Centennial year with a New Year's Eve party and fireworks at the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP News ServiceUTEP kicked off its Centennial year with a New Year's Eve party and fireworks at the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP News ServiceThe event brought friends and colleagues together to celebrate UTEP’s accomplishments over the past 100 years and kick off the University’s next century, said Gary Edens, Ed.D., vice president for student affairs.

“UTEP has such a strong connection to the El Paso community and I’m excited that the Centennial will allow us to talk in greater detail about everything that is going on at the University,” Edens said.

Guests donned orange felt top hats and welcomed 2014 with orange hand clappers and silver noisemakers. Edens wore an orange bow tie to commemorate the evening, which culminated with a fantastic fireworks show at midnight and remarks from UTEP President Diana Natalicio, who talked about UTEP’s long-standing institutional commitment to access and excellence.

“The entire party was very memorable from the food, music, fireworks and photo booth, but being able to celebrate with UTEP faculty, staff and students that all share a love for our University was the best part,” said Ashley Rodriguez, a psychology major and intern at the Student Engagement and Leadership Center. “I'm graduating in May so I am very excited for our Centennial and all of the celebrations.”

Those who stayed home and watched the local news on New Year’s Eve may have seen news anchor and UTEP alumna Estela Casas wearing a shimmery orange UTEP party hat to show off her Miner pride during the news broadcast.

The hat was included in a UTEP New Year’s Eve party pack filled with goodies for local television stations to decorate their studios.

UTEP’s Centennial kickoff continued on Thursday, Jan. 9, when the men’s basketball team took on the Charlotte 49ers in the first game of the season against a Conference USA opponent.

The outside of the Don Haskins Center was lit orange to welcome Miner fans to the first home conference game of UTEP’s Centennial year. Inside, cannons shot orange, blue and white confetti. The UTEP Chamber Singers sang the National Anthem and led fans in a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to the University.  

At half-time, fans were treated to birthday cupcakes.

Even though 2014 has just started, UTEP already has several festivities planned throughout the year. Remember to save the date and visit the UTEP Centennial Celebration site.