Alumni Notes: Winter 2020

Editors’ Note: This feature appears as it was published in the winter 2020 edition of UT Dallas Magazine. Titles or faculty members listed may have changed since that time.

Alumni Memories: The First 50 Years

We asked our alums to share their fondest memories of UT Dallas.

Larry Brasfield MS’77

Having Ray Lutz as a mentor and parking on the dirt right beside the front door of one of the two buildings in existence at the time, which is amazing considering the magnitude and scope of campus today.

Editor’s note: Dr. Raymond Lutz worked at UT Dallas from 1973-2000 and developed the University’s program in management science. A professor of operations management, he served as the School of Management’s first dean and later was executive dean of graduate studies and research for the University.

Shelly Ahlemeier BS’98, MS’99

UTD circa 1994 — that’s when I began my freshman year — was like making a mix tape: You made it what you wanted it to be by taking your favorite parts of life or you just created something new altogether. I moved back to Richardson with my family about 10 years ago, mainly because of my time at UTD. I wanted for my boys what I learned to appreciate at UTD: an education that was intellectually challenging, but full of diversity. I wanted them to know that the world they were growing up in isn’t made up of only blondes and blue eyes. So many of my friends landed at UTD at the time for different reasons, but I think one thing we all had in common was a desire for something different. You can definitely say that those first few years the University accepted 18-year-olds on the campus were not the typical freshman experience, but our time of building something new together built lifelong friendships as well. Whether it was a budding Greek system, a jitterbug club, the Student Government, intramural sports, Homecoming festivities, if we wanted it, we made it happen with the support of the University. Helping to build a life for young college students helped build me as a person. Now when I take my boys on walks through the campus, they always comment on how beautiful it is. As I laugh a little to myself at their admiration of the campus’ beauty, I’m grateful I was able to be a small part of transforming that caterpillar into the beautiful butterfly that it is today.

Shelly Ahlemeier with friendsShelly Ahlemeier, center in red plaid shirt, hangs out with friends in the 1990s at UT Dallas.

For Larry Chasteen PhD’03, it was joining his wife, Jean Baumann BA’77, as a UT Dallas graduate. He now serves as a clinical professor of organizations, strategy and international management, and director of online programs for the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

Jean Baumann and Larry Chasteen

Rubia Valente MS’09, PhD’13

I did both my master’s and PhD work at UTD, and taught there for three years. During my nine years at UTD, my husband got his master’s and PhD; my mom earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology; and my two younger sisters [Sarah Valente and Junia Valente] earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and their PhDs. So my family was always around, and I could easily go have lunch with them or study together in the quiet lounge (it no longer exists, but was in the Student Union where Starbucks is now), or in the library’s fourth floor, or in the small library at the Ackerman Center. Three of my most favorite memories at UTD are: graduating with a PhD at the same time that my younger sister Sarah graduated with a master’s degree; hooding my husband, Frederico Araujo, at his doctoral hooding ceremony; and giving my mom, Maria Valente, her diploma during her graduation in 2016. Those for me were very special moments, and I will forever remember and cherish them. My husband and I got married in 2010, when we were both starting our PhDs, and we went to live in the Waterview Apartments on campus. Our very first home together was in Apartment 1933 across from the soccer fields, and that was home for seven years. When I think about UTD, I think about family and about being home. I miss those years.

Editor’s note: A special “Whoosh!” for this Comet family!

  • Rubia Valente MS’09, PhD’13, public policy and political economy
  • Frederico Araujo, MS’12, PhD’16, software engineering
  • Junia Valente BS’09, MS’10, PhD’18, software engineering
  • Sarah Valente, BA’11, MA’13, PhD’19, humanities
  • Maria Valente, BS’16, sociology

Christina Denton BA’12

My favorite part of studying at UTD was the fantastic discussions we used to have in historical studies classes. Dr. Stephen Rabe’s class on American foreign policy, Dr. Daniel Wickberg’s classes on American intellectual history, and Dr. Eric Schlereth’s class on religious politics in the early republic, in particular, featured some fascinating discourse on the development of our modern worldview. I can’t leave out Dr. Peter Ingrao — although “Exploration of the Humanities” is not a history class — because the discussions he facilitated on the moral responsibility of Frankenstein’s monster were a highlight of freshman year.

Shannon McKemie MA’16

The quiet mornings and nights on campus — either arriving to work or leaving from class — there is a beauty in the silence. The other memories that I cherish are the fall 2016 ATEC Capstone Celebration where my project was named outstanding graduate capstone, and my induction into Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Ruikun Bai BS’17

My fondest memories at UTD were lifeguarding the Activity Center pool and attending all the Homecoming events.

Anna Reiter BS’17

Marrying my best friend and fellow Comet [Will Retzloff, BS’11, MS’16] We met while I was an exchange student from Germany. I never dreamed that we’d find a way to be together — much less have the same alma mater.

Anna Reiter and Will RetzloffAnna Reiter and Will Retzloff pose for a wedding photo near the reflecting pools on the Margaret McDermott Mall.

Kyontasia Wilson BS’18

“My favorite memory of UTD was the feeling of a home away from home while I was a student and even when I return to campus as an alum. The amazing sense of community and the atmosphere at UTD will always have a place in my heart and makes me proud to forever call myself a Comet.

Kyontasia Wilson, Rachel Mathew, Suyash Shetty, Claudia Torres and Aleena ThomasFrom left to right: Kyontasia Wilson, Rachel Mathew, Suyash Shetty, Claudia Torres and Aleena Thomas take part in an event under the trellis.

Matthew Gehrlein BS’19

In July 2018, Dani Kopado BA’18, Rodolfo Zevallos BS’18 and I had just descended Machu Picchu and were walking through the town of Aguas Calientes when we saw someone wearing green and orange sunglasses, which I recognized from Founders Day 2017. We approached her and found out that she was indeed was a fellow Comet! It was the best #whoosharoundtheworld moment!

Dani Kopado, Matthew Gehrlein, Rodolfo Zevallos, and Giselle RosiqueFrom left to right: Dani Kopado, BA’18, Matthew Gehrlein, BS’19, Rodolfo Zevallos, BS’18, and Giselle Rosique, BS’20, do the Whoosh! in Peru.