Six Distinguished Alumni, Six Turns of Fate

It’s our red-letter, red-carpet day here at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center as we honor six of The University of Texas’ most impressive graduates.

Tonight we’ll present them with Distinguished Alumnus Awards at the LBJ Presidential Library.

We at The Alcalde had the great pleasure of interviewing these high achievers for video features on their remarkable lives. Those features will be available soon on our website, and printed versions will appear in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

All six of them have done amazing things. As we learned in our interviews, all of their lives could have been different. A significant choice each made had surprising repercussions down the road. Here are some of our favorites:

When she was Texas’ First Lady, Laura Bush started the Texas Book Festival. But its first year, she was so nervous it wasn’t going to go well—because of surprise construction and other issues—that she crawled back into bed. Eventually, friends came and told her things were going beautifully. Bush went on to found the National Book Festival, and both the state and national festivals continue to this day.

Attorney and philanthropist Julius Glickman, who played clarinet growing up, received a scholarship to The Juilliard School. But with a high school teacher’s encouragement, he chose to attend UT instead.

Charles Matthews‘ father, grandfather, and other relatives worked for Southern Pacific Railroad, but he chose not to follow them into the business. He went on to become Exxon Mobil Corp.’s vice president and general counsel, guiding the company through one of the largest corporate mergers in history.

As a track star at San Antonio’s Roosevelt High School, four-star Admiral William McRaven broke the school record in the mile. It taught him that with discipline and confidence, he could do anything. Later he would become commander of U.S. Special Operations and oversee the takedown of the world’s most-wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden.

While studying as a UT undergrad, now-civic leader and health care advocate Melinda Perrin worked part-time at the Texas Exes—never suspecting that years later she would win the Association’s highest honor.

Growing up in Mexico, Hector Ruiz dreamed of a career as a mechanic. He became an electrical engineer and CEO instead—and now he tinkers with vintage cars in his spare time.

Watch the awards ceremony live on the Longhorn Network at 7 p.m., and see a preview below.


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