BROWNWOOD – September 21, 2022 – Howard Payne University will honor seven individuals for achievements and service during the Stinger Spectacular on October 14-15. The weekend’s activities encompass Homecoming, Family Weekend and Yellow Jacket Preview.
The honorees for 2022 are Mede Nix ’80, Distinguished Alumna; Elizabeth (Santos) Garcia ’72, Coming Home Queen; Stephen Cox ’10, Outstanding Young Graduate; Bobbie Price, Grand Marshal; Pat Hardy ’70, Medal of Service; Bertha (Rey) Valle ’09 (posthumous), Medal of Service; and Rev. Roland Johnson, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award.
The honorees will be recognized at the Alumni Banquet on Friday, October 14, at 5:45 p.m., in the Beadel Dining Hall of Mabee University Center. They will also be included in the Stinger Spectacular Parade on Saturday, October 15, at 10 a.m. The parade will travel through downtown Brownwood on Center Avenue to Fisk Street via Austin Avenue and pass through the HPU campus.
Mede Nix ’80, Distinguished Alumna
Mede Nix ’80 says HPU provided her with a strong foundation – not only for her career but for her life. The practical experience she gained at HPU alongside professors who truly cared about her shaped her into the leader she is today.
Nix received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and physical education from HPU in 1980, graduating summa cum laude. During her time at HPU she was the director of the university news service and sports information for the NCAA Division II school, which made her the first female sports information director in Texas. She was also the Yellow Jacket editor, participated in intramural sports and was a member of both the Alpha Chi National Honor Society and the Kappa Delta Pi National Education Honor Society. At graduation, she received the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities Award and was named the Outstanding Journalism Graduate, the Outstanding Physical Education Graduate and the Outstanding Intramural Athlete.
Following her graduation, she worked for United Press International, Dallas Times Herald and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She is currently the senior editor for news at The Dallas Morning News, overseeing breaking news, criminal justice, local government, politics, education and immigration coverage. During her career, she has served as both editor and reporter, covering stories across the country. She resides in Grand Prairie.
Elizabeth (Santos) Garcia ’72, Coming Home Queen
Elizabeth (Santos) Garcia ’72 says that HPU not only prepared her academically but also helped her mature into the person God created her to be. She says her role models at HPU, including faculty and staff as well as her peers, taught her invaluable lessons about meeting the needs of others and doing everything for the Lord.
Garcia received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from HPU in 1972 and a master’s degree in education from Tarleton State University in 1983. While at HPU, she was a member of the Spanish Club and La Hora Bautista, as well as a charter member of Zeta Alpha Pi, a social service organization. She served on the Interorganizational Council and was elected BSU Sweetheart for La Hora Bautista. She was a member of Primera Iglesia Bautista, where she taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, was active in the Women’s Missionary Union and was involved in Vacation Bible School.
Following her graduation from HPU, she taught math at Brownwood Middle School for 16 years, at H.B. Zachary Middle School in San Antonio for 13 years and at Heritage Middle School in San Antonio for seven years. In 2011, she retired after teaching math for 36 years.
Garcia was married to the late Jimmy E. Garcia, and has three sons, two stepsons and 11 grandchildren. She resides in San Antonio.
Stephen Cox ’10, Outstanding Young Graduate
Stephen Cox ’10 says his HPU music professors and peers inspired him and pushed him to be his best. The relationships he formed at HPU continue to be some of the most important in his life.
Cox received a bachelor’s degree in all-level music education from HPU in 2010. While at HPU he was involved in the band, the Jazz Band, Winds of Triumph and Kappa Kappa Psi/Zeta Beta. At graduation, he received the Schubert Music Award, the Jeremy Lewis Music Award and the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities Award.
After graduation, he served as the director of bands at Eastland High School for the past decade. During his time at Eastland, the high school band was a consistent UIL sweepstakes band, advanced to state marching contest, won multiple State OPS concert band titles and performed as a demo group for the Midwest clinic and Texas Bandmasters Association conventions. Cox has also been featured in the School Band and Orchestra Magazine’s “50 Directors Who Make A Difference” and was the winner of the 2022 Grammy Music Educator Award. He currently serves as director of bands at the Advanced Learning Academy, Fox Tech and Cast Tech Schools in San Antonio.
Cox is married to Stephanie (Dotson) Cox ’10 and has three children. The family resides in San Antonio.
Bobbie Price, Grand Marshal
Bobbie Price, HPU’s certification coordinator and graduation assistant, says that working with outstanding supervisors and coworkers at HPU has provided treasured growth and fond memories that she holds dear to her heart. She says she would not be the person she is today without their guidance and love for the Lord.
Price began working in the Admissions and Registrar’s Office at HPU in October 1972. She said the Lord provided the opportunity for her to work at HPU and, over the 50 years since she began, she has embraced it as her calling. One of her favorite events is Commencement, at which she enjoys seeing the students she has helped and come to know accomplish their goals.
Other events she enjoys attending include sporting events, piano recitals, theatre productions and Homecoming activities.
Price, a resident of Brownwood, has two daughters – both HPU alumni – and four grandchildren.
Pat Hardy ’70, Medal of Service
Since graduating from HPU, Pat Hardy ’70 has dedicated her life to education.
Having received a bachelor’s degree in social studies from HPU, Hardy earned a master’s degree in secondary education and history from the University of North Texas. She then taught high school world history and world geography for 30 years at Castleberry High School in Fort Worth. In 2017, she retired as an instructional specialist in Weatherford Independent School District.
Hardy was elected to serve District 11 of the State Board of Education in November 2002 and re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2018. She currently serves on the board’s Committee on the School Finance/Permanent School Fund, the nation’s largest education endowment. She also serves on a national panel on teacher alliances for the National Geographic Society and on the Texas Council for Supervisors Association. At her church, she is the co-director for the Kids Hope mentor program, through which she mentors a student weekly at George C. Clarke Elementary School. She resides in Fort Worth.
Bertha (Rey) Valle ’09, Medal of Service (posthumous)
The late Bertha (Rey) Valle ’09 credited HPU with helping her grow spiritually and become more confident when serving others. Her lifelong dream was to earn a college degree, and HPU helped her fulfill that dream.
Valle began working at HPU’s El Paso Center in 1995 and served there until she retired in 2020. While working at HPU, she took classes and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2009.
She loved HPU, especially helping students at the El Paso location. She was very active in church, serving at Iglesia Bautista Trinity for many years as well as her last home church in Mexico, Iglesia del Valle. She was also a speaker at an annual women’s retreat and loved serving her community. Before she came to HPU, she worked at the Baptist Spanish Publishing House and Brookhaven Community College.
She was married to Eduardo Valle. They have two daughters, one of whom graduated from HPU, and three grandsons.
Rev. Roland Johnson, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award
For over five decades, Rev. Roland Johnson has had a distinguished career in ministry. Johnson, who has served as pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Keller since 2014, has provided leadership as pastor to several churches in north and central Texas.
Johnson attended HPU in 1969 and later received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 1973, a master’s degree in biblical studies from Criswell College in 1989 and a master’s degree in counseling from Grand Canyon University in 2016.
Alongside serving his community and preaching, Johnson enjoys photography, videography and graphic design. He resides in Keller.
To register to attend Stinger Spectacular events on the HPU campus, visit www.hputx.edu/spectacular or call the Office of Alumni Relations at 325-649-8007.
Cutline 1: Mede Nix ’80, Distinguished Alumna
Cutline 2: Elizabeth (Santos) Garcia ’72, Coming Home Queen
Cutline 3: Stephen Cox ’10, Outstanding Young Graduate
Cutline 4: Bobbie Price, Grand Marshal
Cutline 5: Pat Hardy ’70, Medal of Service
Cutline 6: Bertha (Rey) Valle ’09, Medal of Service (posthumous)
Cutline 7: Rev. Roland Johnson, Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award