2022 Javelina Distinguished Alumni Honorees

HOMECOMING 2022  -  October 14th  -  Distinguished Alumni Awards 

Friday evening of Javelina Homecoming 2022 we will induct our newsest class of Distinguished Alumni, Rising Star and Blue & Gold Service honorees.


2022 Distinguished Alumni honorees:

Martha D. Salazar-Zamora, Class of 1987, 1992, 1999

Sarah R. Saldaña, Class of 1973

Josefina Villamil Tinajero, Class of 1980


Rising Star Honoree:

Remi Yusuf, Class of 2007



Dick Messbarger


About the Award Recipients:

Dr. Martha Salazar-Zamora has been an educator for over 30 years in Texas and serves as Superintendent of Schools in one of the fastest-growing districts with more than 20,500 students and over 2,000 employees at Tomball ISD. Salazar-Zamora elevated Tomball ISD into a consistent A-rated district and has been a top-ranking district in the Houston area. A few of her achievements include the opening of Tomball Star Academy, the Early Excellence Academy, a childcare center for employees, the Two-Way Dual Language Academy and a new state-of-the-art stadium and community center. Prior to her career in education administration, Salazar-Zamora earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in education from Texas A&I University/Texas A&M University-Kingsville


Dr. Salazar-Zamora's leadership has been tapped by a number of organizations including the Texas Education Agency (TEA) Commissioner's Cabinet, American Association of School Administrators (AASA) as Texas Representative, Vice-President of The Council of Women School Executives (TCWSE), Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) Executive Committee and Vice-President of Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (TALAS) to name a few.

Hon. Sarah R. Salda
ñretired as the fourth Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), leading nearly 20,000 employees with the mission to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. She was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2014 and officially became the first Latina to serve in the role. Saldaña began her law career in private practice before later serving as a line prosecutor, Deputy Criminal Chief, an Assistant U.S. Attorney and then U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Before her legal career Saldaña earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Texas A&I University and her J.D. degree from Southern Methodist University.

Judge Saldaña has received a number of meritorious awards and recognitions, including the 2017 DWLA Louise B. Raggio Award, 2014 Trailblazer of the Year by the Hispanic Women’s Network, 2014 Prote4ct her Award buy New Friends New Life, 2012 Most Influential Hispanics in the Nation by Poder Hispanic Magazine, 2012 Mujeres en Acción Award by UT Chicano/Hispanic Law Students Association, as well as the 2011 Hispanic National Bar Association’s Latina Attorney of the Year among many other accolades.

Dr. Josefina V. Tinajero is an educator and advocate of issues of equity and excellence for culturally and linguistically diverse children and families. She currently serves as Professor of Bilingual Education at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her extensive research and work in bilingualism, dual language education, language acquisition, literacy have led to impactful programs and initiatives. A couple of those initiatives include the UTEP Mother-Daughter/Father-Son Program and the El Paso Chapter of Do the Write Thing Challenge. Tinajero earned a doctoral degree from Texas A&I University in Bilingual Education, the first program of its kind in the nation.

Dr. Tinajero has been recognized by numerous professional and community organizations and received awards including El Ministerio ed Education y Ciencias del Reino de Espana, the Ohtli Award from the Government of Mexico, the Consulado Mexicano en El Paso, the Humanitarian Award from LULAC, Texas Professor of the Year by Carnegie Foundation and one of 20 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S. by the U.S. Hispanic Business Magazine in addition to dozens of others.

The Rising Star Award was established in 2003 and recognizes alumni within 15 years of their graduation from Texas A&M University-Kingsville who have achieved professional success and brought special honor to the university.

2022 Rising Star Remi Yusuf, is a 2007 social work graduate who went on to launch Be a 9th Wonder Foundation, a non-profit organization that hosts basketball events for autistic children and adults in the Houston-area. Prior to establishing the foundation, Yusuf played professional basketball overseas after a successful collegiate career playing for the Javelina Men's Basketball team.

Yusuf continues to expand the work of Be a 9th Wonder Foundation, implementing programs such as Becoming Wonder Woman - a mental health program for ladies from Australia to Costa Rica, Teach Me How to Fish event for children with special needs and fund-drives for other organizations such as the Sanctuary Foster Care Organization - giving toys to children with special needs. 

The Blue and Gold Service Award is presented to a deserving individual, business, or organization that embodies the four pillars of the association, are connected with the university and community, has Javelina Spirit, and supports the values and mission of the institution. It can only be awarded to an individual who did not graduate from the university.

2022 Blue & Gold Service Honoree is former Greater Kingsville Area Economic Development Center Director Dick Messbarger. He served in this role for more than 25 years and continues to volunteer his time in support of the development of the area and is an advocate for Texas A&M University-Kingsville and Naval Air Station-Kingsville in Austin and Washington.

Messbarger’s impact to the area granted him the unofficial title of “Mr. Kingsville”. Prior to his time with the EDC he ran two local radio stations and was editor of the Kingsville Record. Messbarger is credited with attracting new businesses to the area, new housing projects and so much more in support of the community.

Our honorees of the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards will be recognized at a ceremony during Homecoming Week at Texas A&M-Kingsville Oct. 14-15, 2022. As in past years, a dinner and program honoring these individuals will be open to the public. These plans are subject to change in accordance with any health or public gathering restrictions. More information regarding the ceremony will be officially announced early Fall. 

ABOUT the Alumni Awards

Javelina alumni and faculty make amazing things happen in the world. Their accomplishments significantly benefit both society and our campus, by inspiring others and providing insight and creativity. Their actions communicate the dynamic excellence of being a Javelina and the importance of service as a component of our philosophy. To celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni and faculty, the Javelina Alumni Association sponsors awards for distinguished alumni, research and teaching.
Distinguished Alumni Award 
The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni who have demonstrated long-time and successful commitment to their careers and communities and have brought special honor to the university because of their accomplishments.
Rising Star Award
Rising Star Award recognizes graduates of the university who have experienced professional success and who are within 15 years of their graduation from Texas A&M University - Kingsville.


Every year, the Javelina Alumni Association honors faculty who excel in the classroom and in the field. Only two faculty members receive recognition during the Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony dedicated to celebrate faculty dedication to the university's core values—teaching and research. 
Distinguished Research Award 
Distinguished Research Award is presented to a deserving faculty member who has shown superior scholarship through publication, continued creativity, the research impact on the field, and/or other academic or professional awards. 
Distinguished Teaching Award
Distinguished Teaching Award is presented to a deserving faculty member who has shown excellence, intellectual insights and ability to engage student learning that has life-long impact.