Prominent WT Alumni of Color to Be Honored at Homecoming Week Celebration

CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University will honor its diverse alumni community at its Celebration of Color during Homecoming Week. 

The event, hosted by the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, will begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on WT’s Canyon campus. 

Tickets are $30, including dinner. RSVPs are requested by Sept. 28. 

“Last year, we commemorated the 60th anniversary of the integration of the WT campus by honoring some of the University’s first Black graduates,” said Angela Allen, WT’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. “This year, we are expanding that to pay tribute to WT alumni of color who have made an enormous impact professionally and in their communities.” 

At the event, the Dinga/Hollingsworth Group at Morgan Stanley and Education Credit Union will be presented with Diversity Community Service Awards for their contributions to diversity at WT. 

The four alumni to be honored this year include a prominent civic leader and volunteer, a lawyer dedicated to championing the injured, a leader in the U.S. Department of Defense, and a visionary health care consultant and urban developer. 

Pearlene Martin, who earned her master’s in education from WT in 1966, is a longtime educator who retired from the classroom in 1988. Since then, she has devoted herself to her community and church, working tirelessly as a volunteer and board member for a range of organizations, including the YMCA, Friends of the Library, Center City of Amarillo, Amarillo Little Theatre, Amarillo Museum of Art, Don Harrington Discovery Center, Girl Scouts, Catholic Family Services and more. 

She served as the first woman president of the Amarillo Branch NAACP. At WT, she was a founding member of Zeta Phi Beta, the first Black sorority on campus. 

“Pearlene Martin is an institution in Amarillo, and anyone who knows her knows that her primary passion is the education of young children,” Allen said. “But she also has worked tirelessly for the NAACP and for her church—always for the betterment of people.” 

J.E. Sauseda, who earned bachelor’s in political science in 1979 from WT, is a name partner in Amarillo law firm Hoffman, Shefield, Sauseda & Hoffman, a personal injury firm that opened in 1979. 

Sauseda, who earned his law degree from the University of Texas, began his legal career in 1982, soon joining the then-Hoffman & Sheffield. 

At the firm, he holds the record for the highest gross recovery in a single year for a case that won his client a $14 million verdict. His representation of various clients extends from those who have suffered horrific injuries as result of car or semi-truck collisions to those harmed by the negligence of their health care providers 

In 2001, he won the Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement award. In 2005, he was awarded the Dr. R.W. Jones Freedom Fund Achievement Award by the Amarillo Branch NAACP. He is a past member of the foundation board for the Wesley Community Center. 

“J.E. Sauseda is a prime example of the entrepreneurial spirit we want to share with our students,” Allen said. “As his numerous accolades demonstrate, he has found great success not only in his legal practice but also in helping his community.” 

Jimmie Vaughn-Adams is a career civil servant with more than 40 years of experience in the federal government. She currently works as an associate director of talent development and the chief of career and professional development for the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service of the Department of Defense. She manages enterprise-level programs for the DOD, helping develop policies and strategies that support training, education and professional development of the civilian workforce. She also leads mentoring and coaching programs for the DOD. 

Vaughn-Adams, who earned a bachelor’s in education from WT in 1972, represented the U.S. Army in Europe during the fall of the Berlin Wall, working at the helm of the greatest reduction of U.S. forces since the Cold War. She earned a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College and a master’s of public administration from American University. 

“Jimmie Vaughn-Adams has been a trailblazer since graduating from WT,” Allen said. “Our students can look to her to see what’s possible in their future.” 

Dr. David Willis, also a 1979 graduate of WT, is managing partner of Cedar Crest Development Co. in Dallas, a company responsible for multimillion-dollar urban development projects in Oklahoma, Kansas and the Dallas area, including The Village at Lake West and South Pointe Park, a public-private development scheduled to break ground in October. 

Willis, who attended WT on full football and track scholarships, founded Home Health Care Management Solutions in 1992 following several years as a coach and teacher. At WT, he was a founding member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity; since graduation, he has served on the WT Alumni Association board of directors, including as its first African-American president in 2016, and on the president’s executive committee. He earned a doctorate of divinity from Trinity International Seminary. 

“When Dr. Willis served as president of the WT Alumni Association, I witnessed firsthand his genuine care for students of color at WT,” Allen said. “His goal and ours is to reconnect alumni of color with the diverse student body of WT to offer support and set a strong example.” 

For a full list of WT Homecoming activities, visit wtamu.edu/homecoming. 

A diverse student body, faculty and staff is a key principle of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. 

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised more than $110 million.

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