Distinguished Alumni

Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumnus   watch video     
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In 2016, Dr. Brenda Kays was named the first females president of Kilgore College.  She graduated from Midwestern State in 1984 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/Sociology, then earned a Master of Education in Counseling from MSU in 1989.  She earned her doctorate of education from the University of North Texas in 2001. 

Brenda says that her life has been intertwined with MSU from her undergraduate days, through graduate school, and during the 23 years she held various positions at Vernon College, where she worked with MSU staff to help students transition into the four-year college environment. She came full circle when Dr Michaelle Kitchen, Chair of counseling, hired her as an adjunct faculty member for the West College of Education. 

She thanks MSU for providing her with the foundation for her doctoral studies and the career that she built those studies. She met her husband, Dennis, when they were both MSU students, and credits him for her success.

Brenda was named Distinguished Alumna for the West College of Education in 2006.


Dillard College of Business Administration   watch video 

Teresa Pontius Caves recently retired as president of the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization that grew from assets of $5.3 million in 2003, when Teresa began her work there, to $64 million in 2017.

Teresa, who has fond memories of homecoming and leading the torchlight parade, remains active with MSU Texas by serving on the Dillard College of Business Administration’s Advisory Board and the Strategic Planning Advisory Group. She also co-authored the MBA marketing plan, and served on the Speakers and Issues committee. She has held many other advisory board positions at MSU Texas and with community organizations. In 1988, she was named Volunteer of the Year for her work with First Step.

She graduated cum laude in 1987 with a BBA in marketing and was named Outstanding Marketing Student. She earned a master’s degree in human resource development-counseling in 1998.


Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities & Social Sciences   watch video

Christy Flatt is Associate Professor of Sociology at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from MSU Texas in 1990, a master’s in sociology from Texas Tech University, and a Ph.D. from Mississippi State University.

Christy says that her time at MSU Texas played a defining role in her professional and personal development, from the teaching style she learned from Dr. Emily LaBeff to the insight on professional matters she learned from Dr. Robert Clark. To students who are struggling, she shares the perspective that Dr. Larry Williams shared with her when she struggled. Those professors also instilled in her a commitment to mentor students. Christy maintains contact with MSU Texas, even teaching a London study abroad class this summer.

At MSU Texas, Christy was Outstanding Social Science Student in 1990, and Outstanding Junior Woman and Outstanding Freshman Woman.


Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts   watch video

Robert Horvath is Associate Professor of Painting at the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He graduated cum laude with a BFA from MSU Texas in 1999. He earned his MFA from the University of Illinois in 2002.

When Robert thinks of Midwestern State, it is the people who come to mind – professors who became mentors and friends who became his family. Robert came to MSU Texas from Eastern Europe soon after the fall of communism in the early 1990's, and says that he was taken under the wings of many here who guided him through his art education. Those who reached out and were supportive include art professors Liz Yarosz-Ash, Richard Ash, and Gary Goldberg.

Robert’s paintings have been included in solo and group exhibitions across the country. He recently received the New Frontiers Creativity and Scholarship Grant from Indiana University.


Gordon T. & Ellen West College of Education   watch video

Vic Trilli played basketball for MSU Texas when the team made its only appearance in a national tournament final game. He transitioned to his first coaching position under Gerald Stockton, then held coaching positions at The University of Texas and the University of North Texas before becoming athletic director at Garden City Community College. He is now Vice President of Student Affairs at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas.

Vic says he owes his professional career in coaching and education to Stockton, who, along with his wife Kathy, convinced him to pursue his master’s degree.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from MSU in 1976, he earned his Master of Science in Education in 1978. Earlier this year, Vic was named to the Wichita (Kansas) Sports Hall of Fame. He is also listed in the Sheridan College Hall of Fame and the Mid Mon Valley Pennsylvania All Sports Hall of Fame.


McCoy College of Science, Mathematics & Engineering   watch video 

Carrie-Anne Taylor is an engineer at Echometer in Wichita Falls. She has also served Echometer as an equipment and software trainer, product quality tester, internal auditor, and project manager.

During her senior year at MSU Texas, the opportunity to present an undergraduate research project at the national level raised Carrie-Anne’s confidence to a level that carried into her professional life and led to recognition as a technical expert in her field.

Carrie-Anne earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from MSU Texas in 2009, and was the McCoy School of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering Student of the Year for 2008-2009. She loves the MSU campus and remains active here as a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for the McCoy School of Engineering, and participates in engineering camps and other events presented by the University


Robert D. & Carol Gunn School of Health Sciences & Human Services   watch video  

Berton Stengel graduated from Midwestern University in 1972, a member of the second class of students to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Texas Woman’s University in 1977.

While at Midwestern University, Berton worked several full-time jobs to pay for his education, including working the night shift at Wichita Falls State Hospital. Nursing was Berton’s second choice for a career – he intended to become a science teacher. After his retirement from the Temple VA Medical Center in 1998, he earned a teacher certification and taught science for the Penelope (Texas) Independent School District until his second retirement in 2010, fulfilling his original plan from 1965.

Berton received a Governor’s Volunteer Award for his 25-year service with the McLennan County 4-H. In 2001 he was named Educational Service Center Region 12 Science Teacher of the Year.


Alumni Association SPIRIT Award
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Whether it’s an alumni, community, or athletic event (especially women’s basketball!), you can find Barbara Ramos Merkle present, supporting MSU Texas or cheering for her Mustangs.

Barb graduated from MSU with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1976, then earned a Master of Physical Education in 1980. She came to work at MSU in 1983 as Assistant Director of Admissions, and retired in 2013 as Director of Admissions Emerita. During her 30-year tenure, Barb served as an advisor and mentor to hundreds of students, instilling into them her love for MSU. As a member of the President’s Excellence Circle and the Mustangs Athletic Club, she promotes her University with the same love she always has.

An acronym for Service, Pride, Initiative, Responsibility, Integrity, and Teamwork, the SPIRIT Award is given each year to an individual selected by the MSU Alumni Association to recognize loyalty, spirit and service.