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Class Notes, Spring 2016

Find out what your fellow alums have been doing.

People  |  Apr 28, 2016  |  By Diane Russell

The Roper family


Diana Armstrong Winn, ’68 BA English, is celebrating her fifth year as operations manager of Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada. She is engaged to fellow Basic High School graduate John Stephens. Her hobbies include Zumba, Pilates, and turbo kickboxing.


Irena Scott, ’72 MS Biology, is retired. She worked as both the chief operating officer of AlumPolaris and as a professor at St. Bonaventure University. She is the author of several recently published books, including Females Going Ape: Generating Life and Civilization, which shows the female as the principal actor in both the advancement and evolution of the earth’s organisms. In the book she discusses how females survive better than males, how most organisms are female, how most can reproduce without a male, and how they are the natural leaders and innovators. She also is the author of Uncle: My Journey with John Purdue, which is about the founder of Purdue University. Photography is her hobby. She lives in Lewis Center, Ohio.

Meri Shadley, ’72 MA Psychology, is a marriage and family therapist in private practice. She teaches and directs the collegiate recovery program at UNR. Recently, she attended the Washington, D.C., Rally for Facing Addiction and provided public advocacy for the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (pictured with U.S. Sen. Harry Reid). Her hobbies include needlepoint, outdoor activities, and attending musical and cultural events. The Reno resident is married and has one grown son.

Jack Werner, ’72 BA Political Science, is immediate past director of the D.C. government energy office. He also has served as executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Power, senior fellow at the Climate Institute, assessor for the American National Standards Institute, and as energy/environment advisor to the International Renewable Energy Agency. He is working to create a regional sustainable energy standards/certification program for 15 nations in West Africa. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Gary Brown, ’73 BS Hotel Administration, is an adjunct professor at Bryant & Stratton College where he teaches Introduction to Hospitality Management, tutors, and assists in the college library. His hobbies are travel, woodworking, and classic cars. He owns a 1961 Triumph TR-3 and a 1991 Acura NSX. He and his wife, Suzie, have two sons, Tyler and Travis. The family lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Lynette Davis Quigley, ’73 BA Math, ’75 MS Math, decided to become a teacher after being assigned to teach Math 126/127 when she was a graduate student. She spent 30 years teaching math for the Clark County School District before retiring three years ago. She has come full circle and is teaching math at UNLV on a part-time basis. She is married and has three sons, all of whom have chosen mathematics careers.

Van Nickerson, ’74 BS Business Administration, is embarking on a major project to spearhead a black Disneyland-type theme park in a small town in Mississippi. An African village depicting life before slavery will be featured. The theme park will include hotels, restaurants, casinos, a housing development, a movie studio, and an airport. He plays Latin percussion instruments professionally and lives in Lebec, California.

Ronald Hedger, ’79 BA Psychology, is an associate professor of family medicine and associate dean and director of the Center of Professional Practice Simulation in Clinical Education at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine. He received his osteopathic medical degree from the Osteopathic Medical School at Western University of Health Science. Television production is his hobby. He and his wife, Karen, have been married 30 years and have three children and two granddaughters. The couple lives in Henderson.


Lois Grosser, ’80 Bachelor of Fine Arts, is an artisan metalsmith designing jewelry with inspiration from her southwestern experiences. She also has had successful careers as a fine artist and as a graphic designer. NASCAR is her hobby. She has three children and eight grandchildren. She lives in North Fort Myers, Florida.

Charisse Ciambrone, ’82 BA Sociology, ’10 Master of Education, has worked at the College of Southern Nevada since 2007 teaching English as a Second Language. She also teaches math to adults who are studying for high school equivalency exams. She earned a master of education degree at Sierra Nevada College.

George Tuzzeo, ’82 BA Music, is a musician who also works in piano sales. He lives in Paramus, New Jersey.

Marina Abodeely Jezzini, ’84 BS Hotel Administration, has been a real estate broker/sales associate in Las Vegas for 23 years. She works with Re/Max Benchmark and recently received the Re/Max Hall of Fame Award. She also received a Top Nevada Premier Agents Award from Her 14-year-old son, Andre, attends UNLV sporting events and proudly wears Rebel garb. Her hobbies include hiking at Red Rock, yoga, watching Andre’s baseball games, and traveling.

Kathi Kulesza, ’85 BS Hotel Administration, is a mind/body transformation coach and professional speaker. She supports female executives as they commit to making healthier choices — eating healthy, moving more, and acknowledging their wants. She began her wellness journey at age 45 when she decided to do something about her weight and health. She joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, and lost 40 pounds. Her hobbies are working out, volunteering at church, beading, reading, and hanging out with her three-pound furry best friend.

Thomas Ware II, ’86 BA Political Science, this year became a name partner in the law firm of Kulik, Gottesman, Siegel & Ware in Sherman Oaks, California. His practice has focused on representation of nonprofit homeowners associations, their volunteer directors and officers, and their property managers. He was one of the attorneys of record for the prevailing parties in the landmark California Supreme Court case Nahrstedt v. Lakeside Village Condominium Association. He has been awarded Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer-review rating and has been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers. He and his wife, Marnie, have been married since 1993 and have two children, son Kellen and daughter Christine. The family lives in Los Angeles.

Jon Bayer, ’87 BS Hotel Administration, is a middle school English teacher. He has been teaching for 16 years. Before that, he spent 12 years in the hospitality industry, primarily working in restaurant management. His hobbies are hiking, fishing, biking, weight training, jogging, reading, travel, and gourmet cooking. He and his wife, Jenny, have six sons between them. The family lives in Salinas, California.

Leon Symanski, ’87 BS Business Administration, ’94 Master of Public Administration, ’01 JD, is an attorney with Craig P. Kenny & Associates. He worked in the hotel/casino industry for 10 years before becoming a member of the charter class of UNLV’s Boyd School of Law. He was a Runnin’ Rebel basketball player from 1984 to 1987. His hobbies are golfing, reading, and horse racing. He and his wife, Lisa Gentile Symanski, ’87 BA Communication Studies, have a daughter, Noelle.

Steve Thornock, ’87 BA Elementary Education, has been a tax lien investor since 1995. Classic arcade games are his hobby. He and his wife, Joanna Gleason Thornock, ’85, have four children, including son Terry Thornock, ’14 BA Philosophy; daughter Julianna; son Jesse Thornock, currently a UNLV sophomore majoring in graphic design; and son Cody, a high school senior who is considering attending UNLV in the fall.


Eric Berman, ’90 BS Hospitality Administration, ’10 Master of Hospitality Administration, is regional vice president for BJ’s Restaurants. He oversees 40 restaurants in 15 states. He has been with the company for eight years.

David Deuel, ’90 BA Criminal Justice, retired in 2011 after 20 years with the Nevada department of public safety. He says he had outstanding coworkers and also met a number of interesting individuals during his career as a parole and probation officer. He and his wife relocated to northern Michigan after his retirement. They enjoy the four seasons and not being able to even see a neighbor’s house from their own. Their black lab, Bella, keeps them busy as she loves the snow, the lakes, hiking, and chasing tennis balls. They live in Indian River.

Sami Khal, ’90 BS Business Administration, an assistant general manager at Costco Wholesale, is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is seeking the Nevada District 3 seat. His wife, Karen Brown Khal, ’93 BS Nursing, is a nurse. They have three daughters: Courtney Kahl, ’15 BS Elementary Education, Kathleen Kahl, a UNLV sophomore majoring in social work, and Janie Kahl, a UNLV freshman who has not yet chosen a major. His hobbies include target shooting and discussing politics. The family lives in Henderson.

Brian Boehringer, ’91, will be a producer of the film Swing & a Miss: The Taylor Hooton Story. The movie tells the story of a teenage pitcher during the height of the steroid era in Major League Baseball. Between 1995 and 2004, Boehringer played for the Pittsburg Pirates, San Diego Padres, Yankees, and San Francisco Giants, and won a World Series ring in 1996 while pitching for the New York Yankees. One of his college highlights was pitching UNLV’s second no-hitter on May 5, 1990, against University of the Pacific.

Christopher Edwards, ’91 BS Business Administration, is a professor in UNLV’s theatre department and serves as artistic director of Nevada Conservatory Theatre. He spent 20 years in New York City as an actor, director, and producer. He also held a variety of positions at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, including stints as director of education, director of apprentice training, and associate artistic director. He also has taught at Bennington College in Vermont and at Montclair State University in New Jersey. He is married, has one child, and lives in Henderson.

Matt Engle, ’91 BS Business Administration, is a commercial insurance broker with Cragin & Pike. A past president of the UNLV Alumni Association, he recently was elected as an executive board member with the Downtown Las Vegas Alliance. He will serve as chair of the membership committee and will assist in the mission of promoting continued growth downtown and ensuring the area is clean and safe.

Dennis Gradillas, ’91 BS Hotel Administration, is regional operations manager for American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW). After many years working in the hotel and casino industry, he switched careers five years ago, going to work for ABHOW, which serves older adults in health care and housing. He recently moved to California to work at the company’s home office. He now is pursuing a master’s degree in gerontology. His hobbies include coaching Little League, hiking, biking, and the occasional triathlon. He says he, his wife, and their family are enjoying adapting to the Northern California lifestyle. They live in Brentwood.

Alfred McDonald, ’91 BA Criminal Justice, in February became a judge pro tem in Marana Municipal Court in Arizona. He lives in Tucson.

John Hagen, ’92 BS Chemistry, is a professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is married to Agnes Wong, ’92 BS Biochemistry.

Shawn Danoski, ’93 BS Construction Management, is founder and CEO of DC Building Group, a commercial general contractor firm that he began in 2001. The company’s portfolio includes restaurant-retail, religious, nonprofit, industrial, and office projects. The company has received multiple awards, including the 2010 Contractor of the Year Award from the Associated General Contractors (AGC) and the 2015 JA Tiberti Spirit Award from AGC and the Nevada Contractors Association. His hobbies include pursuing motorsports with his family. He and his wife, Amber Clark Danoski, ’99 BS Education have two sons, Erik and Alex. 

Mike Essig, ’93 BS Hospitality Administration, ’05 MS Hospitality Administration, has been promoted to senior director of information technology for the Choctaw Nation’s newly created Commerce Division. He oversees IT for 21 casinos, 13 travel plazas, and a new grocery store enterprise. He lives in Durant, Oklahoma.

Christina Robinson-Swett, ’93 BA Art, has been an illustrator for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation since 1992. She began her career there through an internship arranged by UNLV’s career services program and became a full-time employee once she graduated. She has done illustration work for various federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy. Among her career highlights have been eight Hoover Dam commemorative medallions, the Hoover Dam 75th anniversary medallion and postage stamp, and event material for a celebration marking an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. Her hobbies include traveling and painting with watercolors and oils. She is married with three daughters. The family lives in Henderson.

Nancy Banner, ’94 BS Hotel Administration, is a chef and founder of the Holistic Kitchen. She says she helps busy people (who know they should be eating better) create simple, healthy food that tastes as if they are cheating. She uses whole food and maximizes nutritional content to create recipes that enhance wellness and maximize the quality of life. She is a member of the American Culinary Federation and the American Personal and Private Chefs Association. She is a certified ServSafe Food Manager. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Tim Delaney, ’94 PhD Sociology, is serving his third term as chair of the sociology department at the State University of New York, Oswego. He was promoted to full professor in 2014. His 16th book, Sportsmanship: Multidisciplinary Perspectives, was released in February. He served as editor and contributing author. His hobbies include sports and travel. In November he made his fifth trip to Russia where he presented a paper at a sportsmanship conference in Moscow.

Andre Lagomarsino, ’95 BA English, has launched a new law firm, Lagomarsino Law. The firm will continue to support clients on both commercial and personal legal matters across key practice areas, including business litigation and business law, family law, employment law, personal injury, criminal defense, and civil rights.  He lives in Henderson with his wife and two daughters.

Sara Mallett Leoni, ’96 BA Communication Studies, is CEO of Rafter, a college course materials management company that focuses on making education more affordable, accessible, and effective for college students. She says the company has saved 2.7 million students more than half a billion dollars on textbooks. Previously, she held leadership roles at several companies, including Sharpcast, Cafepress, Yahoo!, and E*Trade. While at UNLV she played center field for the softball team and was named a Second Team All American. 

Kevin Loudon, ’96 BA Philosophy, is chief general counsel for Max Money Enterprises. Camping, hiking, off-roading, and fishing are his hobbies. He lives in Victoria, Texas.

Timothy Gupton, ’97 BA Romance Languages, recently was promoted to the rank of associate professor of Spanish linguistics at the University of Georgia, with tenure effective this fall. He has worked at the university since 2010. He earned his master’s degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and his doctoral degree at the University of Iowa.

Brian Schorgl, ’97 BS Hotel Administration, has been the owner/operator of O’Neill’s Restaurant and Bar in Leawood, Kansas for the past 16 years. His hobbies include playing golf, traveling, and going to the lake. He and his wife, Colleen, have three children, Kaitlin, 4; Francie, 2, and Jack, 8 months.

Karmen Smith, ’97 Master of Social Work, is a licensed clinical social worker with a doctoral degree in divinity/pastoral counseling. She is a trauma specialist and ordained minister. She has more than 20 years of experience working in the field of child welfare with the Clark County department of family services. She was the assistant pastor of the University Church Institute of Metaphysics for many years and is the founder of NSITEFUL, which published her book, The I AM Solution: Simple Practices to Transform FEAR back to LOVE. Her hobbies are public speaking and watching inspirational movies. She lives in Henderson.

Gabrielle Pullen, ’97 BA French, recently completed her master’s degree in writing at the Pan-European MFA program at Cedar Crest College. She will obtain her certificate in teaching this spring. Having taught movement as a Feldenkrais practitioner, she has a special interest — and training — in how learning functions. She recently completed her creative thesis in the form of an historical novel titled The Witches of East Lothian. She lives in Bothell, Washington, having recently relocated from Northern California with her horse.

Paul Villaluz, ’97 BS Civil Engineering, ’06 MS Civil Engineering, is a project engineer II with Manatee County (Florida) department of public works. He received the Coordinating Council Best Project Award at the 2015 annual meeting of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). The award recognizes the best technical product resulting from work developed, completed, and sponsored by a council in the previous calendar year. As chair of the Traffic Engineering Council Committee, he served as lead author for the ITE informational report titled Sight Triangle and Corner Clearance Policies at Intersections and Driveways. He lives in Bradenton.

Janet Hollinger, ’98 BS Biological Sciences, has worked for UNLV as a transition advisor at the Charleston campus of CSN since 2012. Before that she was an academic advisor in UNLV’s College of Sciences. She has been married for more than 28 years and is the mother of two daughters, Melinda Hollinger, a UNLV senior majoring in multidisciplinary studies, and Heather. Her hobbies include animal rescue, reading, women’s soccer, and NASCAR.

Huichia “Jessica” Jen, ’99 BS Hotel Administration, ’03 MBA, is general manager of the Westgate Flamingo Bay Resort. She joined Westgate Resorts in 2007 as the regional controller to assist the company in building its first project on the Las Vegas Strip, PH Towers by Westgate. After that project was acquired by another company in 2012, she transitioned her role to resort operations in addition to her financial role.


Jason Aaron Goldberg, ’00 BFA, is the producer of the independent feature film The Three Es, which follows the Dunn family struggles as members regain their balance and composure after the middle and only male child has been severely injured in Iraq. The film won the Audience Choice Feature Film Award at the 2015 Laughlin International Film Festival, Best Feature Film Award at the Manhattan Film Festival, and a number of awards at the 2016 Idyllwild and Cinema on the Bayou film festivals. Goldberg also wrote and directed the film, which was coproduced with Joseph Campanale, ’01 BFA. The film features Jon Paul Raniola, ’00, and Vanessa Elgrichi, ’11.

Rosemary  Lato, ’01 BS Business Administration, is a certified public accountant. She recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Petrova & Pearson, CPAs. She lives in North Las Vegas.

Michele Lucero Villagran, ’01 BS Business Administration, is a lecturer in the library & information sciences department at the University of North Texas.

Magdalena Zepeda, ’02 MA Communication Studies, this year was promoted to assistant principal at Central Middle School in Riverside, California. Her hobbies are long-distance running, mentoring, reading, and writing. She lives in Coachella.

Joseph Baker, ’03 BS Physics, is in his second year as an assistant professor of theoretical and computational chemistry at the College of New Jersey, a four-year undergraduate institution in Ewing. He received his doctoral degree in physics from the University of Arizona and held a postdoctoral position at the University of Chicago in the department of chemistry and the Center for Multiscale Theory and Simulation. His hobbies are playing the violin, reading science fiction, and walking and hiking with his dog.

Jon Castagnino, ’03 BA Communication Studies and BS Sports Injury Management, is an instructor in UNLV’s Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies. He launched the “Rebel Report,” a student-run TV and social media platform covering UNLV athletics and Las Vegas events. He began his career as a student journalist for the show UNLViews, broadcast from the basement of the Flora Dungan Humanities building, and went on to write and produce for TV news in Wyoming and Texas. Most recently, he worked as a sports anchor/reporter at FOX5 News in Las Vegas.

Bryce Clutts, ’03 BS Business Administration, is president of DC Building Group where he oversees strategy implementation, customer relations, and business operations. The company has received multiple awards, including the 2013 Safest Contractor of the Year Award, the 2010 Contractor of the Year Award from the Associated General Contractors (AGC), and the 2015 JA Tiberti Spirit Award from AGC and the Nevada Contractors Association. He is president of the Nevada Contractors Association, immediate past president of the Associated General Contractors of Las Vegas, and a recipient of the Juliette Low Pearl Lifetime Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada. He was appointed to the Nevada State Public Works Board and to the city of Henderson’s Development Services Oversight Committee. He and his wife, Tonya, have four children, Aubrianna, Austin, Andrew, and Addison. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, and riding horses.

Cynthia De La Torre, ’03 BA Communication Studies, is the communications manager for a $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that is housed at UNLV. The grant involves 13 institutions in seven states. She handles all social media and communications for the grant, including campaigns for its various funding mechanisms. Each year she organizes a meeting for 200 scientists and faculty members across the Mountain West. An advocate for immigration, prison reform, and higher education, she facilitates a support group for women coping with incarcerated family members. Her hobbies include hiking, cycling, reading, and networking. She has an 11-year-old daughter.

Brett Hughett, ’03 BS Hotel Administration, recently was promoted to regional manager, West Coast, for Oakwood Worldwide’s property management division. The company is a corporate housing provider and residential property management company. He oversees its eight West Coast properties and the continued growth of its property management portfolio. 

Carole Petricek, ’03 BS Business Administration, received her certified public accountant license from the state of Washington in February. She lives in Spokane.

Melissa Waite, ’03 BA Psychology, ’07 MBA, ’07 JD, recently was announced as a shareholder for the law firm of Jolley Urga Woodbury & Little. She practices primarily in the areas of business and real estate. She also focuses on business and privilege licensing, including liquor licensing, gaming, and medical marijuana establishment licensing. She is a member of the Boyd School of Law’s Dean’s Council and its Alumni Leadership Circle.

Hilarie Hicks Robison, ’04 MA Ethics and Policy Studies, is founder and owner of Legacy Tale, which helps customers leave a legacy for loved ones by capturing and sharing personal family histories. The company’s products combine photos and narratives of memories with video and audio. She lives in Logandale.

Michael Rossolo, ’04 BS Hotel Administration, ’12 MS Hotel Administration, has been promoted to director of revenue management at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort and Spa on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The hotel is undergoing a major renovation with the goal of making it one of the premiere resorts on the island and a flagship Marriott resort. He has worked for Marriott International for 15 years. He lives in Kihei.

Irene Sereno Wandtke, ’04 BS Business Administration, is a certified public accountant and a director with Gerety & Associates. Her main focus is in the tax arena, working with high wealth individuals and all types of businesses. She also deals with foreign tax issues as well as gift and estate taxes. Previously, she worked for McGladrey & Pullen. She describes herself as a Disney freak who visits Disneyland about three times a year. She also is a crafter who enjoys participating in holiday craft shows. She is married to Richard Wandtke, ’89 BS Business Administration.   

Aurora Buffington, ’05 BS Nutrition Sciences, ’08 MS Exercise Physiology, has been a health educator for the Southern Nevada Health District since 2008. She focuses on increasing access to healthy food in the community through policy, systems, and environmental change. President of the Nevada Dietetic Association, she is a licensed dietitian. She now is pursuing a doctoral degree in public health at UNLV.

Blake Gross, ’05 JD, is a partner with the law firm of Wood, Smith, Henning & Berman. He also serves as a member of the alumni board for UNLV’s Boyd School of Law.

Judith Perry, ’05 MS Nursing, has been a hospice and palliative nurse practitioner for a large health care system since 2008. She developed the position herself. She lives in Boise, Idaho.

Beth Rosenblum, ’05 JD, is a partner with the law office of Mushkin & Rosenblum and serves as a pro tem domestic violence commissioner in the family division of Clark County District Court. A three-time Ironman finisher, she lives in Henderson.

Melissa Rothermel Biernacinski, ’06 BA Journalism and Media Studies, celebrated her 10th year at local marketing/public relations firm Imagine Communications in 2015. She is married to Marek Biernacinski, ’05 BA Communication Studies. He is president and CEO of Words by a Pro, a company that was honored at the Las Vegas Digital Media Awards by being named Best Business Blog for the second year in a row.

Vida Chow, ’06 MS Hospitality Administration, is the talent manager for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Asia Pacific. She describes herself as a foodie and lists yoga, fashion, and style as being among her hobbies. She lives in Hong Kong.

Linasha “Lin” Smith Jerome, ’06 BS Liberal Arts, ’12 JD, is associate director of admissions and financial aid at the Boyd School of Law. Previously, she served as director of health and family engagement with United Way of Southern Nevada. She is the founder of Ladies Who Dine and its subsidiary, Candles for a Purpose. The first is a philanthropic social society, while the second involves collecting recycled champagne bottles, converting them into scented candles, and donating some of the proceeds from their sales to local charities. Her hobbies include Pilates, traveling, trying new restaurants, and planning events and social gatherings. She and her husband, Stephen Jerome, ’03 BS Hotel Administration, have three dogs, Vegas, Mr. Big, and Kingston, and a Russian tortoise named Valentino.

Brandon Burk, ’07 MFA Theatre Arts, is a professional actor with 25 years of experience. He also has worked as an instructor and coach of acting, dialects, speech, and stage combat for numerous shows on the Las Vegas Strip, at the Nevada Conservatory Theatre, and at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, as well as with private students since 2004. He formerly was a guest artist and adjunct faculty member at High Point University, artistic director of the Onyx Theatre and Off-Strip Productions, and a member of the acting company at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. He is creating a one-man show titled Invention. He lives in Los Angeles.

Adrian Huerta, ’07 BS Human Services, is completing his doctoral degree in education at UCLA where he studies college access for underrepresented student populations. He recently was awarded the American Educational Research Association’s Minority Dissertation Fellowship to support his final year of graduate studies. He lives in El Monte.

T.J. Milner, ’07 BS Business Administration, is a partner at McBride & Milner CPAs. He is a certified public accountant with expertise in tax preparation and planning for small and large business owners. His hobbies include smoking (as in barbecue), golf, softball, bicycling, traveling, and watching UNLV sports. He and his wife, Alyson, have a new baby daughter, Hailey Ann Milner, aka “HAM.” The family lives in Henderson.

Darren Paulson, ’07 BS Computer Science, is director of telecommunications at UNLV. He began his UNLV career as a student worker, first at the Barrick Museum and then in inventory control. After graduation he became a full-time UNLV employee, working in an IT infrastructure support position. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Rebecca Arbor Paulson, ’07 BS Computer Science, who works in UNLV’s office of information technology. His hobbies include camping, working on the house, driving 4x4s, and playing first person shooters. The couple and their two children live in Logandale.

Pj Perez, ’07 BA Journalism and Media Studies, is digital content editor for Caesars Entertainment Corp. where he focuses on content marketing. He also is the bass player for the indie rock band Moonboots, which released its debut EP in March. He is married to Sara Gorgon, a student in UNLV’s MBA program and also director of communications for the Lee Business School.

John DeAvila, Jr., ’08 BS Nutrition Science, is a U.S. Air Force veteran with 15 years of experience as a clinical laboratory scientist. He now is studying to be a certified sports nutritionist. He wants to work with athletes to help them with dietary issues. He says he discovered that nutrition is his real passion in life. He hopes to be his own boss someday. Training to compete in triathlons is his hobby.

Erik Kludasch, ’08 BA Journalism and Media Studies, ’11 BA Philosophy, traveled last summer to Borneo to study model community-based efforts to preserve Bornean species along the Kinabatangan River in Sabah (East Malaysia). A sixth-grade teacher at Victory Prep Academy in Denver, he took the graduate course in pursuit of his master’s degree from Miami University’s global field program.

Dominique Worthen Braxton, ’09 BS Business Administration, is a doctoral candidate in marketing at the University of California, Irvine. She is married to James Braxton, ’10 BA Communication Studies.

Jeremy Burr, ’09 BS Business Administration, recently was promoted to vice president at Valuation Research Corporation where he handles a variety of business valuation services for corporate financial reporting, mark-to-market valuations of private equity and hedge fund’s illiquid securities, and tax planning valuations for individuals. His hobbies include squash, snowboarding, rock climbing, comedy shows, and traveling. He and his wife, Stephanie Beadle Burr, ’08 BA Economics, enjoy good food and wine, movies, and watching UNLV men’s basketball games. She also works in the professional service industry. The couple lives in downtown Chicago.

Matthew Cooney, ’09 BA Spanish, is a doctoral candidate in the higher education administration program at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. He works in the office of multicultural affairs with academic success programs for racially and ethnically diverse students. Previously, he worked as a senior academic advisor at Florida International University. He earned a master’s degree in higher education from Loyola University Chicago.

Jeffrey Lavigne, ’09 BA Communication Studies, ’11 MA Communication Studies, ’15 JD, has joined the litigation department in the Las Vegas office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. His practice will focus on commercial litigation and will include assisting business clients in litigation disputes involving trial and arbitration. Previously, he taught public speaking at the College of Southern Nevada. He volunteers with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southern Nevada.

Christopher Lourdes, ’09 BA Interdisciplinary Studies, is general manager of RMF Printing Technologies. His hobbies are traveling, snowboarding, and yoga. He lives in New York, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Alain Monroy, ’09 BA Political Science, served six years of active duty with the U.S. Army. He recently transitioned to the corporate sector. He hopes to go back to school next year to begin MBA studies. He lives in Phoenix.

Oliver Morowati, ’09 BS Hotel Administration, worked at the Eiffel Tower restaurant while at UNLV and says he was able to learn the business from the inside out, working in every position and making him a better manager for the future. He describes himself as a huge wine geek and tequila aficionado. His hobbies include off roading, rock crawling, hunting, and fishing.


Shawna Richardson Elliott, ’10 BS Recreation & Leisure Studies, ’13 MS Hotel Administration, is a class A PGA professional specializing in golf instruction for players of all ages and skill levels. She is a full-time instructor at Rhodes Ranch Golf Club. Additionally, she is certified by the Titleist Performance Institute and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Dedicated to providing an individualized approach to instruction, she tailors lessons to a student’s goals and natural capabilities. Previously, she and her husband Andrew “Ace” Elliott, ’10 BS Recreation & Leisure Studies, spent two years working at CordeValle Golf Club in Northern California. He is a PGA member who works as an assistant golf professional at the Wynn Golf Club. Their hobby is cheering on the Denver Broncos.

Jason LaFrance, ’10 MBA, recently started with KPMG as a senior financial analyst. He lives in Los Angeles.

Panagiote Tsolis, ’10 BS Business Administration, ’14 MBA, is a senior industry specialist for VizExplorer. He also is a member of the EMBA Alumni Association Board.

Leisl Carr Childers, ’11 PhD History, is an assistant professor of history at the University of Northern Iowa. She also is the author of The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin (University of Oklahoma Press). In the book she shows how different constituencies worked to fill the presumed “empty space” of the Great Basin with a variety of land-use regimes that overlapped, conflicted, and ultimately harmed the environment and the people who depended on the region for their livelihoods. She looks at the conflicts that arose from the intersection of an ever-increasing number of activities, such as nuclear testing and wild horse preservation, and how Great Basin residents have navigated these conflicts.

Saman Hashtroudi, ’11 DDM, is a dentist practicing in Las Vegas.

Megan Hutton, ’11 BS Hotel Administration, recently was promoted to general manager of the new Guy Fieri (’90 BS Hotel Administration) restaurant, El Burro Borracho, at the Rio All-Suite Resort & Casino. She also is a master’s student in UNLV’s Harrah College of Hotel Administration and a volunteer in a UNLV mentoring program.

Camille Moody McCue, ’11 PhD Curriculum and Instruction, is director of technology innovations for the Adelson Educational Campus. She recently wrote and received funding for a multimillion dollar grant to implement a new technology innovation and integration initiative featuring a 5,000-square-foot coding, maker, and digital media space; one-to-world mobile devices for all students and teachers; and extensive teacher professional development. She recently published her seventh book, a “Dummies Junior” book, Getting Started with Coding. Her hobbies are fitness, cooking, writing, and watching basketball. She and her husband, Michael, have two sons, Carson and Ian.

Maria Roncal, ’11 BA Journalism and Media Studies, manages the social media presence for the Palms Casino Resort where her work has resulted in up to five times the return on advertising spending and has doubled the resort’s Instagram fan base in less than a year. Previously, she worked at SLS Las Vegas, earning local, national, and international marketing awards for its grand opening media strategy, and at Caesars Entertainment where she produced new media content. Her proudest personal accomplishment is losing 50 pounds. Her hobbies include travel blogging, becoming trilingual by learning French, and many types of fitness activities.

Devron Brown, ’12 BA Criminal Justice, is attending George Washington University Law School. Previously, he worked on Capitol Hill.

Mitch Cain, ’13 BA History, has been teaching high school science in Oklahoma City since 2014. He also is pursing a master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins University. He lives in Edmond.

Denise Cook, ’13 MA Sociology, is president of THI Consulting and also is pursuing a doctoral degree in sociology at UNLV. Her research interests include nonprofits, volunteerism, leisure, and culture. She holds a professional in human resources designation from the Human Resources Certification Institute, a certified professional designation from the Society for Human Resources Management, and certified professional coach certification.

Tamara Prouty Day, ’13 BA Psychology, has spent the past five years working for the state of Utah as a judicial assistant to juvenile court justices. Previously, she spent more than 12 years working for the court system in Clark County. She says she misses Las Vegas and all it has to offer. She and her husband enjoy camping and hiking. Reading and travel also are among her hobbies. The couple lives in St. George.

Marjorie Poyser Landron, ’13 BA Interdisciplinary Studies, earned a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in mental health and a sub-concentration in military and veteran social work from the University of Southern California in 2015. She now is licensed by the state of Nevada as a social worker. She is a clinical social work intern for Mobile Mental Health Services. She lives in Henderson.

Shannon Lee, ’13 BS Business Administration, is an accountant for the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. Her hobbies are running, reading, playing guitar, and watching Runnin’ Rebel basketball.

Alex Salvo, ’13 BS Hospitality Management, is a casino host at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, Florida.

Mary Vail, ’13 MBA, earned a certificate of social sector leadership from Philanthropy University, an educational initiative powered by Berkeley-Haas. She is a member of the inaugural class and completed seven foundational courses to earn the certification from the eight-week online program. She is the author of What’s Your Philanthropic Footprint?, a memoir of how she merged a career in public relations with her passion for philanthropy.

Alexander Wood, ’13 BS Civil Engineering, works for the national geotechnical engineering firm Terracon Consultants. After working on large projects in the Las Vegas area, including the T-Mobile Arena and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center expansion, he transferred to the Denver office. While in Las Vegas he spent a number of years running the professional chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He is engaged to Jocelyn Rangel, ’12 BS Accounting. She is an internal auditor for Western Union. They live in Lakewood.

Jessica Briggs, ’14 BS Hotel Administration, is an event coordinator for the Downtown Project, running events out of 11 venues and reaching more than $1 million in sales in 2015. Previously, she worked as a restaurant supervisor at a lodge in Talkeetna, Alaska. Her hobbies include her dog, video games, and co-ed softball.

Noela Estrada, ’14 BA Communication Studies, is an admissions advisor at National University in Henderson. Right after graduation she worked in the food and beverage industry. She says her new job has been a great change of pace, allowing her to learn new skills and brush up on old ones. A lifelong athlete, she was a member of UNLV’s track and field team under coach Yvonne Wade. She enjoys attending all types of sporting events, spending time with family and friends, and going to the beach.

Kacilyn Schroeder, ’14 BS Business Administration, has been a marketing and communications specialist for enrollment and student services at UNLV since January 2015. From 2011 to 2014 she held many jobs as a student worker, including intramural program assistant, enrollment assistant, Rebel Recruiter, student orientation leader, and marketing and communications assistant.

Sharon Smith, ’14 MS Counselor Education, has worked at Seven Hills Behavioral Hospital and as a gospel singer at the House of Blues gospel brunch. Her hobbies include movies, singing, and traveling. 

Wendy Yang, ’14 BA Economics, is a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in Los Angeles. She misses UNLV, but enjoys yoga, ballroom dancing, and singing. She lives in San Gabriel.

Beatriz Martinez, ’15 Master of Public Administration, joined the Clark County Regional Flood Control District in August 2015 as its public information coordinator. Running and volunteering are her hobbies.

John Jayson Medema, ’15 BS Geology, joined Quantum Spatial, the largest geo-spatial science firm in the nation. He recently completed research and development of radiometric correction of 48-band hyperspectral imagery. He is planning to apply to the master of science program at Portland State University in Oregon. Hiking, camping, fishing, and fitness are his hobbies. He lives in Gresham.