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Alumni Association Honors Distinguished Graduates

Every year, the Saint Louis University - Madrid Alumni Association honors outstanding graduates who are leaders in both their professional lives and communities at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony.

This year’s ceremony opened with a warm welcome from Patrice Burns, career services coordinator. Paul Vita, Ph.D., academic dean and campus director, discussed the connection that alumni have to the University throughout their lives and their careers, and through their Jesuit values.  Chester Gillis, Ph.D., SLU’s interim provost, then gave an inspiring speech, touching on how alumni can embrace both their “old” university memories and the new developments and changes we strive to make as faculty, staff and students.

Silvia Bayón

Silva Bayón, '01, (center) was selected as recipient of this year's Professional Achievement Award.  From her first day of classes at SLU-Madrid to her current work at the European Space Agency, Bayón has excelled in every facet of her education and career.  Above, she poses for a photo with SLU-Madrid Director and Academic Dean, Paul Vita, Ph.D., (left) and Interim Provost, Chet Gillis, Ph.D., (right). 

Katherine Espinosa, ’13, alumni association representative, announced the honorees and detailed their achievements. Gillis joined Vita in presenting the following awards:

Fernando Álvarez Antón, ’96 (B.S. in Business Administration, cum laude), received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his success in business and his commitment to the University community.

Silvia Bayón, ’01 (B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, summa cum laude, M.S. in Aerospace Engineering ‘02), received the Professional Achievement Award for her accomplishments in the aerospace industry.

Martha Laura García, ’12 (B.A. in Political Science, Ibero-American Studies Certificate, cum laude), who has devoted her career to fighting for immigrant and refugee rights, received the Emerging Leader Award.

Maureen Ann Grider, ’71 (B.A. in Spanish), received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to SLU – both in Madrid and St. Louis – and her 40+ year career as an insurance executive.

New this year was the Faculty Recognition Award. Alumni selected professor Tomás Rodríguez Cano for this honor, in recognition of his lifelong dedication to teaching history and his ability to make it come alive in the classroom.

In addition to the alumni awards, Vita presented Laura Geiser, assistant vice president for marketing and communications, with the two educational marketing awards that SLU won at Educafestival, an international educational advertising competition. The University’s 200-Years-in-One Challenge marketing campaign, which encouraged members of the SLU community worldwide to carry out 200 hours of community service in one year, earned bronze in the relational marketing category and gold in the integrated marketing campaign category.

“Honoring these accomplished alumni, and now a distinguished professor, as well, never fails to make me feel proud to be part of the SLU community,” said Burns, who organizes this annual event. “Sharing the evening with our talented alums – including a rocket scientist and a successful business person who uses the Jesuit ideals to shape his life as a professional and as a father – and colleagues from both campuses who work hard to make our university a special place – was moving."

Following the ceremony, the honorees joined faculty, staff, students, friends and family members in attendance for a reception.