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An Evening in Purple: Tarleton honors Legacy and Distinguished Alumni Award recipients at Saturday's gala.


Seven were recognized as award winners at Tarleton State’s 2024 Gala. Pictured from left: University First Lady Kindall Hurley, Dr. Kenneth Estes, Reggie Underwood, Nancy Golden Turley, Chancellor John Sharp, Bobby Fenoglio, Cameron Gomez, Rocky Hardin and President Dr. James Hurley.

TSU Media Relations

 

Tarleton State University presented Legacy and Distinguished Alumni honors at the 2024 Gala, An Evening in Purple, Saturday night in Wisdom Gym.

 

Legacy Awards recognize individuals and supporters who exhibit the university’s core values of excellence, integrity and respect. Honorees are selected by Tarleton State President Dr. James Hurley.

 

This year’s Legacy Award recipients:



 Dr. Kenneth Estes

 

To say Dr. Kenneth Estes was active as an undergraduate at Tarleton State might be an understatement.

 

He competed for the men’s tennis team, served as a student assistant for the men’s and women’s teams, and was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, all while working toward his bachelor’s degree in education in 1993.


With his diploma in hand, he began his career as an educator, teaching and coaching in the Grand Saline Independent School District.

 

Since then, Dr. Estes has served as an Alvarado ISD teacher, coach, high school principal and assistant superintendent of administrative services. He’s now superintendent of schools.

 

Along the way, he earned a master’s degree in 1999 and a doctorate in 2009, both from Tarleton State.

 

He received the Tarleton State University Jim Boyd Instructional Leadership Administrator Award in 2007, and Drs. Mark and Pam Littleton nominated him for a Texan Club purple jacket in 2020.

 

“Our family bleeds purple,” Dr. Estes said. “We have 11 Tarleton degrees between ourselves, our kids and our daughter-in-law.”

 

Kenneth and Laura have been members of the Texan Club since 2016 and are lifetime members of the Tarleton State University Alumni Association. Both received the Tarleton State University College of Education Crystal Apple Society Award in 2022.


Nancy Golden Turley

 

As the first female student body president at Tarleton State University, Nancy Golden Turley was a trailblazer.

 

As a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma Service Sorority, Tau Beta Chi Business Chapter and the student senate, she was an example for other students to follow. She would also serve as Miss TSU during her time on campus.


She graduated summa cum laude in 1979 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting, displaying the value of hard work and a drive toward distinction.

 

“I attribute so much of who I am to Tarleton,” she said. “There were so many purple threads sewn into my life by Tarleton and the people I met there.”

 

Turley has maintained a close bond with Tarleton State through the years, serving multiple terms on the Tarleton Alumni Association board (1984-1993, 2008-2012), as president in 1990-1992 and treasurer in 2009-2012.


Currently, she is a member of the Tarleton State University Foundation, Inc.’s Board of Directors and chairs the accounting and audit committee.

 

She was named Outstanding Young Alumni in 1995, and in 2019 she and husband Dave received the All-Purple Award.



Reggie Underwood

 

Reggie Underwood didn’t travel far for his college journey, but his Tarleton State experience has taken him a long way.

 

Growing up on his family’s farming and ranching operation in Eastland County, he would graduate from Gorman High School on his way to joining his nearby university’s nationally recognized rodeo team.


At Tarleton State, he competed in bareback and saddle bronc riding while working to earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1978.

 

“I went on a campus visit and was impressed with the warmth and openness I felt here,” he said. “That was darn near 50 years ago, so that’s a pretty good memory.”

 

He thrived as a leader at Tarleton State, serving as president of the Rodeo Club for three years, taking an active role in the student senate and being elected class president of both his freshman and sophomore classes.

 

Underwood credits the Tarleton State faculty with instilling a solid work ethic and teaching him the importance of the Golden Rule.

 

“I was blessed with having some great professors who taught me the importance of treating others as you want to be treated as a professional,” he said. “You get better yourself by helping others be successful. That quality of instruction set the tone for my career.”



Distinguished Friend — Chancellor John Sharp

 

John Sharp was appointed Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System by the Board of Regents in 2011.

 

As chancellor, Sharp leads one of the largest systems in the country with an annual budget of $7.8 billion and an enrollment of more than 153,000 students at 11 System universities.

 

Additionally, under the System umbrella, there are eight state agencies. Sharp earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Texas A&M University in 1972, where he was a member of the Corps staff of the Corps of Cadets, a member of the 1972 rugby team, and he was elected student body president.


Upon graduation, Sharp was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve.

 

In 2018, Sharp was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus, an honor given to Aggies who have achieved excellence in their professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M and the communities. It is the college’s highest honor awarded to former students.



Distinguished Alumnus — Rocky Hardin

 

A 1981 graduate, Rocky Hardin is an engaged alumnus serving on the Tarleton State University Foundation, Inc.’s Board of Directors and on the Dr. Sam Pack College of Business Advisory Board.


Always generous, he and his wife created the Rocky and Tracey Hardin Endowed Scholarship for junior and senior Pack College of Business students.

 

For Rocky, there is a simple reason he devotes his time and resources to Tarleton State.

 

“The culture,” he said. “The people. Tracey and I grew up near here, so it’s kind of home to us. The Tarleton education changed our life, so we want to help others get a hand up to start their journey in life. God has blessed us, so it is important for us to give back.”

 

Rocky and Tracey are both from De Leon, a small town just 25 miles to the west of Stephenville.


They chose Tarleton because it was close enough to drive back and forth, allowing Rocky to go to school in the mornings, then to work in the afternoons and on weekends.

 

“I never expected it,” he said. “You look at your success differently when you’re in the fight all day, every day. You don’t really think about it.

 

“I never dreamed this would ever happen. I’m honored to be chosen and join the group of Distinguished Alumni.”



Outstanding Young Alumnus — Cameron Gomez

 

Cameron Gomez fits the very definition of a go-getter.

 

He graduated from Tarleton State in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and immediately set out to make his mark.

 

Fast forward seven years, and Gomez now owns Agents of Texas serving the Waco, Central Texas and DFW Metroplex markets. He is in the top 1 percent of real estate agents in the region with more than $100 million in sales volume and over 500 homes sold.

 

A thorough plan and an enviable work ethic led him to tremendous success.

 

“I understand that buying and selling real estate can be stressful,” he says. “As a full-time realtor, I work hard to lower your stress and make your experience as pleasurable as possible. I accomplish this through constant communication and by being accessible whenever you need me.”

 

He credits his time on the Tarleton State campus with helping him achieve many career goals in a short time.

 

“I have to say thank you to all my mentors,” he said. “This award is such an honor, and I’m very grateful."


Heartbeat Award — Bobby Fenoglio

 

Many supporters of Tarleton State bleed purple despite never attending the university, with Bobby Fenoglio serving as a prime example.


His ties to the university are strong, with two daughters and a son-in-law having graduated, along with his best friend, veterinarian Dr. Gary Crabtree.

 

Crabtree introduced Fenoglio to the university during a visit to the Stephenville campus in their youth.

 

It was when his daughters fell in love with the university during a campus visit that Fenoglio became a full-fledged Tarleton State supporter.

 

“I love the place just like an alum,” he said. “I love everything about it.”

 

For nearly 11 years, Fenoglio has dedicated his time and efforts to promoting Tarleton State.


His contributions have ranged from supporting academic initiatives and serving on the Tarleton Parents Association to his current membership on the Tarleton Rodeo Alumni Association board.

 

“I want to help the kids,” he said, “To push them along and help make them better. Some of the students I knew through the Parents Association still call and text me from time to time, and it means a lot.”



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