The St. Mary’s University Alumni Association will honor three graduates – Erika Gonzalez-Reyes, M.D. (B.S. ’98), Doris Slay-Barber (B.A. ’74) and Stuart Parker (M.B.A. ’95) – at its annual Distinguished Alumni Dinner.
In addition, Steven M. Peña Sr. (J.D. ’95) and Claudia Fournier-Peña will receive the President’s Gateway Award for Advancement, which recognizes “an alumna or alumnus of St. Mary’s who has stepped up to lead an important fundraising initiative and/or has made a transformative gift to advance the University’s mission and promote excellence.”
The event will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, at the Omni San Antonio Hotel. The Distinguished Alumni Award is given each year to those individuals selected by the Awards and Recognition Committee of the Alumni Association.
Erika Gonzalez-Reyes, M.D., CEO and Medical Director of South Texas Allergy & Asthma Medical Professionals, was part of the St. Mary’s MARC U*STAR program, which provides underrepresented students majoring in the sciences opportunities to complete research training and work alongside faculty mentors. She said theology professors the Rev. Bob Hogan, B.B.D., and the Rev. George T. Montague, S.M., became mentors and friends. After medical school and residency, she specialized in allergy and immunology and served as section head for the Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology Division at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and helped build its allergy department. Three years ago, she opened her own private practice. As an alumna, Gonzalez-Reyes mentors pre-med students and allows them to rotate through her clinic. She serves on the Advisory Council for the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. She also works with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Texas Lyceum, CentroMed and San Antonio Food Allergy Research & Education Walk.
Stuart Parker, CEO of USAA, was an Air Force pilot for 10 years, flying missions in the first Gulf War and serving as an instructor pilot until retiring for medical reasons. He resumed his studies and earned an MBA in Finance from St. Mary’s, going on to become a Certified Financial Planner. He joined USAA in 1998 in its second class of financial planners and moved up the ranks until becoming CEO in 2015. He leads an organization with a mission to help the military community achieve financial stability; military advocacy and community volunteerism are also key issues for USAA. Parker serves on the board of directors of FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial and industrial property insurers. He is a lifetime member of the Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Military Officers Association of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Still dedicated to St. Mary’s, he spoke in the 2016 Forum on Entrepreneurship Breakfast Series and at the spring 2017 commencement ceremony.
Doris Slay-Barber, former Coordinator for Student Data Services at Northside Independent School District, attended Catholic School as a child and developed an admiration for Felician nuns. As the first in her immediate family to attend college, she was encouraged to attend St. Mary’s, where Sister Ann Semel, S.S.N.D., an English professor and artist, became a dear friend and adviser. Upon graduation, she spent 10 years as a teacher in the East Central School District. After earning her master’s, she worked for Region 20, consulting and training employees to use grading software for 17 years. Then she became Coordinator for Student Data Services at NISD. She retired in 2016, after 41 years in education. She has continued to serve St. Mary’s, on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Fiesta Oyster Bake committee and the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees. She has served on numerous boards including the Children’s Habilitation Center and Children’s Ballet of San Antonio. Currently, Slay-Barber is the president-elect of Texas Business Women, Inc.
Steven M. Peña Sr. and Claudia Fournier-Peña have shown exceptional leadership and success in fundraising in support of St. Mary’s. Peña donated $1 million to endow the first year of the School of Law’s cutting-edge Law Success Program, which includes three years of curriculum, personalized instruction and assessment. As a result, the first year of the program will be called the Steven M. Peña and Claudia Fournier-Peña First-Year Success Program. Peña called his first semester at St. Mary’s Law “transformative” and said the new Law Success Program includes exceptional staff members who are reaching out to students who are fully capable, but may need a little bit of extra help. In addition to his gift, Peña also became a practitioner-in-residence with the law school. Peña serves as the city attorney for Cotulla and special counsel for the City of Cuero. He also represents partnerships as general counsel for 3C-C4 Family LLC. Peña has practiced oil and gas law, including negotiating oil and gas leases, surface use, pipeline easement and saltwater injection agreements for his family partnerships.
St. Mary's University, founded in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in the Southwest. It offers 75 programs, including doctoral and law programs, and has a diverse student population of about 3,800 of all faiths and backgrounds. Its vision, as a Catholic and Marianist liberal arts institution, is to become one of the finest private universities in the region, a gateway for graduates to professional lives as ethical leaders in Texas, the nation and the world.