News Archives: Alumni Relations

Present and former HPU choir members invited to participate in 2019 Austria trip

BROWNWOOD – July 6, 2018 – The Howard Payne University Concert Choir, University Singers and HPU choir alumni will travel to Austria June 3-9, 2019, to perform with a larger ensemble of choristers from all over the world. All present and former HPU choir members, including alumni and those from the community who have participated, are invited to be part of this exciting opportunity.

The large ensemble in Austria will be under the umbrella of KI International Tours and the direction of Dr. John Dickson, director of choral studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Dr. Dickson was the featured clinician at HPU’s first annual Conducting Workshop held in the spring.

“There will be a few rehearsals to attend as we plan our individual concerts,” said Dr. Christopher Rosborough, director of choral activities at HPU. “However, there should be no more than four rehearsal weekends throughout the year.”

Interested alumni and community members are urged to contact Dr. Rosborough soon at or 325-649-8503 to secure their place for this event. A $200 deposit is required by August 30, 2018. Also, two Facebook pages are available to join for more information and regular updates: the HPU University Singers page and the HPU Choir Alumni page.

“Please let me know of your interest to participate so we can populate a working list of participants,” said Dr. Rosborough. “I’m so excited to be on this adventure and to connect further with our outstanding HPU alumni and community members.”

For more information, contact Dr. Rosborough at or 325-649-8503.


HPU students and alumni serve at 2018 Wyoming Youth Evangelism Conference

Wyoming photo for webBROWNWOOD – June 27, 2018 – Howard Payne University students and alumni were among a group of 13 from May First Baptist Church that traveled to Wyoming toward the end of the spring semester to serve at the state’s Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC). The event was held at College Heights Baptist Church in Casper, Wyoming.

HPU students who made the trip were junior Isaac Williams, college minister at May FBC; sophomore Eli Williams, church intern at May FBC; freshman Hannah Williams; and sophomore Abi Brown. Alumni who served were Dr. Nicholas Ewen ’02, assistant professor of theatre at HPU and music minister at May FBC; Clarrisa Ewen ’96; and Dustin Wright ’12, youth minister at Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Brownwood. Kase Cox, Taylor Cox, Josh McFarland, Wayne Snell, Linzie Wright and Bethanie Ewen, daughter of the Ewens and dual-credit student at HPU also participated.

While there, the group served in many capacities. Dr. Ewen preached during the general sessions at the conference, Eli Williams led worship and Isaac Williams spoke to students during a small-group session.

Lynda Roark, director of Wyoming YEC, invited the group to lead at this year’s conference. Roark is also the director of Mountain Top Assembly Baptist Camp in Casper, Wyoming, where members of the group have served during the past two summers.

“This group has had a huge impact on the entire state of Wyoming by encouraging, evangelizing and discipling an entire generation of Wyoming’s young Christian minds and hearts,” said Roark.

Dr. Ewen has a long-existing connection to the state, having grown up in Wyoming and attending the camp.

“It was a huge honor and wonderful experience to go back to Wyoming with a group of talented and passionate HPU students,” said Dr. Ewen.

Isaac Williams will continue to serve in Wyoming over the summer as an intern at Mountain Top Assembly Baptist Camp.

Applications are still being accepted for the fall 2018 semester at Howard Payne University ( HPU offers a variety of financial aid options, including scholarships for students from Brown County and surrounding counties. For more information about HPU, contact HPU’s Office of Admission at 325-649-8020 or by e-mail at


Cutline: HPU students and alumni were among a group that traveled to Wyoming to speak and lead worship at the state’s 2018 Youth Evangelism Conference.

HPU to host Swingin’ Stingers Band 50th reunion concert

1971-72 Swingin' Stinger BandBROWNWOOD – June 11, 2018 – Howard Payne University will host a 50th anniversary reunion concert of the university’s legendary Swingin’ Stingers Band on Sunday, July 1, at 2:00 p.m. The free concert will be presented at Mims Auditorium on the university’s campus and is open to the public.

Retired USAF Lt. Col. Doug Jackson, who is a 1972 graduate of HPU, has organized a band reunion that will culminate on Sunday with the concert.

The band will be made primarily of alumni who were in the band during Greg Berry’s tenure at HPU, and Berry will once again take the podium to direct the band for this special reunion concert. Berry was the band director from 1968-1976.

For more information, contact Jackson at or Laura Benoit, director of alumni relations, at or 325-649-8007.


Cutline: HPU’s legendary Swingin’ Stingers Band, shown in a 1972 yearbook photo, will present a concert on July 1.

Alumnus discusses how HPU set him on path to med school

TJ CounceBROWNWOOD – April 5, 2018 – T.J. Counce, a 2016 Howard Payne University graduate from Lockhart, has been accepted into the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine in San Antonio. He will begin coursework next fall upon his graduation from Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Counce, who was granted interviews at three medical schools, attributes a great deal of his success to the support he received from HPU personnel.

“The number one best thing, the biggest selling point of Howard Payne, is the faculty and staff,” he said. “It would be hard to find a more caring and dedicated group of professionals, and their mentorship has molded me into the student and learner I am today.”

At HPU, Counce was a double major in biochemistry and the Guy D. Newman Honors Academy.

“As a double major, I was able to take part in a wide range of activities and programs I would have otherwise not experienced, and these were all featured heavily in my medical school applications,” he said. “Ultimately, you must stand out, and I had the opportunity in every application and interview to elaborate about my time at HPU and in the Academy.”

He also shared in interviews about the research he conducted through the Academy and HPU’s chemistry department.

“I truly feel this contributed to my acceptance,” he said. “Beyond that, taking a full 17- or 18-hour course load every semester has allowed me to successfully navigate graduate school. I have found that what you’ve done in the past contributes to your opportunities in the future, and my time at Howard Payne and in the Academy has without a doubt contributed to the path I am currently on.”

Counce first learned of HPU through his mother who was a student at the university her freshman year.

“Although she left to be closer to family, she loved her time at Howard Payne,” he said. “She encouraged me to apply. I met with an admission counselor at a college fair in San Marcos and that really piqued my interest.”

He encourages high school students considering HPU to meet with an admission counselor and tour campus.

“If you let yourself, Howard Payne is an excellent place to not only learn, but grow,” he said. “If you find yourself succeeding in environments that offer rich discussions, experiential learning, inquisitive exploration and enthusiastic support of students, then Howard Payne is an excellent school for you to consider.”

Counce has not yet committed to a specific specialty in medicine and is looking forward to third- and fourth-year clinical rotations to further refine his calling.

“I am pursuing medicine to help people and to help those who need it the most,” he said. “Wherever I feel that I can serve that goal the best and most effectively will ultimately be my choice of specialty.”


Cutline: T.J. Counce, a 2016 HPU graduate, has been accepted into the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine in San Antonio.

HPU names Alumni Association’s El Paso Chapter 2018 officers

HPU AA EPC 2018 OfficersBROWNWOOD – April 2, 2018 – Howard Payne University recently announced the 2018 officers of the El Paso Chapter of the HPU Alumni Association. All of the officers are graduates of HPU’s El Paso Center.

The chapter’s new president is Priscilla Macias, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in criminal justice in 2006. Macias is projected to complete her Master of Business Administration degree from the Center this summer. Vice president is Roxanne Jurado, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business administration in 2009 and a Master of Business Administration degree in 2017. The chapter’s new treasurer is Irene Guerra, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian studies/practical theology in 2002 and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business management in 2006. Serving as secretary is Nelda Valerio, who earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in Christian studies/Bible and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business management, both in 2008.

Serving as mentors and advisers to the chapter officers are Blanca Gamez, who earned her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree in business management in 2009 and her Master of Business Administration degree in 2016; and Dr. Adrian Gil, who serves as director of the El Paso Center and associate professor of business.

“Faculty and staff of the HPU El Paso Center are confident the new officers of the El Paso Chapter of the Alumni Association will continue the great work started by last year’s inaugural chapter,” said Dr. Gil.

The chapter’s first general meeting was held in November 2017. Today, there are 54 official members of the organization.

Among other activities in 2017, the El Paso Chapter officers established bylaws and accounts for operations and scholarships; helped facilitate a $16,860 donation, which led to the creation of the HPU El Paso Center Scholarship; and led the El Paso Center’s participation in El Paso Giving Day. The 2018 officers are planning additional activities this year including a picnic for chapter members, current students and personnel; a community service project; and the center’s participation in the 2018 El Paso Giving Day event.

To learn more about HPU’s El Paso Center or to get involved with the El Paso Chapter of HPU’s Alumni Association, call 915-533-8500 or e-mail


Cutline: Serving as 2018 officers of the El Paso Chapter of the HPU Alumni Association are Priscilla Macias, president (top right); Roxanne Jurado, vice president (bottom left); Irene Guerra, treasurer (bottom right); and Nelda Valerio, secretary (top left).

HPU celebrates Black History Month during special Chapel service

Black History ChapelBROWNWOOD – March 19, 2018 – Howard Payne University celebrated Black History Month in February with the university’s annual Black History Recognition Chapel service.

Participants comprised of members of the African American Chapter of HPU’s Alumni Association and current HPU students, read stories and shared facts in recognition and celebration of the contributions of African Americans in society.

The program is written and directed each year by Wilbert Rogers ’75. Gladys Murray ’79 serves as the assistant coordinator and technical specialist.

“We’re so thankful for Mr. Rogers and Mrs. Murray and the tremendous amount of effort that goes into this program each year,” said Dr. Magen Bunyard, vice president for student life and dean of students. “We’re honored to come together as a university to celebrate Black History Month.”


Cutline: HPU students and members of the African American Chapter of HPU’s Alumni Association participated in the university’s annual Black History Recognition Chapel. Back row, left to right: Wilbert Rogers, Mary Collins Lawton, Ernest Kirk, Otis Fields, LJ Clayton, Ne’Lexia Galloway, Gladys Murray and Diane Jones. Front row, left to right: Shirley Sanders, Esmeralda Maldonado, Bettina Ballet, Isaac Sommers, Titus Brown and Wanda Rainey.

Recent HPU graduate discusses missionary work in Uganda

Jaclyn Bonner with graduatesBROWNWOOD – February 16, 2018 – Jaclyn Bonner, a May 2017 Howard Payne University graduate, was back on campus recently to talk with students about her mission work in Uganda. Bonner delivered a presentation on the Ugandan culture to students in a sociology class taught by Lynn Humeniuk, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology and director of HPU’s criminal justice program.

Bonner spent more than three months in Kampala, Uganda, last fall, serving as a missionary through the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Go Now Missions program. She worked with Refuge & Hope International, a faith-based organization that serves refugees who have fled to the area. The primary focus of the organization is to share the love of Christ with refugees and help equip them through English as a Second Language (ESL), General Equivalency Diploma (GED) and entrepreneurship courses. Bonner, who majored in communication studies and minored in sociology at HPU, was able to utilize what she learned in the classroom while assisting with marketing and communications, ESL teaching and tutoring.

“I believe it is important to have a missional mentality wherever I live,” she said. “However, this opportunity was particularly unique because it perfectly incorporated my calling, passion and skills. As a Christian, I am called to share Christ and make disciples. As an individual, my passion is helping marginalized people. As a recent communication studies graduate, I was able to use my skills to help make the operation run efficiently and equip refugees to succeed.”

Bonner explained to the HPU students that Uganda’s culture is much broader than she could adequately explain in the time allotted during class.

“We’re just looking at a part of a mosaic,” she said as she showed them photos of rural villages and cosmopolitan cities.

Bonner first became involved with missions through HPU’s Baptist Student Ministry and served in Brownwood, in New York City and with service projects like Beach Reach on South Padre Island.

“Each of these mission experiences were impactful and formative for me,” she said. “I learned more about spiritual discipline and the character of God. My exposure to local, state and national missions helped prepare me to serve internationally.”

While an HPU student, Bonner also had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in London and travel internationally with HPU’s Model United Nations team.

“These experiences exposed me to world events and issues, such as the refugee and migration crisis, that I have come to care about greatly,” she said. “Additionally, HPU’s Christian worldview has exposed me to ministry opportunities and encouraged me to pursue missions for this season of my life.”


Cutline: Jaclyn Bonner (center), a 2017 HPU graduate, recently served as a missionary to Uganda. She is pictured with graduates of an educational program sponsored by Refuge & Hope International.

HPU concludes Homecoming 2017 activities

HC Bonfire 2017 for webBROWNWOOD – October 26, 2017 – Approximately 1,000 individuals arrived on the Howard Payne University campus last weekend for The Yellow Jacket Express – Homecoming 2017. HPU alumni, students, personnel and guests from the community enjoyed the many Homecoming-related events on campus and around Brownwood.

Among this year’s popular events was the Homecoming parade which featured several train-themed floats. Chi Alpha Omega designed this year’s winning float with Delta Chi Rho and Pi Theta Chi earning second and third place, respectively. The bonfire and fireworks display – held this year at the Bert V. Massey II Sport Complex – also drew a large crowd.

The Class Giving Challenge, a fundraising initiative, was a new event this year.

“We publicized the challenge for a week leading up to Homecoming to see which graduating class could raise the most money for the university,” said Laura Benoit, director of alumni relations. “We were proud to name the Class of 1975 as the winner of this year’s challenge.”

Several community sponsors contributed to the overall success of Homecoming 2017. Gold-level sponsors included Brownwood-Area Chamber of Commerce, Bruner Auto Group, Visit Early Texas, Underwood’s Bar-B-Q, Wendlee Broadcasting and Willie’s T’s. Navy-level sponsors were Dr Pepper, Marsh & McLennan Agency, Mills County State Bank and United Supermarkets. White-level sponsors included Citizens National Bank, Down Home Digital, Early Blooms & Things, Painter & Johnson Financial, PF&E Oil Company, Porter Insurance Agency and TexasBank. Partner sponsors were John Woolsey Ice House and Smith & Sharpe Agencies.

HC Parade 2017 for web“Our sponsors are an integral part of Homecoming,” said Benoit. “We’re extremely grateful to our community partners.”

The Carnival of Blue and Gold, HPU’s Homecoming 2018 celebration, is slated for November 2-3, 2018. More details will be available in the months leading up to the event.

“We invite all HPU alumni and others interested in alumni events to subscribe to our monthly e-mail newsletter,” said Benoit. “We plan many fun events around the state throughout the year.”

For more information, or to subscribe to “The Gate” alumni e-mail newsletter, e-mail or call 325-649-8044.


Cutlines: HPU students do the “sting ’em” hand gesture in front of this year’s Homecoming bonfire.

This year’s winning Homecoming float was the “It is Well with My Soul-train Express,” designed by the Chi Alpha Omega sorority.

Jackson and Ramirez crowned HPU Homecoming Queen and Princess

Ramirez, Camacho and JacksonBROWNWOOD – October 20, 2017 – Djimonii Jackson, senior from Beaumont, and Angelica Ramirez, junior from Austin, were crowned Howard Payne University’s Homecoming Queen and Princess during a ceremony held today on campus.

Jackson, a business marketing major, is the daughter of Emanuel and Marsena Alexander and Mr. and Mrs. Ray Jackson. She serves as a senior class senator for the Student Government Association and as a resident assistant for HPU’s Veda Hodge Hall. Additionally, she is active with the Student Activities Council, is an honorary member of Chi Alpha Omega and plays on HPU’s women’s basketball team. She also served as a summer camp counselor at HPU. Upon graduating from HPU, she aspires to have a challenging and rewarding career that utilizes her knowledge and skills in marketing to further enhance the growth of a company.

Ramirez, the daughter of Jesus Ramirez I and Kimberly Ramirez, is a biomedical science major and cross-cultural studies minor. She is the chaplain for Delta Chi Rho, a resident assistant for Veda Hodge Hall and the outreach intern at Brownwood’s Coggin Avenue Baptist Church. Her career aspirations are to be a missionary nurse in a foreign country, helping others both physically and spiritually.

The Homecoming Court will be featured during the halftime show of the football game as HPU takes on Sul Ross State University this Saturday. The game begins at 4 p.m. at Gordon Wood Stadium.


Cutline: Angelica Ramirez, left, and Djimonii Jackson, right, were named HPU’s Homecoming Princess and Queen, respectively. They are pictured with Esther Camacho, HPU’s 2017 Coming Home Queen.

HPU’s Yellow Jacket Express to arrive on campus tomorrow

HC 17 Banner Installation for webBROWNWOOD – October 19, 2017 – Final preparations for The Yellow Jacket Express – Homecoming 2017 are underway at Howard Payne University. Onsite registration opens tomorrow at noon at HPU’s Mabee University Center.

Among the more than 30 events planned for the weekend are a bonfire and fireworks display on Friday evening. Those planning to attend this event are asked to arrive at Brownwood’s Bert V. Massey II Sports Complex by 8:30 p.m. To travel to the bonfire, please use 377 South, go past 3M and Kohler and take a left onto FM 45. The bonfire will be on the left off of FM 45.

For more information about HPU’s Homecoming and a complete schedule of events, visit


Cutline: A member of HPU’s maintenance department installs a banner at HPU’s Mabee University Center in anticipation of Homecoming 2017.