2013 Outstanding Alumni Award Recipients (L-R): Justin Balich, Angelina Valencia, Yvonne Armstrong, Evgeniy Gentchev
Student Leaders (L-R): Zahira Duarte, Francisco Chairez, Natasha Norman, Brandon Mason, Victoria Chandler, Luzely Lopez
April 12, 2013
CEDAR HILL, Texas – Friday, April 5, is marked as a special day for Northwood University as four Texas graduates were honored with Outstanding Alumni Awards. Four separate categories distinguished the winners by their outstanding achievement, leadership, volunteerism and service to our country.
In a surprise twist to this year’s ceremony, leaders amongst current students were recognized. With hopes that they will one day be recognized as Outstanding Alumni, the following students were acknowledged for the professionalism they model, their cultural perspectives, participation on campus and in the community, and through exhibiting a sense of purpose in what they do: Francisco Chairez, Victoria Chandler, Zahira Duarte, Luzely Lopez, Brandon Mason, and Natasha Norman.
This year’s honorees included:
Yvonne Armstrong (2005) – Alumni Service Award
Understanding the merits of honor, courage, and commitment, Yvonne Armstrong knows what it means to strive towards success. After answering the call to service and enlisting in the United States Navy in 2003, Yvonne was stationed at Fort Worth and completed her BBA with Northwood University in 2005. While pursuing her graduate studies, Yvonne made history as the only female student in the United States to ever attend the Rotterdam School of Management’s Master of Science Maritime Economics and Logistics Program.
Yvonne applies the United States Navy’s core values mentioned above in her everyday life.
“These values coincide with the idea and ethics of my alma mater. In all that I do, I represent the place in which I was shaped into the leader I am today. I will always remain committed to excellence, the highest moral standards, integrity, and the advancement of a free market society,” said Yvonne.
In her current position as Ocean Export Manager for the American Independent Shipping Line, Yvonne handles over 10 billion dollars in ocean exports per annum, specializing in the transport of oversized, bulk, and project cargo. She also creates multi-modal transportation networks from port to port and through the hinterland regions for the largest customer base at the company.
Outside of work, Yvonne volunteers as a public speaker and mentor with the Naval Office of diversity & Inclusion, Supply Corps Diversity Outreach, Office of Naval Research and is a Chair on the Board of Directors for SeaPerch New York, an organization whose mission is to encourage youth to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Through these organizations, Yvonne hopes to build connections with key influencers across the nation to ensure the strength and success of its workforce amid demographic shifts of tomorrow’s talent.
Yvonne resides in West Hempstead, NY with her two sons Zion (13) and Christian (5).
Justin Balich (2008) – Young Alumni Volunteer Award
“Teaching life through sports” is a life motive of Justin’s that was cultivated and developed during his college years at Northwood University. As the Vice President and Director of Events for the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, Justin states “the Northwood baseball team, coaches and players included are the reason for my successes and without their support and guidance; I would not have the proper mindset to be a leader today.”
A 2008 graduate studying Entrepreneurship/Management, Justin was an active member of the Northwood Texas Knight’s baseball team, an experience where he learned many valuable lessons that he has been able to apply to both his personal and professional life. He remembers the dedication that both Coaches Jeremy Kennedy and Robert Garza had in their efforts to change the culture of the baseball program, and how they introduced a sense of pride and ownership while using a measure of accountability to drive the team to success.
In addition to his experience with the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, Justin volunteered and eventually worked for the Arizona Sports Foundation d.b.a. Fiesta Bowl for several years, serving as an both a Game Management Coordinator and Event Manager for the organization. While working seasonally for the Fiesta Bowl, Justin volunteered as a baseball coach for the Knight’s men’s team before accepting a Head Assistant coaching job with Arizona Christian University. To add to these contributions, he regularly spends his time volunteering for local organizations and assisting and attending various local charity events.
Justin continues to stay active with Northwood through his active participation in alumni events in the Phoenix area, as well as his prior volunteer work with the baseball team mentioned above. In October 2012, Justin was recognized as an Alumni of the Month and is a regular advocate of Northwood and the Northwood Idea, sharing his personal phrase “Knight for Life!” with all whom he encounters.
Justin grew up in Arizona before coming to Cedar Hill, TX to attend Northwood University. He currently resides in Glendale, AZ.
Evgeniy Gentchev (BBA 1998, MBA 2000) – Alumni Achievement Award
Evgeniy has been an integral part of Northwood University and the Texas Campus for many years. After graduating from Northwood as the Salutatorian of his class, Evgeniy worked as both an international management consultant, helping companies build global alliances and develop global supply chain networks, and as an independent consultant to several internet startup companies in California, which included developing business plans and raising several million dollars in venture capital funding.
He furthered his education in with the DeVos Graduate School of Management in Michigan, where he carried on his involvement with the Competitive Speech & Debate team by serving as the Assistant Coach. In 2001, Evgeniy was recruited to the Texas campus to teach strategy & international management, as well as start a Competitive Speech & Debate team, which he coached for 9 years.
During his time with Northwood, Evgeniy has had a great impact on the idea and sharing of the Northwood philosophy. Northwood students, faculty, staff, and alumni are familiar with the book Evgeniy co-edited, “When We Are Free,” which is taught to each new student when they arrive at the University. He is also a contributing author to the annual NU anthology “In Defense of Capitalism” and a first prize winner of the 2010 Sir John Templeton Foundation Essay for Young Faculty from the Independent Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan, scholarly research and educational organization that sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues.
Evgeniy furthered his advocacy for Northwood and free-enterprise by presenting at the 2011 Association for Private Enterprise Education Annual Conference and through his teaching experience in both China & Switzerland. “My favorite author, William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote sixty years ago: ‘I believe that if and when the menace of Communism is gone, other vital battles, at present subordinated, will emerge to the foreground. And the winner must have help from the classroom.’ Today these other vital battles have emerged to the foreground and I see my purpose at Northwood as providing that help from the classroom.”
Originally from Bulgaria, Evgeniy has permanently resided in Dallas, TX since completing his degrees in Midland, MI.
Angelina Valencia (1990) – Alumni Leadership Award
As a true entrepreneur, Angelina channeled her creativity, leadership skills, and over 15 years of experience in the fashion industry to launch her own business. It is leaders and free-market thinkers like her who keep the Northwood mission of educating of a “future leaders of a global, free-enterprise society” alive.
While a student on the Northwood Texas campus, Angelina interned with the department store Dillard’s and was an active member of the Fashion Group. This internship experience led her to her job as a Liz Edge Merchandise Coordinator for Liz Claiborne in Dallas, TX. She then worked as a Regional Merchandise Coordinator for Nygard International, where she managed the Texas Region of the New York based company, trained and managed Sales Associates and Nygard Specialists, managed an inventory of $10 million, and planned and executed a five-day personal appearance tour for Peter Nygard at Dillard’s stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and Houston.
2008 brought on a career change when Angelina became the Director of Marketing & PR for Attitudes & Attire, a non-profit agency whose mission is to build the self-esteem of women entering the workforce and to provide professional interview attire. While in this role, Angelina increased sponsorships by 8% during her first year and the volunteer base by 80% in just two years. In 2006, Angelina started her own business, Style by Valencia, which sells jewelry and gifts for men and women. At the same time, Angelina currently works as a Brand Specialist for Philosophy Skin Care, where she works with several department stores around the DFW metroplex, handling brand marketing and merchandise management.
“I definitely have Northwood to thank for propelling me into the fashion industry, especially through my internships experience with Dillard’s. It’s the exposure to these opportunities, wonderful professors, and the small classroom sizes that really make a difference in education,” said Angelina. In recent years, Angelina has assisted the current fashion program with various opportunities to expose students to real-life situations, just as she experienced herself. Angelina resides in Dallas, TX where she continues to grow her business with the loving support of her parents.