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The Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB
Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award

The Guinan Award is the highest alumni honor presented by the University of St. Thomas. Named for Fr. Vincent Joseph Guinan, CSB, the founding president of the University, the award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has remained engaged with UST after graduation and has made outstanding contributions to their alma mater and to society through professional and personal excellence and community involvement.


Maria Quintero '81

Maria Nelda Quintero '81 has received the highest honor the University of St. Thomas-Houston can bestow upon a former student – the 2023 Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB, Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award.

Alumni Board Selects Quintero and Delivers the News

This award goes to one outstanding nominee who has remained actively engaged with the University each year. The honored individual works tirelessly to make a difference both personally and professionally. Moreover, the selected former student is a superb demonstrator of the Basilian core values – goodness, discipline, knowledge and community.

The Alumni Board solicits nominations for the outstanding alumna/alumnus, reviews the applications and makes recommendations for the yearly award. Then, the directors of the Alumni Board make the final vote.

Alumni Board President Ahmed AlRawi '12, MCTM '20 delivered the news to Quintero in person. He noted the humble Quintero was surprised by the news. AlRawi said, “That is exactly why you are worthy. We notice you and your faith and service to this institution, and we love you.” The gracious Quintero said. "I do not feel worthy, and I have only tried to help those around me in whatever way I can."  

Quintero Gives Time, Talent and Treasure to UST

For Quintero, “helping” is who she is. She has a 40-year career in higher education at UST. She has served the University faithfully, first as a student worker in several capacities, then as an employee and graduating with a B.A. in Music in 1981. She also took accounting and business courses to sit for the CPA exam. She embodies selfless service and has served in several capacities across our campus during her tenure, including the Business Office in Accounts Payable and as Budget Coordinator until 2016. She now serves in the University Advancement Office as Stewardship and Budget Coordinator.

"Everyone on UST's campus knows and loves Maria!" Nominator Caroline Payne, MPPA ’22, said. "Maria is the first to say yes to any volunteer duties for UST." 

Quintero gives of her time and talent on campus and at her parish. She volunteers at Holy Name Church as a catechist teaching Sacraments (1st Communion) and Confirmation; and as a choir director at the 5 p.m. Saturday Vigil Mass. Quintero also joins the choirs at her church for significant celebrations such as Holy Week, Confirmations, First Communions, funerals, weddings and quinceañeras. In addition, she is a member of the Chapel Guild, where she serves as treasurer. 

On campus, Quintero has volunteered for over 20 years with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), a service started by a Math Professor – Maggie Hutchinson and continued by Associate Professor Ramon Fernandez at Cameron School of Business. She has also volunteered for many commencement ceremonies and served on the Staff Development Committee. Former Chaplain Fr. Michael Buentello took notice of her musical talent and enlisted her as a guitarist at Spanish Mass on campus. 

Quintero also serves as University Advancement’s prayer warrior. “If there is something that needs prayer,” Alumni Relations Director Amy Youngblood said, “I know I can go to her, and she will take that prayer request on with vigor!”

When summing up Quintero's generosity, Payne notes, "In addition to Maria giving her time and talent, she gives her treasure too. She has been a generous and faithful donor to UST for decades.”  

The Quintero sisters, who grew up in Houston on the near Northside, are a legacy family. Maria is a first-generation student. Her sister, Helen, earned a B.A. in Political Science in 1984 and is now a lawyer.

"UST is blessed to have the love and support of outstanding alumna Maria Nelda Quintero," Youngblood said. "St. Thomas gratefully recognizes her with its 2023 Rev. Vincent J. Guinan, CSB, Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award.”

Previous Award Recipients

2022- Cynthia Colbert Riley, MLA '95
2021- Professor Charles Krohn '58

2020 - Daniel Garcia '01, MBA '09

2019 - Anthony Pizzitola '73, MBA '82 

2018 - Drew Wilson '02

2017 - Kelli Kickerillo '03

2016 - Cecilia Abbott '87 '93 '94

2015 - Sgt. Charles B. Kitowski III '98 (posthumously)

2014 - Gabriel Canales '99

2013 - Ana Lisa Gonzalez '97

2012 - Frances Escriva '78 '00

2011 - Burney Hebinck '55

2010 - Vince D'Amico '52

2009 - Carole Hanna McCann '76

2008 - Sally Landram '54

2007 - Laurence Payne '7

2006 - Dr. Rebecca LeBlanc '70

2006 - Dr. Robert LeBlanc '69

2005 - Thomas Horan '66

2004 - Fr. Joseph Courtney '51

2003 - V. Gregory Hartford '68

2003 - Cheri York Hartford '69

2002 - Dr. Herbert Edmundson '69

2001 - Mary Dooley '58

2001 - Thomas Dooley '59

2000 - Wilma Goetz '51

1999 - Bishop James Tamayo '71 '75

1998 - Barbara Hurwitz '88

1997 - Thomas Bender '52

1997 - Teana Sechelski '52

1996 - Dorothy Wilbeck '60

1995 - Patricia Doyle '62

1994 - Sister Charlene Wedelich '55

1992 - Thomas Brophy '57

1991 - Bishop John Edward McCarthy '56

1990 - Dr. Gilberto Aguirre '68

1989 - Joseph W Colvin '59

1989 - Harriet Brueggemann Colvin '60

1988 - Bishop Ricardo Ramirez '59

1987 - Hon. Criss Cole '52

1987 - Major Thomas Guerinot '69

1987 - Betty Fischer '52

1987 - Charles Fischer '52 '87

1986 - Sister Theresa Macy '56

1974 - Henry Cushing Grover '52

1973 - Laurence Wayne '68

1972 - Christopher Fulton McKee '57

1971 - Mary Alice Parsons '71

1970 - Hon. Criss Cole '52

1968 - Rose Mary Rita Badami '54

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