Six exceptional Fairmont State alumni will be honored at the annual Alumni Awards Brunch on Saturday, Oct. 24, at 10 a.m., as part of Fairmont State University's and Pierpont Community & Technical College's Homecoming 2008, "Falcons Are Forever."
The Alumni Awards Brunch will be held in Falcon Center, Gym 1. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. For advance tickets, call (304) 367-4009. A week of Homecoming 2008 events are planned for Oct. 20-25. For more information, visit http://www.fairmontstate.edu/ or http://www.pierpont.edu/.
Alumna of Achievement Marie Prezioso
Marie Prezioso taught a semester at Fairmont State College after receiving her master's degree in business administration in 1975. She went on to work seven years in West Virginia state government as acting director of investments and senior investment officer in the State Treasurer's Office, director of the municipal bond commission and deputy commissioner of finance and administration during Gov. Jay Rockefeller's administration. In 1984, Prezioso left state government to begin a career as a public finance investment banker. She is currently senior vice president and manager of the West Virginia Public Finance Office of Ferris Baker Watts. Prezioso has served, and continues to serve, on numerous boards. She is a past board member of the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc., past chair of the Charleston Housing Authority and past member and treasurer of the board of Special Olympics West Virginia. She currently is a trustee for the West Virginia Investment Management Board, member of the Board of Advisors for the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics and member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee. Prezioso was named the 2002 Italian American Woman of the Year at the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival and received Distinguished West Virginian awards from Governor Caperton in 1995 and Governor Wise in 2002.
Alumnus of Achievement Tom Lopes
Tom Lopes is a 1966 graduate with a bachelor's degree in education. He began his professional career as an educator and then developed his passion to become an NCAA basketball official. His love for basketball officiating began at Fairmont State College, when he took a class taught by Coach Joe Retton. He began his officiating career with the Fairmont State intramural activities program. He continued on to the high-school level and quickly advanced to the collegiate setting. Lopes' officiating highlights include 12 New Jersey state finals, two Tournament of Champions, 26 NIT appearances, eight NIT championship games, 21 Holiday Festival appearances, 10 Holiday Festival championship games, 19 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, and three Final Four games in 1995, 2003 and 2007. The highlight of his career came in 1997, when he received the Naismith Award for Outstanding College Official of the year. Lopes takes pride in the integrity and love for college basketball that he brings to each game as he takes the floor. He is the executive director of the College Basketball Officials Association (CBOA) and travels in that capacity to represent referees and conduct workshops and clinics. Lopes is passionate about helping officials work up through the ranks. Lopes and his wife, Nancy, have three children: Thomas, Jennifer and David.
Outstanding Alumna Naomi "Nicki" Boyers Hovatter
Naomi "Nicki" Boyers Hovatter is a 1925 and 1927 graduate. She obtained an education degree from the Fairmont State Normal School in 1925 and received her A.B. in 1927. She went on to become a podiatrist and opened a practice in Fairmont, where she served many young athletes and community members. Hovatter has been an active member of a number of organizations over the years, including the Eastern Star, of which she has been a member for the past 59 years. Her work with young men and women includes serving on the advisory board for the Rainbow Girls, chaperoning trips, sponsoring social functions and being an outstanding role model. She celebrated her 100th birthday in October 2007 and attributes her longevity to not resenting growing old and realizing that many are denied the privilege. She was married to the late Harry Hovatter and attends Gateway United Methodist Church.
Outstanding Alumnus Frank Gearde Jr.
Frank Gearde Jr. received his bachelor's degree in business administration in 1960. Upon graduation, Gearde went on to work for the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1982, Gearde was appointed director of the department's Office of Operations, responsible for the department's $2.1 billion program, overseeing 15,000 worldwide facilities. Gearde received many awards during his 30-year career with the USDA. These include the Secretary's Special Merit Award for Outstanding Cost Reduction in 1969; Superior Performance Merits in 1973, 1975 and 1978; Senior Executive Service Performance Awards for Outstanding Service from 1981- 1987; the General Service Administration's Public Service Award in 1987; and an Excellence in Administration Award in 1986. Gearde currently resides in Hobe Sound, Fla., with his wife, Carolyn. They have three children: Sheryl, Michael and Leslie.
Outstanding Young Alumna Kristie Latocha
Kristie Latocha received her bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1989 and went on to complete her master's degree in reading at West Virginia University. From 1990 to 2000, Latocha worked as a public school teacher for Marion County. She then began her career in FSU's School of Education as a supervisor of elementary school teachers, public school teaching fellow, and a temporary full-time instructor. She currently works for Pierpont Community & Technical College as the program manager and adjunct instructor of the School of Human Resources. Latocha's awards include the 2007 RESA VII Exemplary Teacher Award, and she is a 2008 Teacher Leadership Institute nominee for Marion County. She has also been awarded grants, including the Bowers Charitable Trust Foundation grant for $18,000 to establish a community playground in Barrackville, and a WV Technology grant for $146,000 to establish a computer laboratory at Blackshere Elementary. Latocha has been married for 18 years and has three children: Brandon, Kailee and Emilee. She currently resides in Fairmont.
Outstanding Young Alumnus Chad M. Riley
Chad M. Riley is a 1995 graduate. He became the third generation in his family to graduate from Fairmont State University when he received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering technology. He then began his career at Thrasher Engineering, Inc., in Clarksburg as a civil engineer, becoming a partner in 2003. Since 2005, Riley has been a principal of Resource Engineering Group, Inc. He oversees the site development and architectural divisions of the company. He has served as project manager for the development of numerous business and industrial parks throughout the state. Riley has participated greatly in the building projects that have taken place on campus for the last several years. He also serves on the Fairmont State University Technology Advisory Committee. In 2005, Riley was named West Virginia Executive Magazine's "Young Gun." Riley officiates high school and collegiate basketball and football, and is active in many community activities, including coaching baseball and basketball at the youth sports level. He currently resides in Bridgeport with his wife, Shelley, and their three children: Chase, Alyssa and Ashlyn.Nominate an alumnus or alumna for the 2009 Alumni Awards by sending a letter of nomination, including a biography and details of the nominee's accomplishments, to Devanna Corley, Director of Alumni Affairs, 1201 Locust Ave., Fairmont, WV 26554. Deadline for nominations is Nov. 1, 2008.