Valdez named Founder’s Day awardee

By By Rita Totten, Staff Writer

By Rita Totten, Staff Writer

Judge Andrew Valdez said he never thought he would go to college.

“I didn’t think it was possible,” said Valdez, who graduated from the S. J. Quinney College of Law in 1977. “I had no money and no one in my family had gone to college before.”

The U Alumni Association will honor Valdez and other distinguished U alumni in February for their contributions to the community at the U Founder’s Day celebration. The annual event that commemorates the founding of the U in 1850 will recognize four U alumni and a married couple as honorary alumni.

The selection was based on community involvement and impact, said Lindsay Allen, alumni relations director. The individuals chosen have made an impact in their professional lives and are “the best and the brightest of U alumni,” she said.

John Ashton, executive director of the Alumni Association, said they receive numerous nominations every year.

An awards committee reviews each nomination and then an awards board chooses who they feel has made the outstanding contributions to the state, nation or community, as well as those nominees who have excelled in their careers.

During the weeklong celebration in February, award recipients will be invited to speak on campus or teach a class and share their success with students, Ashton said.

Valdez said the news was unexpected but appreciated. “I am forever grateful for the U for getting an education,” he said.

Going from the streets of Salt Lake City to college didn’t seem possible for Valdez, who was the first Latino criminal defense attorney to be appointed to the bench. Valdez credits professors and student advisers for his success at the U as well as the Chicano/a Student Association. His book, No One Makes It Alone, discusses his journey from a poor kid to a distinguished member of the community,

“Graduating from the U changed the lives of my family,” Valdez said.

Other recipients of the awards include Richard Kendell, former Utah Commissioner of Higher Education; William Rutter, a biotechnology researcher; Beverly Taylor Sorensen, a former school teacher; and honorary alumni Chase N. and Grethe Ballif Peterson, a former U president and his wife, he was the director of the Tanner Lecture series, according to a release from the Alumni Association.

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