Baylor Alumni Association to Honor Outstanding Young Alums at Baylor Homecoming

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    Matthew R. Burchette of Denver, Colo.
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    Laura Lyon Irvine of Irving
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    Giancarlo Guerrero of Eugene, Ore.
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    Judge Jennifer Elrod of Houston
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    Evanthe Collins of Fresno
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    Dr. Julia Chan of Baton Rouge, La.
Oct. 12, 2006

by Judy Prather, Baylor Alumni Association, (254) 710-6431

The Baylor University Alumni Association will honor six Baylor graduates during the first performance of Pigskin Revue on Friday, Oct. 20, at Waco Hall. The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is given annually by the Baylor Alumni Association to recognize professional achievement and distinguished service to Baylor by alumni 40 years old or younger.

This year's honorees are: Matthew R. Burchette of Denver, Colo.; Dr. Julia Chan of Baton Rouge, La.; Evanthe Collins of Fresno; Judge Jennifer Elrod of Houston; Giancarlo Guerrero of Eugene, Ore.; and Laura Lyon Irvine of Irving.

Matthew Burchette is curator and director of operations at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colo. A native of Austin, he earned a bachelor's degree in interior design from Baylor in 1989 and a master's degree in museum administration in 1998. From 2000-2005, he worked as a project manager and later as business development manager for Southwest Museum Services in Houston. A frequent speaker, he also served as vice president of the Outdoor Museums Affinity Group with the Texas Associations of Museums.

Dr. Julia Chan, a 1993 Baylor graduate, is an associate professor at Louisiana State University. She earned a doctorate in chemistry at University of California at Davis and has received fellowships from the National Research Council, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation and the American Chemical Society. In 2002, she was one of 12 women profiled in the Chemical and Engineering News series, "Women in Chemistry," that highlighted women making an impact in the chemical sciences. In 2005, she was one of 120 scientists invited to attend the Alfred Nobel Symposium at Stockholm, Sweden, and also was invited to attend the 17th Annual Frontiers of Science Symposium, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. Chan has published more than 50 refereed journal articles, given more than 43 invited talks and has taught more than 1,200 students. Her research collaborations include scientists from various national laboratories, University of Michigan, University of California, Kyoto University and Tokyo University.

Evanthe Collins began as a caseworker with the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County in 1996, and she has risen to the role of budget manager, overseeing an annual divisional budget of more than $30 million. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Baylor in 1994, a master's degree in counseling from Prairie View A&M University in 1998, and will graduate in December 2006 from Texas Southern University with a doctor of education degree in counselor education. She also successfully advocated for an employee assistance program at MHMRA and developed and currently maintains a company website which provides information, resources and guidance to families and individuals diagnosed with mental retardation and related developmental disabilities. In May, she was given a Star Award at the Harris County Youth and Family Services Conference, and in 2004, Ebony magazine selected Collins as one of "30 Leaders who are 30 and Under." The mother of twins, she was also a "Best Moms" finalist with Houston's FOX news station.

Judge Jennifer L. Walker Elrod was appointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the 190th District Court in March 2002, and the following November, she was elected to a four-year term. A 1988 graduate of Baylor and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, she was the Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Honors Program. After graduation from Harvard Law School, she clerked for two years and then practiced law with Baker Botts LLP. Elrod served pro bono as the first General Counsel to Communities in School-Houston, and she was chair of the board of the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation. In 2004, The Houston Young Lawyers Association named Judge Elrod the Woodrow Seals Outstanding Young Lawyer of Houston, and this year she was honored as an Extraordinary Mother by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Houston.

Giancarlo Guerrero directs the Eugene Oregon Symphony. A native of Nicaragua, he earned a bachelor's degree in percussion from Baylor in 1991 and a master's degree in conducting from Northwestern University. After serving as associate conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1999-2004, he is in his fifth season as music director of the symphony in Eugene, Ore. In his first two seasons there, he conducted a series of all nine Beethoven symphonies. A champion of new music, he initiated a guest-composer series with the Eugene Symphony, where under his leadership the ensemble has hosted several of America's most respected composers. As a guest conductor, Guerrero has made successful appearances recently with orchestras in more than a dozen major U.S. cities, including Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. During the next year, he will appear with the symphony orchestras of Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville, Winnipeg and Edmonton, Orange County, and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. He also regularly conducts in Venezuela and works with the Costa Rican Lyric Opera. In June 2004, Guerrero was awarded the Helen M. Thompson Award by the American Symphony Orchestra League, which recognizes outstanding achievement among young conductors nationwide.

Laura Lyon Irvine is executive vice president of Methodist Health System and president of Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. She joined Methodist Health System in 1996 as an administrative resident at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, and in three years, she advanced to vice president of Methodist Charlton Medical Center. In 2001, she accepted a position as senior vice president of strategic planning and marketing for Methodist Health System, a position she held until accepting her current position. She earned her bachelor of business administration degree from Baylor in 1994 and a master's degree in health care administration from Trinity University. She is the recipient of the inaugural Young Healthcare Executive of the Year award by the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council, the "Up and Comers" award by Modern Healthcare magazine, and the Early Career Healthcare Executive Regent's Award from the American College of Healthcare Executives. She also received the "40 Under 40" award from both the Dallas Business Journal and the Fort Worth Business Press.

For more information about the Outstanding Young Alumni award, contact the Baylor Alumni Association at (254) 710-1121 or at

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