UD National Alumni Board Announces Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

Distinguished Alumni Award The UD National Alumni Board has announced its annual list of distinguished alumni. The 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, who will be honored during a reception and dinner on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Las Colinas Country Club, are Bishop Michael Duca, Michelle Accardi and Sonia Kirkpatrick. Michael Schwartz will be recognized posthumously.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize UD alumni who have demonstrated sustained, distinguished accomplishment and contribution to any field of human endeavor. The award is the highest honor the university can bestow on an alumna or alumnus.

Catholic Diocese of Shreveport (La.) Bishop Michael Duca has dedicated his life to making the Gospel accessible to others, especially through his ministry to young adults. Prior to answering Pope Benedict XVI's call to lead the Shreveport diocese, he was rector of nearby Holy Trinity Seminary, which he attended from 1970-78. During his time there, he earned bachelor's and master of divinity degrees from the university in 1974 and 1978.

Michelle Accardi, director of state policy and advocacy for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, first felt the call to educate children, especially those with disabilities, while practicing law as a private sector attorney. It was after she became an elementary school teacher, however, that her dedication and leadership was quickly recognized. Today, as a national board certified teacher, she is uniquely qualified to advocate for special needs children across the country. Accardi earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Dallas in 1987.

Motivated by her frustrations as a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, Sonia Kirkpatrick envisioned a clinic where children could be evaluated, diagnosed and treated by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in a single location. That concept is now PediaPlex, a Southlake clinic with more than a dozen healthcare professionals that continues to grow under her leadership as its chief executive officer. Kirkpatrick earned an MBA from the University of Dallas College of Business in 2011.

A dedicated public servant and trailblazer in the pro-life and pro-family movements, Michael Schwartz unapologetically defended the family and the unborn for more than 35 years. Among his many accomplishments were starting the March for Life and serving U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) as his chief of staff in Washington, D.C., for eight years. Sadly, Schwartz passed away on Feb. 3, 2013; his Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented posthumously. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Dallas in 1972.

For ticket and event sponsorship information, contact Director of Alumni & Donor Relations Leah Looten at 972-721-5133, llooten@udallas.edu or visit alumni.udallas.edu/DistinguishedAlumniDinner. A significant portion of event proceeds will support scholarship opportunities for University of Dallas students.

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