When San Antonio native Quincy Ollison first saw the many Black, Hispanic and international students on the North Texas campus, he says that gave him confidence that in addition to receiving a quality education, he also would have a broadened experience on a diverse campus.
As a political science major and English minor, Ollison enjoyed the infrastructure of governmental systems and policies while possessing the literary skills needed to comprehend them. This was the beginning of his love for government.
"Although there were a limited number of Blacks that did participate in the Student Government Association," Ollison says, "we got involved and got to work to create benefits for not only Black students but for all students."
Enjoying the service and impact he made on students, Ollison ran for president of the SGA and became the first Black student to hold that office.
"I found working in the SGA so fascinating," Ollison says. "I was putting into real effect what I was learning from my political science classes, and I developed policies, managed student service fees and allocated $1 million of funds for the student body."
Ollison has kept his love for public service as assistant United States attorney in Virginia and Houston.
He encourages students to pursue their passions and stick with them until they are fulfilled.
"If you have a sense of or perspective about what it is that you want to do," Ollison says, "go after it and don't be tempted to quit or change."
Rosalind Johnson ('75)
It was a windy day in 1973 as Student Government Association President Mike Simpson ('74) placed the crown atop Rosalind Johnson's afro. As she marched across Fouts Field as North Texas' first Black Homecoming queen, Johnson not only broke racial barriers, but she also sparked a shift in what North Texas represented and ignited hope and possibility for future generations of African American students.
"I remember that day like it was yesterday," Johnson says. "I was the only person of color running and after I won, I was in complete shock. I couldn't believe it!"
A first-generation college student in her family, Johnson had known that she was going to be a teacher since the 10th grade.
"Everyone knew that UNT had a renowned reputation for their top education program, and I personally knew that with me attending, I would expand my skills and diversify the job opportunities I could have."
As a double major in elementary language arts and special education, Johnson had three job offers before graduating. She spent 43 years cultivating her passion for education by teaching in Dallas ISD and Lancaster ISD until she retired in 2020.
Nearly 50 years from that historic milestone, Johnson affirms, "It was an out-of-body experience. It was no easy feat, but I've always been someone who's determined, so I campaigned hard and won the votes of my peers."
-- Allicia Washington-White
Homero Bayarena ('86, '88 M.B.A.)
When Homero Bayarena puts his mind to something, he puts his whole heart into it.
Growing up, Bayarena was told he wasn't going to succeed in life because of his Mexican American background. But he didn't listen and continued his education at UNT where he took advantage of all the opportunities presented to him to create the life he always wanted for himself.
He became active in several student organizations, and in 1984, he became the first official Homecoming king as well as the first Latino Homecoming king. Bayarena now works for FranklinCovey as a senior consultant specializing in diversity.
"My involvement in so many organizations with different kinds of people led me into the world of diversity in business," he says. "I was able to learn to recognize the value of the human being and have been able to surround myself with people who value each other."
He also is the founder of one of Maryland's largest and premier community theaters, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Bayarena was able to create his own path in life and, ultimately, the impact he has on people and his community has been immensely positive.
"My success stories aren't about me," he says. "They are about the people I've had a chance to possibly influence on their journey."
-- Alicia Zartman
Grace Hargis Carter ('87)
A go-getter since she was a child, Grace Hargis Carter was very active at North Texas. In fact she chaired 16 university-wide committees.
"I was so overbooked as a student, it was actually crazy," she says. "But I loved it."
Carter became the first female elected president of what was then called the Student Association. During that time, the organization oversaw a $5 million budget and the university was transitioning names from North Texas State University to the University of North Texas.
"We were a close-knit group of students who wanted to make the university a really fun place," she says.
She kept in touch with the late Joe Stewart ('71 Ed.D.), who was dean of students and vice president of student affairs and mentored her through the process. She recently caught up with former classmates at a lunch.
After graduation, she used her radio, TV and film degree to go into broadcasting. For 14 years, she anchored newscasts in Amarillo, Wichita, Orlando and Philadelphia, winning an Emmy Award for her series on health issues faced by Desert Storm veterans in Orlando.
Now living in Houston, she works in TV production -- ranging from TV commercials to corporate videos -- and is a real estate investor.
She says her involvement at UNT prepared her for her career, from learning from her mistakes to fighting nerves.
"Taking leadership positions at a young age is really important," she says.
Eric Roman ('96, '99 M.S.)
Eric Roman champions change through leadership.
Inspired by his father, who served in the Odessa Police Department for more than 30 years as one of the first African American police officers hired there, Roman always knew he wanted to continue his father's legacy in law enforcement as a police officer or lawyer.
Roman chose UNT for its top-tier criminal justice program. After participating in several student organizations, he became the first Hispanic president of the Student Government Association and was influential in bringing new food options to campus and helping develop the UNT Multicultural Center.
Roman's influence did not stop there.
One day in 1996, he found a pledge book with racial epithets near a campus fraternity. That drove him to spearhead a campus-wide march that fall that drew 150 students.
"I always have made it a point to lead via the tenet of servant leadership. I tried to leave my position better than how I received it," Roman says.
After graduating, he went on to work for the Dallas Police Department, where he has served in several units, including SWAT and gang narcotics, for 20 years.
Roman believes his experiences on campus helped him attain the career he has today as a major in the department.
"I look forward to this last chapter in the career and a rewarding retirement," he says.
-- Shelby Bahnick
Marcelo Ostria ('10, '11)
When the new president of Bolivia was being inaugurated in 2020, Marcelo Ostria was living his goal.
Ostria, who earned degrees in political science and international studies, wanted to be a diplomat -- the same career as his father.
Public service always has been Ostria's mission.
At UNT, he led the local UNICEF chapter to raise $21,000. He earned a Rotary Global Grant scholarship that he used to pursue a master's degree at Oxford University.
Since he graduated, he conducted independent research in Chile as part of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, was an intern in the White House, worked as an academic advisor for the Kuwait Embassy and served as an advisor to the minister of foreign affairs and liaison for the U.S. delegation during the inauguration in Bolivia.
Now living in Dallas, he's working as a financial consultant for TIAA, where he's hoping to be involved in more humanitarian investments. He's writing a book about child welfare. He hopes to start a nonprofit organization. And it all stems from his activism at UNT.
"I'm happy to be involved," he says. "UNT was the best formative experience I had. It's launched my career. I'm a very proud alum."
-- Jessica DeLeón