EL PASO — Alfredo Corchado’s fellow alumni, family and friends, gathered at University of Texas at El Paso recently to listen the award-winning Mexico Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News and this year’s Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
Since his graduation from UTEP in 1987, Corchado has focused his writing on border issues and he continues to mentor and inspire young journalists who show a similar passion for investigative reporting.
His family has supported his hard work and dedication and benefited from his example, said Linda Corchado, Alfredo’s youngest sibling, a Swarthmore graduate. “I’m very proud of my brother. He really opened up the world to me and made it accessible. It’s very special to see that if you really want to you can achieve whatever you want to do. He has really been a testament to that. It’s very inspiring and it keeps me going.”
Dr. Frank Perez, associate Professor and Chair, Department of Communication, introduced Corchado and UTEP president Dr. Diana Natalicio presented Corchado with the Official Starlighter, which means that the star on the Franklin Mountains over the city will be lighted in his honor. Corchado was also presented with a framed copy of his presentation “Mexico through the Eyes of a Foreign Correspondent” in which he described his experiences as a journalist and the influence of the border region on his work.
“At the age of 17 my father left the contents of his life behind” said Alfredo talking about his father’s earlier life. Corchado’s father was looking for work on the international bridges to earn money to help his mother, in Durango. The rancheros specifically look for strong, tall, young men for work. “The young man was neither, he was simply a believer,” Corchado said. “He rode quietly on the way to the cotton fields of the lower valley toward the chile fields of New Mexico. Passing the incredible Bhutanese buildings and swore someday, if he ever had children, they would get an education here.”
A 2009 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University Corchado also won the Dallas Morning News Finalist award from the Center for Public Integrity in Washington D.C.
“I think it’s very important to give him the opportunity to speak about all of these issues, because it’s relevant,” Linda said. “It’s really nice that we’re starting to think twice about what we’ve been doing in our policies even about decriminalization.”
That night the fundraiser was able to raise more than $9,000 in scholarship money. The El Paso Chapter of the UTEP Alumni Association reviewed many applicants to honor in the 3rd annual Fundraiser Gala. “When we visited with Dr. Howard Daudistel we talked about possible speakers and we went through a list of recommendations,” said Mary Helen Padilla, vice president for membership for the Alumni Association’s board of directors. “When we looked at Alfredo Corchado and what he was doing and the situation here on our border we thought this is the ideal speaker and indeed he was.”