What began as a foreign exchange program for University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumnus Victor Alatorre ’96, ended up becoming a lifelong career at his alma mater and a passion for helping those in need in the community.
Alatorre’s dedication to UW Oshkosh, the community and his family has earned him a 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Victor has made a tangible, positive difference in this community and is most deserving of this recognition,” said Tom Fojtik, residence life director.
Alatorre and nine other award winners will be honored at a banquet during Homecoming Weekend, October 11-12. They will attend a reception, dinner and awards program in Reeve Memorial Ballroom on Friday, and will have the opportunity to watch the Homecoming football game from the press box at Oshkosh Sports Complex on Saturday. Award winners will be recognized on the field during halftime by Chancellor Richard Wells.
A native of Mexico, Alatorre came to UWO after spending a year in the United States as a high school foreign exchange student. While attending UWO, he got involved in campus activities, including Delta Sigma Phi, the International Student Association and the Advance-Titan.
Alatorre graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international business and minors in business, French and Spanish. He then went on to complete his master’s degree, also from UWO, in business administration with an emphasis in management and MIS in 2000.
His passion for involvement at UWO did not end after graduation. Following completion of his undergraduate degree, Alatorre began working for the Department of Residence Life as the management information coordinator before being promoted to assistant director of residence life in 2007. Alatorre makes an impact on the University on a daily basis, managing the annual housing and technology services budgets; developing, approving and purchasing software; supervising employees; and implementing surveillance systems in residence halls.
“The Management Information Office is the technical heart of our program,” Fojtik said. “Victor has led its tremendous growth in his 18-year tenure with us. The level of service MIO has provided to our students and the University is stunning.”
Alatorre also serves as a mentor for Hispanic students on campus.
“He has advised a student organization dedicated to the academic and personal success of these students,” Fojtik said. “Victor has gotten personally involved… so these men can benefit from interacting with a highly successful and devoted male role model.”
Alatorre’s true passion, however, was outlined in a heartfelt letter of recommendation written by his wife, Amy. In October 2007, the Alatorres welcomed baby Isabella into their lives. Bella was born with Down syndrome and had low muscle tone and holes in her heart.
“For Victor, it was especially hard,” Amy said. “He had his own fears based on what he knew about Down syndrome and the culture that he grew up in Mexico. The life of a special needs person in Mexico is very different than one in the United States… In Mexico, the support for the families and the individuals is still lagging behind.”
The Alatorres joined local support groups to raise awareness for kids with special needs, specifically Down syndrome.
“Victor quickly became the go-to guy for many of these support groups like ‘Down to Earth’ here in Oshkosh,” Amy said.
His involvement has included helping these groups gain a web presence, promote themselves and start up community activities.
“Victor also serves as a contact for Hispanic families that are expecting a child with Down syndrome,” Amy said. “We remember what it was like to receive the news ourselves and now he wants to pay it forward.”
In doing this, Alatorre uses his native language and his personal experience to explain what families can expect to help ease their fears. According to Amy, when asked why Alatorre takes on so many activities and commitments his answer is always, “I do it for Bella.”
UWO alumnus Charles Milam ’00, believes Altorre is truly deserving of the alumni award.
“Victor is a shining example of not only what UWO can do for the individual student, but also what the individual alumnus can do for the University.”
The Alumni Awards Dinner will be held beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11 in Reeve Memorial Union. Reserve your spot at the event by calling (920) 424-3349 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $30 per person.
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