Dr. Maria D. Velasquez and her mom, Lucita.
Editor’s note: This feature is dedicated to profiling Van Horn High School Alumni and updating locals on what became of them after graduation. The Advocate welcomes information for publication on VHHS Alumni and will try to highlight two Van Horn Eagles every week.
Maria D. Velazquez, known as “Lucy” to her close friends and Dr. Velazquez to everyone else, graduated in 1987 as Valedictorian and was active in many extracurricular events, including band, where she was First Chair Flute.
Dr. Velazquez received her undergraduate degree at Texas A & M University and graduated from medical school at UTMB Galveston. She did her Ob/Gyn residency at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in El Paso, and in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, where she stayed as an attending physician for two years. Dr. Velazquez then moved to Farmington, New Mexico where she had a private practice for two years. Between 2002 and 2005, Dr. Velazquez published several articles in recognized scientific journals. In 2006, she moved back to El Paso and works for Texas Healthcare Network as a perinatologist as well as director of the antepartum units and maternal transport teams for Las Palmas Medical Center and the Hospitals of Providence, Memorial Campus. Dr. Velazquez is Board Certified in Maternal and Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Dr. Velazquez has four children, Michael Anthony, Isabel Anahi, and identical twins, Natalia Sophia and Leha Christine. In her spare time, she enjoys horseback riding, animal rescue and spending time with her wonderful children.
Ricardo (Rich)Torres, VHHS salutatorian from the Class of 1990 has had a great legal career. He was inspired to go to law school by the character Atticus Fench after reading To Kill a Mocking Bird in his High School English class. He started his path toward becoming a lawyer at Texas A&M, graduating with a degree in Speech Communications in May of 1994. During his undergraduate years, he was sidetracked one summer and worked in Lake Tahoe, California for a dinner cruise boat, The Tahoe Queen. He re-focused on his goal to become a lawyer and spent two summers working for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II in his District Office in Boston, Massachusetts as an intern. He discovered he really liked Boston and decided to attend law at Northeastern University after receiving a half tuition scholarship. He completed his law degree in May 1998 at a graduation ceremony attended by most of his family where Ted Kennedy was the keynote speaker. After graduating law school, he moved to San Francisco and worked for a start-up, a DSL provider, NorthPoint Communications, that later went bankrupt. He joined an online gaming company, SideFlip.com for a few months, before being laid off and moving to Chicago. He spent 2 years working for Tribune Company’s cable distribution division called Tower Distribution, which distributes the WGN signal. He spent 5 years as a contracts manager for GlobalView Software, an aggregator of energy market data before taking the Illinois Bar exam. He then went to Groupon, where he currently works as a commercial contracts lawyer. His favorite part of being a lawyer at Groupon is being able to help sales representatives negotiate and close deals.
He has had an eventful life, traveling all over western Europe and a few places in the Caribbean, Latin America, including a recent trip to Mexico City. Besides travel, he is a health nut and bikes 8 miles every Monday through Friday. He loves spending time with friends. He has had the privilege of meeting several celebrities and politicians including Oprah Winfrey and Ricky Martin among others. For now, he plans on staying in Chicago but gets motivated to move every winter. He would love to be closer to family.
Rich credits his success to the love and support he received from his mom, Antonia (Toni) Torres and his sister, Raquel Mendez. He also credits his High School teachers for giving him the much needed direction and support to take the leap and be the first in his family to go to college. A key moment in Rich’s life, he says, was attending Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) after receiving a scholarship from Van Horn’s Rotary Club. He never forgets the wonderful people of Van Horn who believed in him and encouraged him. He hopes that his story isn’t just something people read, but a story parents use to inspire their kids to go to college. “It’s easy to believe that because you come from a small town with a humble background that you can’t do much”, says Rich, “but my life is proof that anyone from VHHS can have a wonderful career and a great life.