OLLI at UTEP has curriculum that is wide-ranging. Areas of study include history,language,philosophy,music, hands-on arts and more. The Instructors are active and retired UTEP faculty and other professionals, with an expertise or passion in a particular field. These are the instructors for the FALL 2018 Session. The biographical information is provided by the instructors themselves.

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ALFREDO ARROYO Graduate of The Citadel and of the DEA/FBI Academy and other police, military, and intelligence schools. Career included numerous domestic and foreign assignments with INTERPOL and in Europe, Africa and Latin America.


CLASS: Secrets and Betrayal



STEVE BAROWSKY is the director of the Center for Internal Arts, an El Paso studio dedicated to Tai Chi, Chi Gung, and Meditation.  He has studied the internal arts of China extensively with direct lineage masters for 35 years.  Steve has been teaching these arts professionally for over 25 years.  Prior to the past 35 years, Steve studied external styles of Kung Fu for many years and was trained and worked as a teacher of Kundalini yoga.  Steve also has a bachelors degree in anthropology and a masters' degree in education.

CLASS: Grasping the Sparrow's Tail


MARY BENANTI is a writer and a retired associate professor in interdisciplinary studies. As a journalist, Benanti covered politics and government in El Paso, Washington D.C. and Colorado. She also was the Editorial Page Editor at the El Paso Times 2003-2004. She continues to teach classes at New Mexico State University in women, politics and gender studies. Her interests are politics, government, and the U. S. Mexico border culture.

CLASS: Where do we go from here?


MARIE VIANNEY BILGRIEN Marie Vianney Bilgrien is a retired university professor. She has taught at many educational levels and enjoys providing new thought to students of all ages. She enjoys reading, exercising and traveling. Her travels have widely contributed to the lessons she teaches students.



SIFU BETO BRISENO began his training in eastern Martial Arts in 1953. He trained under Sensei Kent Rogers, Grand Master Ark Yuey Wong and other great masters from China. He also studied Chi-Gong at the Taoist Institute of Los Angeles. He receives many referrals from physicians and instructs others in the El Paso, Houston, San Antonio, Virginia and Calfornia regions, as well as in Mexico.




JESUS BURCIAGA has a B.A. in Mass Communications from UTEP. He is retired from the Instituto Tecnologico de Ciudad Juarez(ITCJ) faculty after 30 years of teaching. Native from El Paso, raised in Ciudad Juarez. As a professional in journalism he has worked in Secretaria de Economia in Mexico City, in El Fronterizo, Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua and ITCJ in Ciudad Juarez. He is a member of Sociedad Mexicana de Geographia y Estadistica, Centro de Estudios Guadalupanos de la Basilica y Sociedad Chihuahuense de Estudios Historicos.

CLASS: Tutti Frutti


JACQUELINE CORDOVA is a certified health nutrition coach, from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (NY)  and the Living Foods Institute (GA). She has three years of experience health coaching clients individually and  has been structuring and doing workshops and classes for seven years. Jacqueline has a major  in CIS (computer information systems) in the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Jal. (1994).  She has been invited to participate as guest speaker at conferences such as The Wise Latinas summit (Aug 2013), El Paso Museum of History (HealthyThanksgiving Workshop,Nov 2013), The Rio Grande Cancer Foundation ("Keep on dancing”, Nov 2014), Femfessionals El Paso (luncheon, Feb 2015), El Paso Community Foundation (Cultivate Forum, Jul 2015) and The Autism Society of El Paso (Support meeting, Sept 2015), as well as nutrition and food preparation workshops at EPCC (for the Rio Grande Cancer foundation) and the Downtown Artist and Farmers Market. Jacqueline is the owner of The Green Ingredient, a health conscious restaurant located in downtown El Paso, and has been recently invited to be a board member of Impact Programs of Excellence, a local non profit organization dedicated to the arts.

CLASS: Plant Based Food Cooking



EVERETT DAGUE PhD is the Command Historian for the US Army's Sergeants Major Academy on the Ft. Bliss Campus. He attended the University of South Carolina and completed a PhD in Modern History at Florida State. He has taught at several universities and at OLLI in Kansas.

CLASS: Why Hitler? Explaining Hitler's Rise through Film


CATHERINE DICKASON has a B.S. in Education/Health/Physical Education and all levels English from UTEP. Received Masters of Education/Reading from UTEP in 2005. Taught in el Paso Public Schools for 35 years. Currently teaching part time English at UTEP and EPCC. Involved in Community Theater both as a musician and on stage. Avid history and literature buff.

CLASS: Romantic Southern Gothic Authors

CLASS: Modern Southern Gothic Literature


JAMIE FLORES is the Programming and Education Director of the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center. Jamie graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in Editorial Journalism and a B.A. in History (with an emphasis in European History). Jamie joined the El Paso Holocaust Museum team in 2008. Since 2008, Jamie has studied the Holocaust extensively by attending the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Jeruselum. She became the Programming Director at the El Paso Holocaust Museum in 2016.

CLASS: Resistance During the Holocaust Through Art, Music, & Poetry


CHRISTIAN GERSTHEIMER has been living in El Paso since 2003. From 2003 until 2017 he was a curator for the El Paso Museum of Art. While in El Paso, he has enjoyed teaching UTEP and EPCC students. He has earned a B.A. in Humanities Interdisciplinary and an M.A. degree in Art History from Michigan State University. He also holds a B.F.A degree from the Art Institute of Chicago and and M.F.A. in Creative Practice from the Transart Institute with Plymouth University.



ARMANDO GONZALEZ PhD. earned his B.Sc. degree in Agronomics/Animal Science from the Center of Universitarian Studies in Monterrey, Mexico. Traveling throughout that country, he gained first-hand experience in the use of native medicinal herbs employed by Mexican traditional medicine in the treatment of various diseases. He furthered his studies at the post graduate level at the University of Chihuahua, where he engaged in research about “locoweed” (Astragalus wootonii), a leguminous plant that is poisonous to livestock, but also has human medicinal applications in oncology. He has written 5 books, and published various research articles in internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals regarding alternative medicine. From 2011 to the present, he has been professor of Alternative Medicine, as well as Herbal Medicine with the Senior Adult Program at EPCC. His academic training includes The University of Texas at El Paso, Open International University, and Centro de Estudios Universitarios Monterrey.

CLASS: Dietary Supplements: Risks And Benefits

CLASS: Psychoactive Plants: Medicines or Poisons?


JOHN GROVES John Groves is a professional educator and musician in the El Paso/Las Cruces area. His interest in birds and birding grew out of a lifelong love of wildlife and the outdoors. He has birded all over the US and Ecuadorian Andes.

CLASS: The Yucatan Express: How our migratory songbirds return to their breeding grounds from Mexico and South America


GRACE HADDOX `is a UTEP graduate with a Master of Arts in English and American literature. She teaches research and British literature at EPCC. During the 2009-2010 school year, Grace was awarded the Faculty Acheivement Award at EPCC and the NISOD Excellence Award from the University of Texas. She has been teaching at OLLI since 2002.

CLASS: William Shakespeare's Richard III


ROMY SAENZ HAWKINS is a successful enterprising master of metal embossing art form and studied her artistry during three separate time periods(Guadalajara,Germany,Mexico). With a BA in Psychology from the University Autonoma of Guadalajara.  She earned certification in metal embossing from UACJ. Mrs. Hawkins has been teaching this art for OLLI since 2004. Her work has been exhibited in juried shows locally and in private collections, Museum of Art LC NM. Chamizal National Memorial, Centennial Museum UTEP, Mexico Arte Museum , Austin TX.   




RON HUFSTADER PhD is newly retired after 39 years with the UTEP Department of Music. He is Professor Emeritus of Music, is a member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association and was recently inducted into the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame.

CLASS: There is a Maestro in the House! Conductors and Conducting



MAUREEN KETON is a retired Choral Director. She taught 34 years in various schools in both the YISD and EPISD. She is currently in her 24th year as Choral Director a University Presbyterial Church. She says: "I believe everyone can sing, if given some ear training and some encouragement." Mary Beth Harper is a retired EPISD educator, who started singing at Travis Elementary at age 10, She has played the piano since a child, and has accompanied choirs, soloists, and church congregations. Both Maureen and Mary Beth are OLLI members!

CLASS: Singing Made Easy!


KATHLEEN KEY has a B.A. in English and History from UTEP and an M.A. in Art History--University of St Thomas-Houston. She has taught History of Fashion, 20th Century Designers, Fashion Show Production at Central College-Houston Community College and Art Institute of Houston. She taught Art History I and II including World Art at both HCC and Art Institute. She has taught upper division courses-Ancient Egyptian Art, Ancient Greek Art and Ancient Roman Art at the University of Houston.

CLASS: Rediscovery of Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture and Development of Egyptology as a Science


LINDA LARBI -CHERIF Linda Larbi-Cherif has been knitting since the age of 5. She is from Yorkshire in England and her maiden name was Dent. In the Yorkshire dales there is the village of Dent where her family comes from. The people of the village were known as The Terrible Knitters of Dent because knitting was the industry of the village. All the villagers knitted wherever they went, to and from the market, in church and even while the women were preparing a meal.



STEPHEN LEDESMA Stephen Ledesma served as an interior designer for 32 years, before retiring. He has a B.S. in interior design and language teaching credentials. He taught high school students for two years. Stephen is a current member of OLLI and wishes to share his eye for design with the OLLI community.

CLASS: "There's No Place Like Home" A Guide to Interior Design Wizardry


MARIE LIVINGSTON has been involved with OLLI @ UTEP for several years. She has taught classes in Art History and been an enthusiastic student in many OLLI classes. Before coming to OLLI Marie worked at the El Paso Museum of Art and volunteered there as a docent. She has a BFA in Ceramics and Sculpture from UTEP and has been a long time lover of art and art history.

CLASS: Cutting Edge Contemporary Art


REV. NEAL LOCKE is a third generation El Pasoan of Viking descent(Scotland via Norway) who currently serves as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church. He holds an M.Div. and an M.A. in Education from Princeton Theological Seminary, and studied Viking and Anglo-Saxon language and literature at Princeton University

CLASS: Celtic Spirituality


AUROLYN LUYKX Ph.D. is an associate professor of anthropology at UTEP. She specializes in indigenous languages, Latin American topics, public education and human sexuality. Aurolyn has taught OLLI students for several semesters and enjoys the laid back and encouraging environment that OLLI provides. She also enjoys taking OLLI classes!


CLASS: Endangered Languages


CHARLES MARTIN PhD is a recently retired history professor from UTEP. His studies emphasize civil rights history, Texas history, sport history and American history.

CLASS: Myths and Realities in Texas History


OSCAR J MARTINEZ PhD is an Emeritas Regents Professor from the University of Arizona. He has published numerous books on the history of the borderlands, Mexican Americans, and Mexico.

CLASS: Borderlands History and Culture: Best Video Documentaries


RAFFAAT MAXIMOS Raffaat Maximos graduated from Cairo University with a law degree and later studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. After moving to the United States in 1980, Raffaat pursued a graphic arts degree in Chicago. He worked many years as the director of an advertising firm. His passion for the arts led him to Orlando, Florida, where he opened his first art gallery: Art Nova. Subsequently, he opened a location in El Paso.


CLASS: Still Life Painting


ALBERT MENDOZA Albert Mendoza was born in Mexico. He has self-studied the history of old Mexico's conquest and researched the topic in depth. He holds an associate's degree in mid-management from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas and a Bachelor's Degree in Multidisciplinary studies. He attained his Bachelor's degree from UTEP in 2014.



DAVINIA MIRAVAL studied graphic communications at National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1998. That same year she came to the United States and continued her interest in art. In 2005 she received a B.A. in Fine Arts in the area of metals at the UTEP. She has received several awards in her area of interest, among them Best of Painting, Award of Excellence in Metals from the University of Texas, and the Student Scholarship from Women’s Jewelry Association, Inc. In 2007 she received an M.A. in Art, majoring in metals and painting.



DIANA MOLINA is an artist, photographer and curator and has published features for international magazines including: Elle, Esquire, GEO, Marie Claire, National Geographic Traveler and Vogue.  She has produced traveling exhibits for museums that include: The Penn Museum, The World Museum of Art, Rotterdam, Holland; and the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History among others.  As a scholar for the New Mexico Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau and  Artistic Director for the JUNTOS Art Association, she develops and presents public programming.

CLASS: Project: Photography


RUBY MONTANA is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Humanities at the University of Texas at El Paso, focusing on modern cultural revolutions and the impact of technological advancements on Western cultural issues. She was born and raised in El Paso, TX and received her BA in English and American Literature as well as her MA in Philosophy from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her areas of interest and research include Embodied Cognition and Aesthetics.

CLASS: The Philosophical Study of Morality: Ethics for the Modern World


FRED MORALES is author of 36 books dealing on local history. Morales do walking tours, exhibits and research on local El Paso/Juarez history. Graduated in 1980 from UTEP with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

CLASS:History of The El Paso/Juarez Region- UP TO 1890

CLASS:History of The El Paso/Juarez Region - 1890-1965


NANCY NATALICIO Nancy Natalicio has two Masters' degrees and over ten years of experience teaching writing. She has taught both EPCC and OLLI students for several years. Nancy is an author with several published works. She  has a passion for listening to the stories of others and enjoys the unique stories each individual carries with them.




FRANCE PETERS was born in Montreal, Canada. She moved to El Paso nearly 10 years ago and has since graduated from UTEP with an accounting degree. Currently, she teaches and tutors French to children, teens and adults. France has also recently attained a teaching degree from Montreal. She hopes to continue to spread French language and culture (cooking) in El Paso. Her Clafoutis and Tarte Tatin are very delicious!

CLASS: French Language and Culture


ROSARIO PONTE is an El Paso artist, originally from Venezuela. A graduate of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts, she also completed advanced studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and has further studied under nationally acclaimed artists Aleksander Titovets and Daniel Greene. She has been painting for over 25 years and has won prizes for her oil paintings which have been exhibited nationally and internationally. Ms. Ponte specializes in portraiture, landscapes and still life.  She has taught art classes for OLLI for several years.




SILVIA PORTILLO-KOCH was born Argentinian of Italian immigrants. Began linguistic journey at an early age learning Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English. Attended University of Buenos Aires. Resided and studied in Brazil,Germany & Italy. Currently, resides in El Paso, Tx. She has worked as interpreter, translator and language teacher for the United States Air Force, and the La Paz Language Academy in El Paso, Tx.




PHYLLIS LANE PRICE has led yoga classes since 1981, both privately and at various El Paso studios, health clubs, and gyms.  She taught vigorous Ashtanga yoga in curriculum classes at UTEP and NMSU. She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with Yoga Alliance, as well as a registered Life Force Yoga Teacher (LFYT) specializing in yoga for depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  She has special training in yoga for pregnancy, for restorative poses, and for the pelvic floor.




LYNN PROVENZANO has facilitated personal and professional development for over 25 years in corporate, community, and non-profit groups. She has world-wide, dross-cultural experience, and specializes in interpersonal skills, creative energy work, and motivation. She is a MCKS Pranic Healing practitioner/facilitator and devotee of Tai Chi and Qigong.

CLASS: Meditation, Mindfulness, and Consciousness

CLASS: Self-Healing and the Power of Meditation


ALFRED R REEVES education includes a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Penn State University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. He also holds a Bachelor of Metaphysical Science, B.Msc., from the University of Metaphysics, and he is an ordained metaphysical minister, having received his ordination and practitioner diploma from the International Metaphysical Ministry University Seminary. Currently Alfred is working on his Ph.D. at the University of Sedona, located in Arizona. Additionally, Alfred is a Certified Life Purpose Coach, a graduate from the Life Purpose Institute in La Jolla, California in 2006. He is also a Reiki Master, and provides treatments, training classes, motivational speaking, and life coaching.

CLASS: Create Your Life


CESAR RIVERA Cesar R. Rivera has a Juris Doctor degree from UCLA and a Master's Degree from UTEP. He taught bilingual adult literacy for two years and has been teaching philosophy at local colleges and universities for almost two decades. Currently, he teaches Philosophy and Ethics at EPCC, as well as Religion and Law at UTEP's Religious Studies Program.

CLASS: The Interaction Between Political Theory and Philosophy Of Religion In Modern Democracies

The Role Of Legal Philosophy In The American Federal Judiciary


CLAUDIA RODRIGUEZ Claudia Rodriguez is an entrepreneur in the health industry. Her goal is to help others improve their health with easy strategies. She has been certified as a Health and Nutrition Advisor by Sanoviv Medical Institute--a well known hollistic hospital. Claudia also enjoys promoting health through other healthy habits, such as writing and cooking.

CLASS: 7 Ways to Detox Your Body

CLASS: Improve Your Health and Life with Positive Psychology


STEVE SCHILLER is currently the 2nd trumpet of the Las Cruces Symphony. Former member: Cleveland Symphony, National Ballet of Canada, Springfield, MA. Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic. Performances with: Boston Symphony, Metropolitan Opera, NYC Broadway musicals. Former faculty: New England Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Westfield (MA) State College.

CLASS: Pop Music Of The 1950's, 60's And 70's- A Sing Along With The Oldies Class

CLASS: Great Italian Composers


HECTOR SERRANO taught Theater and English for 50 years in public schools, UTEP, and as Professor at EPCC.  He has a Master’s degree in English Literature from UTEP and studied theater at the Pasadena Playhouse, Lee Strasberg Theater Institute, NYU, and University of London.  To date, he has directed over 200 productions.  He created the outdoor drama "Viva El Paso!" in 1978 and directed it for 25 seasons.  He founded the Shakespeare on- the-Rocks Theater Festival in 1981 and continues as Artistic Director.

CLASS: Behind the Curtain


JIM SMITH is a former high school history teacher who has been recognized as the New Mexico Teacher of the Year and Finalist for the National Teachers' Hall of Fame. Jim now works as an education consultant, having made presentations to teachers and administrators throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. His online class for Rice University, titled "The Art of Teaching History", recently reached over 5000 teachers in 135 nations. Jim has made numerous presentations on music history in community education programs at NMSU, WNMU, and Rice University. During the last eight years, he has taught many classes for OLLI at UTEP.

CLASS: Beethoven and Mahler: Revolution and Farewell


LISA SMITH Lisa Smith is the current Dance Director at UTEP. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from UT Austin and and MFA in Creative Writing from UTEP. Lisa has danced as a soloist with many performing companies here and abroad and her performing credits include many classical roles, as well as parts in contemporary works. Lisa is a published poet, scholar and dance reviewer. In 2016, Lisa received the UTEP College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Faculty in the Arts Award.



SUKHIDEVI is a Buddhist priest, a Reiki Master Teacher, a spiritual teacher, a Chopra Center Certified Teacher, and the author of two published books— “Mahaananda Reiki” and “The Esoteric World of Chakras”.  She earned undergraduate degrees in Biology and Accounting at UTEP.

CLASS: Reiki Level II


VIRIDIANA VIDAÑA has a B.A. & an M.A. in Spanish with specializations in Latin American literature and secondary education. She is certified by the Texas State Board of Educators, has over five years of teaching experience (both at high school and college level), and is currently working to obtain a Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Culture.

CLASS: Conversational Spanish: Building A Real Life Bridge

CLASS: A Tour of The Spanish Language Through Music: Lyrics Of The Heart (Spanish Part 3)


LEANNE VON MITTENWALD has over 30 years experience teaching theatrical arts & education. Her approachable & encouraging attitude compels her students to let go and explore their inner child. She is a published playwright, has directed over 30 plays, and has a true passion for teaching and learning.




BRIAN YOTHERS PhD Is the Professor and Associate Chair of English and the current holder of the Francis Spatz Leighton Endowed Distinguished Professorship in English. He has written four books and several dozen articles on American literature, and is the 2014 winner of the UT Regents Outstanding Teaching Award.

CLASS: Walt Whitman at 200

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