Utah State University 2023 Homecoming is just a falling leaf away, with events going from Sunday, Oct. 1, through Saturday, Oct. 7.
Longtime Aggies will recognize notable events for the week that include A Day of Giving on Thursday, Oct. 5 to help raise money for student scholarships and True Aggie Night on Friday, Oct. 6, just before midnight under the “A” lit blue atop Old Main.
More fun begins Saturday, Oct. 7, with the Running of the Bulls 5K at 8:30 a.m. (sign up early for discount registration) and the Homecoming Parade on Logan’s Main Street at 10 a.m. The parade route begins on Center Street and ends at 800 North. Last but not least, people can show their Aggie pride by attending the annual Homecoming game against Colorado State University at 6 p.m.
Four notable Aggies will be honored for their contributions to Utah State University during the Homecoming festivities. The honorees are a prominent feature of the Homecoming parade and are chosen for their record of service within their communities and support of the university. The honorees include David and Lynette Jenkins as Grand Marshals, James Edward Porras as Alumnus of the Year, and Amberley Lana Snyder as Young Alumna of the Year.
David and Lynette Jenkins
Utah State University alumni couple David and Lynette Jenkins show an unwavering commitment to the institution and the community. The couple’s relentless pursuit of excellence and their dedication to making USU a better place have left an indelible mark on the institution’s success.
A pillar of the Cache Valley community, David is founder of Conservice, the nation’s largest full-service utility management company. He successfully grew the company into a multibillion-dollar international enterprise with more than 2,800 employees in the Logan community, and he is the creator of the Conservice Cares program that allows team members to give two hours of paid service each month to help give back to the community and improve work/life balance.
He now serves as the company’s chairman, having retired after 20 years as president and CEO. David earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1995 and a master’s degree in social science in 1999 from the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
For his business acumen, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young in 2011, and, in 2021, he was honored as the Distinguished Executive Alumnus by the Huntsman School, where he is also the chair of the National Advisory Board.
A serial entrepreneur for more than 25 years, he is an owner in 70+ privately held companies in a wide range of industries. David’s contributions are not just confined to his professional life; he has been an active member of various community organizations for years, volunteering his time and expertise to numerous causes.
Lynette has been David’s partner in every sense of the word — a woman of grace, intelligence and boundless compassion. After earning a degree in 1995 in early childhood and elementary education from the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services, Lynette dedicated herself to shaping the minds of the next generation, in particular, her three daughters.
Her dedication to improving lives goes beyond her home life as Lynette is involved in many civic, church and charitable organizations. She and David have donated much of their time and financial backing to CAPSA, which provides services for women, men and children impacted by abuse, and the English Language Center of Cache Valley, where, in 2014, Lynette received the J. Craig Hale award for 100 hours of service. She also volunteered for many years as the President of the Cache Valley Civic Ballet.
Together, David and Lynette have truly made a difference in the Cache Valley community and championed many causes. They formed the Charis Legacy Foundation, the couple’s family foundation that focuses on local charitable and educational groups in order to strengthen Cache Valley.
They’re also supporters of the Cache Education Foundation, Cache Valley for Hope, and the Cache Valley Humanitarian Center, among many other organizations, proving time and again that their commitment knows no bounds. The couple are generous contributors to USU, and David enjoys serving as a guest speaker and alumni mentor.
Most recently, the couple became the owners of the Logan Golf and Country Club. David and Lynette’s favorite activities include spending time with family (that has now grown to include a son-in-law and granddaughter), traveling the world, golfing, hiking and camping.
David and Lynette’s love for USU and the Logan area truly make it a better place. The proud Aggies serve as a reminder that everyone can play a role in improving life for generations to come.
James Edward Porras
Alumnus of the Year
Guided by faith, family, and a network of devoted friends, James Edward Porras, a proud Utah State University alum, embodies the spirit of an unwavering Aggie.
Born in the small Texan town of Gonzales, James is a second-generation American with deep Mexican roots, ingrained in his grandparents' heritage. His early education unfolded in a segregated class where Spanish was the predominant language, akin to the Mexican American children in his community. When James was seven-years-old, the Porras family relocated to Utah, initially settling in Orem before moving to Logan in the 1960s, where they stood as one of the few Hispanic families in the area.
James's school years in Logan were marked by formidable challenges: first, overcoming a language barrier, then grappling with undiagnosed dyslexia. Nevertheless, he persevered, proudly graduating from Logan High School in 1966, all without ever completing a full book.
Post-high school, James enlisted in the U.S. Army, embarking on a life-altering journey that took him to far corners of the world, culminating in a year-long deployment to Vietnam — an experience that etched enduring memories into his life.
Leaving the Army, James reunited with his family who were now back in Texas, and, from there, he embarked on a memorable journey to Logan in his sleek 1969 Mustang. This homecoming held dual significance: reuniting with his girlfriend and enrolling at Utah State University.
Though his initial quarter at USU proved challenging, it marked the start of a transformative period. During this time, he married Alecia and relocated to Houston, Texas, where they started a family, adding two children to their ranks. James also earned an associate degree from San Jacinto Jr. College.
A few years later, bolstered by newfound determination, the Porras family returned to Logan. James re-enrolled at USU and earned his bachelor's degree in clothing and textiles in 1974. Throughout the next five years, he and Alecia welcomed three more children. James ventured into management at JC Penney, honing his leadership skills and gaining invaluable experience.
A pivotal moment arrived when James transitioned from the retail sector to join his family's Mexican bakery and burrito store in Houston, igniting his entrepreneurial spirit. The small establishment burgeoned under his guidance, and he expanded by branching into pastry wholesale distribution, opening multiple Mexican fast-food outlets, and securing lucrative airport concessions. James also committed himself to community service, where he served on the boards of organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Crime Stoppers.
After working in the family business, James decided to work on expanding his own ventures with renewed determination. His path led to Colorado, where he took ownership of several Wendy's franchises, ventured into Big O Tire franchises, delved into real estate investments, and diversified his portfolio.
One of his real estate investments, a second home in Logan, allows James to remain committed to USU and the Cache Valley community, where he proudly is involved with the USU Latinx Cultural Center and Latinos in Action.
James's unique ability to forge meaningful connections with strangers remains a hallmark of his character. He extends his hand to offer advice, mentorship, and uplifting support, radiating compassion in his community.
Amberley Lana Snyder
Young Alumna of the Year
Utah State University alumna Amberley Lana Snyder is a remarkable individual who has dedicated herself to the noble cause of fostering environments of personal growth and unyielding progress for youth. A shining beacon of inspiration, Amberley demonstrates the incredible impact one person can make in shaping the future.
On January 10, 2010, Amberley’s life was changed in an instant when an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. At the time of the accident, Amberley was a USU student working toward earning a degree in agricultural education and was an accomplished rider on the USU Rodeo Team.
After hours of surgery and a doctor’s prognosis that she would never regain use or feeling below her waist, Amberley’s competitive spirit drove her to regain her ability to ride horses. Remarkably, just four months after the accident, she was back in the saddle.
From an early age, Amberley’s parents instilled in her the belief that hard work triumphs when talent falls short. This principle became her daily mantra and has contributed significantly to her success.
Despite the obstacles and adversity she encountered, Amberley remained undaunted in pursuing her goals. In May 2015, she graduated from USU with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.
Remarkably, Amberley’s unwavering work ethic has not only endured, but grown stronger over time. The partially-paralyzed professional barrel racer is an amazing athlete who, in 2015, was voted the fan exemption contestant at the world’s richest one-day rodeo, The American.
She competed with the best in the industry and was just 0.6 seconds short of the winning time, receiving a standing ovation from more than 40,000 fans in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In 2016, Amberley secured a spot in the top five for the Rocky Mountain Pro Rodeo Association and won her Women’s Professional Rodeo Association card. In 2018, she achieved another milestone by earning a master’s degree in psychology/school counseling from USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.
Amberley’s success in rodeo, despite physical limitations, led to her second calling. As a motivational speaker, she loves connecting with people to open hearts, motivate and challenge those around her.
Amberley travels extensively and has crafted a career that serves as a way to make a living, as well as give back to others through her foundation. The Amberley Snyder Freedom Foundation, which she personally oversees, provides tools and services to youth and young adults with special needs and disabilities that support their freedom, growth, happiness and independence.
Amberley’s inspirational story garnered media attention and, in 2019, Netflix released the film Walk Ride Rodeo, a biopic based on her life. She has also published a book, had a character in the Paramount Network show Yellowstone based on her and appeared in the 2020 Rose Bowl Parade.
Always a competitor, Amberley qualified for her first Pro Rodeo Wilderness Circuit Finals in 2021 and 2022. She continues to compete as a professional athlete and has become one of the most sought-after social influencers and motivational speakers in western sports.
For more information on Homecoming week, visit the Homecoming website: usu.edu/homecoming.
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