Graduating from Angelo State set Laura Elms on her career path as a teacher that has spanned over five decades, but her connection to ASU began long before she was a student.
A San Angelo native, Elms had an aunt and uncle who lived close to campus, and she could see it from their house.
“I would look up the street to a magical place of big trees and floating banners,” Elms said. “One day, I asked my dad, ‘What is that place?’ He answered that it was San Angelo Junior College and that it was where students went when they graduated from high school. I had no idea what that meant, but I told him that I would go there some day, and sure enough, I did.”
After graduating from Central High School, Elms was helped by a family friend, Dr. Jack Wilhelm, to attain the scholarships she needed to attend what was then San Angelo College.
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Elms said. “I just didn’t know how to get there. But I got such awesome support from the faculty and administrators. They were always there to support the students and believe in us.”
Besides earning her English degree, Elms also became Angelo State’s first female student body president, worked on the yearbook and designed the first official Angelo State senior ring. But her favorite memory is working on the inauguration events for long-time former ASU President Lloyd Vincent in 1967.
“It was an amazing time, and I got to be part of it representing the student body,” Elms said. “I had to learn all about academic regalia because I was in charge of setting it up. But those were wonderful moments because Dr. Vincent was pretty special.”
“When my students enter my classroom, they know they are a ‘member’ of our Ram Fam as they are surrounded by ASU reminders.”
Now in her 52nd year of teaching in San Angelo, Elms has been dubbed the SAISD’s “Golden Girl” and a “Remarkable Woman of San Angelo.” But she has never forgotten her alma mater and remains an active recruiter for ASU at Lake View High School.
“When my students enter my classroom, they know they are a ‘member’ of our Ram Fam as they are surrounded by ASU reminders,” Elms said. “Plus, the first thing they see when they walk down the hall to my classroom is my Fiat Lux wall full of ASU decorations. They know from the minute they walk into my room that they should go as a ram.”
“The greatest joy of teaching is being a part of so many lives,” she added. “Many of my students become part of my extended family and they continue to bless my life long after they graduate. ASU made all of this possible.”
For her distinguished career and embodiment of the Ram Family spirit, the Alumni Association has named Elms its Golden Ex of the Year.
“I’m astonished,” Elms said. “It’s truly an honor because ASU means so much to me.”
Elms’ late husband, Alan Ekert, her son, Peter Paul Barizon, and her daughter-in-law, Jessica Manning, also graduated from Angelo State. Several of her former students are members of the ASU faculty and staff, and many more of them graduate from ASU every year.