What do Alex Rodriguez and Jonathan Vilma have in common? Not only are they both New York sports heroes—A-Rod for the Yankees and Vilma for the Jets—now they are recipients of University of Miami Alumni Association Awards. The UMAA recognized the athletes this spring along with other deserving individuals.

Rodriguez, Honorary Alumnus ’04, is one of Major League Baseball’s top homerun hitters and all-around players. A native of Miami and a lifelong Hurricanes fan, Rodriguez has provided support for much-needed renovations to the baseball stadium, which was renamed Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park. He received the Edward T. Foote II Alumnus of Distinction Award for his outstanding achievements and continued devotion to the University.

Vilma, B.B.A. ’04, Outstanding Young Alumnus, has demonstrated an unselfish love of alma mater. A middle linebacker known for jet-fast speed, Vilma takes the time to meet with UM students on and off the field, as well as with University faculty, staff, and administrators, to offer advice and assistance in whatever capacity he can.

The UMAA presented the Henry King Stanford Alumnus of the Year Award posthumously to Ernesto D’Escoubet II, B.S.E.E. ’65, M.S.E.E. ’70, who served as UM trustee, Alumni Board of Directors member, President’s Council member, George E. Merrick Society member, and College of Engineering mentor. With his death in April, the University suffered the tremendous loss of a beloved friend.

Neal Sonnett, A.B. ’64, J.D. ’67, recipient of the William R. Butler Community Service Award, is a highly lauded criminal lawyer in Miami who also devotes much of his time to pro bono work. He chaired the 2002-2004 American Bar Association Task Force on the Treatment of Enemy Combatants and was named the ABA’s official observer for the military commission trials in Guantanamo, Cuba.

Other UMAA award recipients include executive director of The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis Suzanne Sayfie, who won the Inside Out Award for helping to reconnect alumni and friends to the University community; Donald Kubit, M.Ed. ’70, J.D. ’74, who won the Green: Outstanding Fundraising award; David Panitch, B.B.A. ’80, who won the Orange: Outstanding Service award; AMIGOS of the Cuban Heritage Collection, which won the White: Outstanding Affiliate Group award; and Frost School of Music students Chung Hoon Park and Nicholas Deysher, who were named Students of Distinction.