Alumni Awards Banquet hits 'home'

Alumni Awards Banquet hits home

Kevin Meyer has been at Doane only a few months. Appointed over the summer as the college’s new vice president for advancement, he is – admittedly – still learning about the college and its legacy.

But at Sunday’s Alumni Awards Banquet in Perry Memorial Campus Center, just moments after watching 10 graduates climb to the podium in honor of their professional accomplishments, Meyer said he gained a greater grasp on what the college is all about.

KevinMeyerAlumniAwards.jpg“These are the examples of what a Doane degree and the experience can do,” Meyer said.

And each recipient at the final event of 2013 Homecoming had a remarkable story of how their lives were affected by the college.

Jim Beatty ’70, a successful businessman and civil rights advocate, and Army veteran Brad Larson ’05, a Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient, each accepted the Paul Kersenbrock Humanitarian Award.

Beatty, the president and founder of NCS International Inc. in 1982, has championed multiple projects on African-American history and is also president for the Great Plains Black History Museum.

On Sunday, he spoke about being inspired during his time at Doane and how it propelled him into his life’s work. “That’s why I will promote Doane to my dying breath and to help Doane find its future students,” Beatty said at the tail end of an impassioned speech that lasted more than 10 minutes.

Larson, a Chambers, Neb. native, also received the college’s humanitarian award for his selfless actions during a 2009 firefight during a deployment in Afghanistan. With the help of a comrade, he managed to evacuate a wounded soldier and two others who were killed in action during the engagement.

What helped him during his time in the military, Larson said, was a “bend-but-don’t-break” mindset he learned playing football for Doane. “I took that mentality into the military,” Larson said.

The stories kept coming.

Michael Morris ’78 was this year’s Platt Music Alumni Award honoree, rewarded for 34 years of service – the last 27 in Crete Public Schools – as a director of choral music. He has also been an adjunct professor with Doane’s music department.

Natalie Nelsen Schneider ’05, who overcame cancer to help the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team capture gold medals in 2008 and 2010, took home the Young Alumni Award.

Former Tiger athletes Hans Ingold ’81 and Mary Rainforth Theiler ’90 were Honor D recipients.

Theiler, a three-sport athlete who excelled in basketball during her time at Doane, was one of the founders of Community Rehab Physical Therapy in 1993, which went on to open 10 clinics in its first 10 years in the Omaha area.

“I can’t thank Doane enough for their part in my life,” Theiler said.

Ingold is a leader in the aerospace and defense industry. As director of contracts for Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems, he has devoted much of his time working in the Middle East. Before that, though, he played football for former Doane and current University of South Dakota coach Joe Glenn.

He remembers seeing the Honor D room during his recruiting visit. “I never imagined that my name would one day be on that wall,” Ingold said.

Also honored were Helen Fagan ’08A with the Exceptional Service Award, and Jessie Tucker Carlson’99,’02E,’05E with the Educator of the Year Award.

President Jacque Carter delivered the Builder Award to Richard ’57 and Helen Sysel ’58 Vasak. The couple met while studying in Crete before moving to Santa Monica, Calif., where they started electronics and servomotor manufacturer Glentek Inc. They stayed involved with Doane by hosting alumni events on the west coast and Richard served on the college’s Board of Trustees for a nine-year stretch.

“We know your love of this unwavering,” Carter said during his introduction of the two.

The awards capped a full week of events put on by the Alumni Office. From events at the Lincoln and Grand Island campuses during the week to Saturday night’s 5K Glow Run to the Alumni Awards Banquet, Doane’s history was apparent.

But where the college can go – based on that very past – was also evident, especially to Meyer. “I see a campus community and alumni community that has great expectations,” Meyer said.

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