Alumni Spotlight

The Office of Alumni Programs works to connect our incredible alumni base to one another by sharing stories, hosting events and nurturing relationships. Whether you earned alumni status this year or many years ago, we are always interested in your accomplishments and would love to learn about the path your life has taken since you left “the Hill.” Continue reading to learn more about some of our outstanding alumni!

Alumnus Andy Gibbons '90 thanks Culver-Stockton College for leading him to the two best parts of his life: his wife of 30 years, Carla, and his successful career as a college football coach. Gibbons counts the relationships he formed on campus as impactful on his career, his personal mission, and his life and considers himself lucky for continuing interactions with “friends, teammates, fraternity brothers, coaches and faculty.”

“I think about Culver still all the time and how lucky I was to be there. Culver-Stockton has had such an impact on my life in so many ways and still does to this day. First, it was where I met my wife Carla and that is the best thing that ever happened to me. Second, it is where I found my true calling for coaching,” Gibbons shared. Little did he know, those relationships and a career-ending injury on the field would lead him to his true calling. “Coach Lemke offered me a spot as student assistant defensive line coach after I injured my ankle. I had no idea what I was doing, but I just knew that is all I wanted to do with my life. Coach Bill Browett, the defensive coordinator at the time, probably got tired of me when I was a student-assistant asking him about how to make a career of college coaching. I will always be grateful for the opportunity Coach Lemke gave me.”  

With Coach Browett’s guidance and the experience he gained as a student-assistant for Wildcat Football, Gibbons has had quite a career as coach at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. During his tenure at Knox, Gibbons has set 46 school records and produced many successful players, including 12 who have been inducted into the Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame. He finished his head coaching career as the second all-time winningest football coach at Knox.

Read More of Andy's Story!

Vern Turner '85 has certainly made use of the lessons he learned on “the Hill!” 

The Chicago native, who grew up playing pick-up basketball with neighbor Isaiah Thomas, shared that his most fond memories of Culver-Stockton College are of his interactions with genuine people, from his professors and Coach Rod Walton to nearly every employee on campus. Now, more than 30 years after leaving “the Hill,” Vern is thankfully able to laugh about the lessons he learned as a Wildcat.

Read More of Vern's Story!

 

Brian Richardson Jr. '11 was named the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Indianapolis Colts on December 1, 2020. 

This position was created to collaborate with all departments within the Colts organization, with a goal of developing and implementing strategies around social responsibility, inclusive hiring, supplier diversity and education and training.

When asked about his time on “the Hill.” Richardson replied, “I owe a lot of who I am today to my time spent on ‘the Hill.’ Culver-Stockton College helped lay a solid foundation for me to grow and develop into the professional and person I am today. Through the mentorship I received, from amazing student affairs professionals like Bob Dudolski, Joe Stubbs, and Wendy Powers, or dedicated coaches and teammates like Coach Guenther, Coach Strobel, Jamartae Jackson, Wayne Morris, and many more, I learned more about myself and was surrounded by a supportive community. I also found my voice and realized my purpose through my community. C-SC was more than a college for me; it was home. The biggest takeaway from my time at C-SC was learning to cherish and appreciate the people around you who believe in you even when you do not. My community made me who I am, and I am forever grateful for my C-SC experience.”

Read more about Richardson’s new position. 

Coach Carrie (Connell) Mahon '93 led the Plant City Girls’ Basketball Team to victory in the Class 7A state title on February 27 - marking the first girls basketball state title in school history.

Coach Mahon was the Head Women's Basketball Coach and an Assistant Professor at Culver-Stockton College from 1995-2002. During her time as a student athlete at C-SC, Carrie received a 1992 All American honorable mention for women’s basketball and was named a 1993 All American. Mahon was inducted into the C-SC Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual for women’s basketball in 2003 and again in 2010 for her participation on the 1991-92 Team. Coach Mahon was named Conference Player of the Year in both her junior and senior season on “the Hill.” 

When asked about her time at Culver-Stockton College, Mahon shared, “(it) reminds me of a country song...The House That Built Me. Thank you, Kathy Turpin and the Lady Wildcats.”

Pictured is a photo of the Plant City’s Girls Basketball team, courtesy of the Hillsborough County Public Schools’ Athletic Department.

Update: Carrie Mahon Named State’s Overall Coach of the Year

Carrie (Connell) Mahon `93, recently led the girls’ basketball program at Plant City, Florida to its first state title. Mahon was named the state's overall coach of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. She is only the second area coach to ever win the award.

Read more about Mahon’s award.

 

It is cool to be kind. When alumnus Don Tolly '87 opened his American Family Insurance office in St. Joseph, MO, he embraced the Kindness Revolution that was started by Ed Horrell in 2007. Through his book of the same name, Horrell encourages business owners to, “Live it. See it. Pay it Forward,” all through the lens of kindness. Tolly reaches out to members of his community and gives them an award of appreciation for good deeds and shared that most people are surprised when they receive a reward for being kind. He hopes each recipient will pay it forward and keep the Kindness Revolution moving.  

When questioned about his time as a Wildcat, Tolly reflected that, “So much learning took place on 'the Hill,' even the learning of giving back and being a positive role model in our communities. Spreading kindness is just one way of giving back and making a difference, no matter where you live.” In addition to participating in the Kindness Revolution, Don also organizes a blood drive each year in honor of his twin sister Donna Blackwell, who died of cancer in March of 2016. He is also a business partner who supports Project Safe Family in St. Joseph, Mo., which focuses on raising awareness about crime prevention, suicide prevention, child safety and human trafficking, drug and alcohol awareness, bullying and cyber-bullying. Don became involved in the project in response to a personal crisis where one of his family members was a victim of bullying.

“We can all be a part of the Kindness Revolution. You don’t need to join an organization; you can just be kind and keep others in mind. But, if you own your own business, it sets you apart from competing firms,” shared Don. “Kindness is cool.”  

Alumnus Elijah Richardson ’18 founded Detroit-based nonprofit Whose House Our House (WHOH) on June 26, 2019. WHOH Community Sports Complex Inc (WHOH Detroit) has an overall goal of changing the way inner-city youth view law enforcement and, through a unique program built around traditional and nontraditional sports, Elijah and his team work to open communication and build trust. The organization has set out to create a gateway to higher education and pathways to successful careers for inner-city youth, a cause close to Richardson’s heart given his own upbringing and experiences that led him to Culver-Stockton College.

Richardson shared, “The first year was rough because we didn't qualify for many grants due to a lack of financial history. We survived on individual contributions and in-kind donations. Our biggest accomplishment during our first fiscal year was our mentor program, which served over 30 inner-city youth throughout the Metro Detroit area. COVID-19 set us back tremendously by hindering the execution of our events and programming.” 

Richardson is determined to succeed and has high hopes for the future of WHOH - hopes built on his strong partnership with the foundation’s fundraising director, fellow Wildcat Michael Johnson ’19. Together, Richardson and Johnson are setting out to decrease criminal behavior among Detroit youth, which typically stems from a lack of resources, lack of knowledge and poor guidance. These Wildcats are working together with the knowledge that, by providing support, education and opportunities for youth to have positive interactions with law enforcement at a young age, they are actively decreasing the likelihood of a child having negative interactions with law enforcement in the future. The value of a liberal arts education is unmatched, and these Wildcats are demonstrating the importance of learning critical thinking skills, building partnerships and developing an entrepreneurial, change-making spirit.

Dr. Steve Wiegenstein was hired in the fall of 1992 as the assistant professor of journalism at Culver-Stockton and served as the division chair of Humanities and Social Science until 2009. Dr. Wiegenstein always tried to keep a writing project in progress during his teaching years. "It was important to me, not just because writing is my chosen form of creative activity, but because I wanted to model the professional writing life to my students - the joys and struggles, the acceptances and rejections, the whole experience," Wiegenstein shared. Generations of Culver-Stockton College students benefitted from Dr. Wiegenstein’s knowledge, drive and teaching ability, with many of them going on to become professional journalists, technical writers and successful public relations professionals.

Dr. Wiegenstein's own writing output consisted of short stories and articles until 2012, when he published his first novel. Two more novels followed, along with a collection of short stories, Scattered Lights, which was published in November 2020 by Cornerpost Press. Scattered Lights received favorable reviews and eventually made its way on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's "25 Favorite Books of 2020" list. For Dr. Wiegenstein, the biggest surprise was still to come: a nomination as one of 10 finalists for the PEN/Faulkner award, one of the nation's highest literary honors. The PEN/Faulkner Award is generally acknowledged as one of the top three national awards in fiction.

"I was thunderstruck by the nomination," Dr. Wiegenstein said. "I've always believed that my stories had something important to say, but to have that belief validated by a nationwide jury is truly humbling."

To learn more about Dr. Wiegenstein's creative writing, visit his website at http://www.stevewiegenstein.com.

Evan Leake        

Evan Leake '17 is part of the team at WREX-TV in Rockford, Illinois, who recently received a Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Award.

The WREX-TV in Rockford, Illinois received this award for their ‘Lives on the Lines’ series, a comprehensive series that highlights the importance and awareness of Scott's Law or the Move Over Law, which protects first responders while they are conducting traffic stops on the side of the road or highway. This series was spurred following the death of Trooper Brooke Jones Story, an Illinois State Police Trooper from their area who was hit and killed while conducting a traffic stop. Read one of the stories, here. 

Leake shared, "It's an incredibly humbling experience. I honestly don't look at this as an award. It's more of validation for the hard work the WREX team does to make a difference. There were so many people that didn't even know what Scott's Law was and within days of our series starting, I noticed more people slowing down and moving over for first responders on the road. The impact far outweighs the awards. I'm so incredibly thankful to be a part of an award-winning team and for all of the first responders putting their lives on the line every single day for us. I am excited to hopefully add on to this early success in my career." 

The Missouri Association of Colleges recently honored Culver-Stockton College alums Kelley Hufendick '20 (right) and Courtney Feith '19 (left) for Teacher Education as two of their 2021 Outstanding Beginning Teachers. 

Hufendick '20, a 3rd Grade Teacher at IIes Elementary School in Quincy, IL says, “I am very honored to be recognized as an outstanding beginning teacher for 2021. Culver-Stockton College has provided me with so many unique opportunities that have shaped me into the teacher I am today. My college experience was student-centered and personable; that experience has influenced me to carry it into my own classroom as well. Culver-Stockton provided me with a variety of hands-on learning opportunities, which truly helped me to feel prepared and confident when entering the workforce. My favorite thing about teaching is watching my students accomplish their goals. We are continuously setting new goals and it is such an honor to watch them grow every single day.” 

Courtney Feith '19 is an 8th Grade Math/Algebra 1 Teacher at Hannibal Middle School in Hannibal, MO. She says, “The classes and instructors at C-SC taught me a lot about teaching. I left C-SC feeling prepared to teach in a diverse learning environment. The instructors were excellent role models in terms of classroom management and building relationships with students. My favorite thing about teaching is the chance to build relationships with students and impact them in a positive way that makes them want to learn.” 

Read more about their award.

Ben Martin '75, a member of the Alumni Board, received the 2021 Missouri Arts Award. The Missouri Arts Awards celebrate people, organizations and communities that have made profound and lasting contributions to the cultural and artistic climate in Missouri. 

Martin says, “Culver-Stockton gave me the sense that volunteering for ‘extra duty’ was a natural part of any professional career. We were a small school and opportunities to be a part of many different programs were always available. On top of a very busy schedule in the speech and theatre programs, I was involved in Greek life, student government and even served on a study group directed by the college president on ways to improve the structure of the college. That served me well because working in Arts Education is all about extra duties and loving being a part of them.”

Martin retired from Missouri Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) in July 2020, having worked with the Alliance for 10 years in many capacities, including serving as Executive Director from 2013-2020. Before that, his teaching career spanned 34 years. Garnering numerous Teacher of the Year and Hall of Fame awards along the way, Martin taught speech, debate and theater in St. Clair, Harrisonville and Belton before finally landing at Lee’s Summit High School where he stayed for 18 years. Read more about Ben’s Award.

Jesse Uhlmeyer '03, Superintendent of the Canton R-V School District was among seven Missouri school superintendents recognized by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) for outstanding performance as an emerging superintendent.

His colleagues in the Northeast MASA District for this honor nominated Uhlmeyer for the honor. He was recognized during the awards banquet at the MASA Spring Conference on May 24. 

The Emerging Superintendent award is presented annually to superintendents who are in their second or third year of employment as a superintendent and have made a measurable contribution to the school district, which they serve.

“It is humbling to be recognized for this honor,” said Uhlmeyer. “This award does not only reflect my contributions to our students. For me, this award reflects the contributions of our entire school community, teachers, principals, staff, students and parents, who make Canton R-V School District an amazing place to learn and achieve success.”

Uhlmeyer received his bachelor's degree in secondary education from Culver-Stockton College in 2003.

“My time at Culver-Stockton College prepared me tremendously for becoming a lifelong learner and wanting to make a positive impact on the lives of students in my classroom,” said Uhlmeyer. “As I continued my education and moved into school administration, my focus has always remained on impacting students in a positive way each and every day.”

Graham Johnson `08, who played baseball at Culver-Stockton, will be returning for his second season as pitching coach in Corpus Christi, TX after leading the Hooks’ team to a Texas League-record 1,453 strikeouts and club-record .221 opponents' batting average in 2019, both among the top-five marks in MiLB. Johnson spent six years as a coach at Morehead State University prior to joining Houston.

The Hooks open the season on Tuesday, May 4 at 6:35 p.m. against the San Antonio Missions at Whataburger Field.

Read More

 

 

Dr. Aaron Zalis `84, former Superintendent of Rolla Public Schools, was recently honored by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) for his service to public education. Zalis was one of eight former educators to receive the association’s Outstanding Emeritus Educator Award. This special recognition was made during the awards banquet at the MASA Spring Conference on March 24th at the Lodge of the Four Seasons at Lake Ozark, Missouri.

MASA presents this award annually to recognize individuals for their length of administrative service, their participation in MASA while an active member, significant accomplishments as a school administrator, and for their continued interest in public education since retiring.

Zalis was nominated for the award by his colleagues in the South Central MASA District.

Read more about Zalis's award.

 

Pam Moses `87 of Taylorville, IL, has been named the 2021 Illinois Mother of the Year by American Mothers, Inc. Since the mid-1930s, American Mothers, Inc. has named an inspirational mother from nominees across the 50 states.

Pamela was born and raised in Taylorville, Illinois.  After graduating from C-SC and starting her career, Pam added the additional responsibility of raising her children. She transitioned from employee to entrepreneur in 2007. She is family-oriented and has supported her children, Tyler Ann Frump (25) `17 and Brent Allen Frump (23), in their dreams of following in her footsteps and becoming business owners themselves . 

Read More

 

 

Megan A. Lucas `91 is the CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer for Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. Lucas claims that she landed in the field by luck. With a background in higher education and leadership, her various roles during relocations and moves with her husband, Tory ‘92 provided a unique profile for business engagement and economic development work.  Serving first as the inaugural Economic Development Officer for the Town of Altavista, then as the CEO of the Region 2000 Economic Development Partnership, and now as the CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer for the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. Lucas serves on several national boards and loves being part of her region and community.

“So many of the tools I use today I learned at Culver Stockton College. My involvement in Student Affairs and Greek life taught me how to plan and implement meetings (including Roberts Rules) and coordinate events, but especially how to lead. I’ve been building on those skills ever since, and they have served me well. I’m thankful for all the lessons learned both inside and outside of the classroom at Culver, but especially finding the love of my life, Tory Lucas.” 

Read more about Lucas’ journey to becoming CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer, here.

Click here to listen to a podcast Lucas was on where she discussed Leadership.

 

The William Woods University Athletic Department announced Katelyn Clickner `17 as the 2020 Murphy Tetley Award winner. The Murphy Tetley Award is an annual award given to an individual or individuals who have displayed school spirit for the William Woods Athletic Department.  The award is named after William Woods University Faculty Member, Fight Song and Pep Band Creator, and supporter of William Woods Athletics, Murphy Tetley.

Clickner graduated from Culver-Stockton College with a degree in Sports Management in 2017. At William Woods in Fulton, MO, she served as a graduate assistant in the mailroom and earned a Master's of Education in Athletic and Activities Administration in the spring of 2020.

Read More

 

Darrell Bodie `73 
2021 Education Hall of Excellence

Darrell A. Bodie Sr. was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He graduated from Emerson High School where he played basketball, football, track, and baseball. He received a trophy in the 9th grade as the most valuable player on the football team at the All City Center and was chosen Mr. Football among his classmates. After graduation he attended Culver-Stockton College from 1969-1973 on a football scholarship and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Education and Finance. While at Culver-Stockton he worked as a student teacher and was part of the 1969 Wildcats football team that was recognized as having the best winning percentage and tied for the most victories in school history.

After graduation he was invited to a professional NFL camp but instead accepted a position as Head Industrial Engineer at U.S. Steel from 1973 to 1984. He was a substitute before he became a permanent teacher for the Gary Community School Corporation for 35 years from 1985-2020; he taught elementary and secondary education for over three decades. He was dedicated to teaching and believed that every child could learn a skill that could contribute to society in a meaningful way. He taught using real life experiences and believed that learning was best facilitated through explanation.

He wrote in his college admission application, “I hope that college will mean a chance for me to get ahead with people in my own age group. It will also give me a chance for me to get a better job. Since I have played football for four years, this is what I take an interest in very much and this is something I like to play and hope someday to play professional football. A chance to play professional football is my dream with the Baltimore Colts”.  While he never played professional football he used his gift to mentor and coach students at William A. Wirt High School as both defensive and head coach and would see one of his students go on to play in the NFL.

Darrell was a man of integrity who was humble and popular among students, families, and colleagues.  His work ethic, selflessness, and dedication to service will always be remembered.

 

Robert Howe`52 
2021 Education Hall of Excellence

Robert Howe (Class of 1952) obtained his Bachelors in Education from Culver-Stockton College. He went on to complete his Masters Degree in School Administration from Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, MO and his Doctorate of Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. During his time at Culver-Stockton, Dr. Howe was involved as the President of Mu Theta Nu Fraternity as well as the President of the Student Senate. Dr. Howe then went on to serve our country in the U.S. Army from 1952-1954, serving 13 months in Korea. 

After his time in the Army, Dr. Howe held several different roles in the workforce, starting as a Math and PE educator. He later became a principal at Monroe City (MO) High School and then North Kansas City (MO) High School. He went on to serve as an Executive Director for the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP), starting in 1987.  

Howe served as the President of the National Association of Secondary Principals (NASSP) and was invited to the White House three times by President Ronald Reagan. He introduced President Reagan at the NASSP National Convention in 1984. Dr. Howe is the recipient of several awards for excellence in education, including the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Pioneer in Education award, the NASSP Distinguished Service in Education award, and the MASSP Service to Secondary Education Award, which has been named the Robert C. Howe award. In addition, Dr. Howe founded MASSP Missouri Scholars 100, a Celebration of Learning. The program recognizes 100 of the top seniors in the state for their academic contributions. This program has become known as the premier high school graduate recognition program in the nation.

Howe states, "Teaching is a challenging profession. There are endless frustrations, but the rewards are monumental.  It is most satisfying when your students become your lifelong friends."  

 

 

Charles Strain '89

Charles Strain graduated from Culver-Stockton in 1989 before moving his studies to Florence, Italy with Studio Art Centers International. Since graduating, he has been creating bronze sculptures and, over the span of 30 years, has created over 100 individual designs. Once a design is complete, it is recreated in a wide range of sizes, from a few inches tall to monumental. Strain has produced pieces for cities, states, institutions across America, private companies and individuals. Click here to view a selection of his sculptures.

Most recently, he participated in the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival in Winter Park, FL, where he won the Award of Merit. The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious outdoor art festivals. The Festival debuted in March 1960 as a community project to bring local artists and art lovers together. Below, you will see a picture of his sculpture that received the “Award of Merit.”

"The impact from Culver continues to roll over and over in my soul,” Strain shared. “Images of friends, experimentation of art, and life and self blossomed with my art education at Culver thanks to so many that have allowed me to continue. Debra Scoggins Meyer still inspires- thank you, Deb! As for the award, I have had a seemingly peaceful and inspirational COVID-19 sabbatical. It was nice to be able to exhibit safely as COVID-19 regulations in Florida dropped or loosened. The Winter Park Art Fest is one of the oldest outdoor shows put on by volunteers and many of my artist peers exhibit there. After a life of outdoor exhibiting, an honorable award at such a prestigious show always makes one smile.”

 

 

Keelie O’Brien `21

Keelie O’Brien `21, was recently featured in the Quincy Herald-Whig, where she discussed her recent senior capstone project and shared how she challenged herself in a different way.

The Herald-Whig story began, “O’Brien was never a fan of working with pastels, Culver-Stockton College art education major Keelie O’Brien challenged herself to do better. She crafted a senior capstone project of landscapes, all done in pastels and drawn from her own photos taken primarily at her family’s farm.”

“I wanted all my landscapes to have a meaning. They all have a story behind them,” she said.

To read more about O’Brien’s next steps and learn more about her art journey, click here.