Emporia State honored seven alumni at the annual Alumni Awards Banquet last Thursday for their achievements following graduation. Three alumni were chosen for the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award, and four were chosen to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Howard West was one of three outstanding graduates who received the award at the banquet. He said that his education at ESU gave him the well-rounded background he needed to be successful in the business world and that he was excited when he found out he was being honored by the university.
“I’ve been to international assignments. I’ve traveled the world,” West said. “I’ve been doing several things, and then to have an award like this, I believe it ranks up there…very high as far as an achievement.”
West currently lives in Boston, Mass. and graduated from ESU in 2007 with a master’s degree in instructional design and technology. He is currently a technical support engineer and helps in training and development on aviation and public safety.
Leah Childers, another alumna recognized at the ceremony, graduated in 2005 with her master’s in mathematics and is currently an assistant professor at Pittsburg State University. Childers said that her experiences at ESU were vital to her success following graduation.
“I learned how to teach here and had a great foundation which I use every day in the classroom,” Childers said. “There’s never a time when they teach you how to teach, so that education background makes me a better professor.”
Childers also earned a doctorate in mathematics from Louisiana State University in 2010. While at ESU, Childers was active in Kappa Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honor society, and was a 2003 Outstanding Senior.
Cory Haag was the third outstanding recent graduate to be recognized. Haag is the director of Operations for Haag Management in Emporia. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in business management. In 2011, Haag oversaw the development of the Kellogg Plaza and Lofts near campus on Commercial Street and continues to work with businesses and groups in Emporia.
“I think the most important thing as you get out there is not to be scared to really go out there and sell yourself,” Haag said. “When it comes to interviewing, really go interview and really try to go out and get a great job from the get-go.”
Dale E. Cushinberry, Norma Lu Haffenstein, Dianne Welsh and Floyd Hoelting each received ESU’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. Hoelting is currently the executive director of the division of housing and food at the University of Texas and has had more than 40 years of experience in higher education. Hoelting said that his education at ESU prepared him in more ways than just academically.
“There are things I learned just being here, and I always say that here (ESU) you get an education down on the ground, you get fundamentals and life and leadership and all those kinds of things,” Hoelting said.
The recipients for each award are chosen in different ways. The outstanding graduates have to be 10 years or less away from their degree and are chosen by the deans and faculty of their school, whereas the distinguished alumni have a slightly more exhaustive process.
Distinguished alumni are nominated by a faculty member, administrator or another alumnus, and then their nomination is sent to a committee made up of members of the Alumni Board, representatives from each school, the Alumni Foundation, and the president. This committee then chooses, usually, between three and five alumni to receive the award.