Knox alumni reflected on the impact of their experiences at Knox on their post-undergraduate lives at the 2013 Alumni Achievement Awards, which celebrated the accomplishments of four distinguished alumni.
The event, held as part of the Founders Day Convocation, was held in the Meulder Room of Seymour Library on Feb. 15. Approximately 60 students, faculty, alumni and administrators attended the event.
Alumni awarded were W. Dudley McCarter ’72, Ann McConachie ’71, Lori Sundberg ’95 and Geoff Ziegler ’03.
Liz Grana ‘06, who spoke to McCarter as a prospective student, introduced McCarter and is now an associate at Behr, McCarter & Potter, a law firm that he helped found.
McCarter admitted to not knowing about Knox when he applied to the college but emphasized that he would have lacked the breadth of knowledge he was exposed to should he not have attended a liberal arts institution.
Along the same lines, McCarter said that he would always be grateful for the education he received at Knox and for the friendships he still maintains as a result of attending.
In closing, he referenced a commencement speech made at the University of Suffolk by author and poet John Masefield.
“‘There are few earthly things more splendid than a university’ … when I come back to Knox, I think of these words, but I change them a little because to me, and I don’t think Mr. Masefield would object, there are few earthly things more splendid than a college like Knox,” McCarter said.
Jerry Tatar ’71 introduced McConachie, noting that she is the fifth member of the class of ’71 to receive this award and that the class had the most of such recipients.
McConachie detailed her path from longtime elementary school teacher to director of the Amka Afrika School in Tanzania, where she also teaches.
Her story included her experience in an African Ethnography course in which she did not complete the final paper, instead turning in a collection of notecards and research materials for a passing B grade.
Though she struggled with her studies in school, her path in life, which has led to her involvement in the Amka Afrika School, McConachie said, has brought her back to the ultimate completion of the course. This story is indicative of the lasting presence of a Knox education and the underlying opportunities it may set in motion.
President Teresa Amott introduced the next recipient, Sundberg, a nontraditional student who is currently serving as president of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg.
Sundberg spoke about the difficulties of attending Knox as a nontraditional student but also noted the importance of the faculty in helping her maintain focus and continue with her scholarship. She described Knox as an institution where students are exposed to the liberal arts and also learn about themselves.
Professor of Chemistry Larry Welch introduced the final recipient, Ziegler, who was awarded the Young Alumni Achievement Award.
Ziegler works for ESPN, where he developed a new method of covering NASCAR races that has now been adopted as the standard means of documenting the sport.
Ziegler expressed his gratitude for the award and his sense of honor in representing the good work of all Knox graduates. He explained that while contacts may help an individual get their foot in the door, the way to maintain a position and excel remains a personal challenge, something that Knox prepared him to meet.
Amott spoke about the purpose of the awards, which are given to distinguished Knox alumni who have expirienced success in their post-graduation careers and endeavors. According to Amott, what alumni do after graduation is proof of the enduring value of a Knox education, a process that is set in motion by faculty and staff and follows in the footsteps of the founders of the college.
Student Senate President senior Michael Gasparro spoke about his experience as a prospective student, getting lost on the Knox campus but in turn finding a college that he would come to love as he spoke to students.
Working for the Office of Admission has offered the ultimate perspective, Gasparro said. He is now involved in bringing new classes of students to the college, a place where passion develops and “engaged students thrive.”
Jean Anderson ’87, Alumni and Career Services Volunteer, opened the event in place of Alumni Council Chair Joyce Hertko ’82 who was unable to attend due to a work emergency.