Notable & Newsworthy: Alumni in the Spotlight
Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award
Cindi Arnett Hemm ’77 received the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Carolyn Helman Lichtenberg Crest Award in recognition of her professional achievements. A dedicated educator in the Tulsa, Okla. area, Arnett Hemm is credited with helping public schools in the Tulsa area reach new levels of success.
Arnett Hemm began her career as a speech pathologist and teacher, transitioned into the role of a building administrator, and then become the principal of Eugene Field Elementary School.
While principal, Arnett Hemm took the low-income school with struggling academic scores and turned it into a successful A+ School as well as a Positive Behavior Support School.
Because of Arnett Hemm’s efforts, Eugene Field Elementary is the birthplace of “Global Gardens,” a program that allows students and families to plant, harvest, sell and enjoy fresh produce.
Now retired as principal from Eugene Field Elementary, Arnett Hemm still works as an educational consultant for many low-performing schools across the country. She shares her journey of transforming Eugene Field Elementary in her book Miracle on Southwest Boulevard.
Medical Director and Founder of Complete Family Medicine in Kirksville, Mo. Justin Puckett, DO has been elected president of the Missouri Society of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (MSACOFP). Puckett earned a bachelor’s degree from Drury in 2001.
The MSACOFP is a network of osteopathic family physicians dedicated to providing the finest family medical care in Missouri. The society actively works to defend, preserve, promote and protect the rights and interests of the osteopathic family physician.
Drury MBA Alumnus Gives Back to Alma Mater
Brian Williams, a CoxHealth vice president, received his MBA from Drury in 2010, and now he’s paying it forward. On November 20, 2012, Williams donated $25,000 to his alma mater. He named the endowment The Robert S. Williams and Hallie B. Williams Scholarship in honor of his parents, and it will help fund study abroad trips and defray tuition costs for MBA students.
A Drury Degree Three Decades in the Making
Tom Whitlock was honored with a private graduation ceremony in Stone Chapel, during which president Todd Parnell conferred a Bachelor’s degree on him.
In the summer of 2012, Allin Sorenson, the chair of Drury’s music department, read a story about Whitlock being honored at the Library of Congress along with other songwriters who had written iconic American songs. Dr. Sorenson called Whitlock, who splits his time between Springfield and Nashville, and asked him why he had never received his undergraduate degree.
Whitlock explained that during his college years at Drury, he had been taking writing jobs and recording with his band “No Slack,” and at the end of his college career, had two piano proficiency exams left to complete. He never took those exams because he was busy composing the theme for the 1988 Summer Olympics, composing the theme for a World Cup soccer tournament, and writing five songs for the 1986 movie “Top Gun.”
Whitlock now holds his Bachelor of Arts and an honorary doctorate from Drury University.
Family Creates Strong Ties to Drury
By Megan Waterman ’13
Michelle ’93 and Brent ’93 Sechler’s love story started before their Drury story began. As Pleasant Hope High School sweethearts, they graduated two years apart but that did not stop them from being together. Brent started his collegiate career in 1985 at Southwest Missouri State, but he soon transferred to Drury. When Michelle graduated high school in 1987, she knew that Drury was the obvious choice for her. Her time at a small high school made her want a college that felt like home.
Michelle began to take classes at Drury and work for Gale Boutwell in the registrar’s office in 1987. Several years flew by and soon Michelle and Brent were completing their last semester at Drury, taking 21 and 19 hours respectively, while keeping up with their two-year-old daughter, Stephanie. But they both made it through those rough few months and now are successful in their careers. Brent earned his degree in accounting and business administration and now is a bookkeeper for Print Group, Inc. Michelle uses her degree in education, along with a Masters in Administration from William Woods, at Willard high school as its A+ coordinator and instructional coach.
The Sechlers have long since graduated, but the family has not left Drury. Brent and Michelle’s daughter, Stephanie, graduated from Drury with a degree in elementary education in December 2012. The Sechlers raised Stephanie and their younger daughter, Krystine, around Drury. They were part of the original Lady Panther boosters, and they brought their daughters to many games at Weiser Gym. The girls also attended several basketball camps during their childhood. The Sechlers celebrated their 25th anniversary in June 2012.
Two alumni from the Hammons School of Architecture, Christopher Johnson ’02 and Ramona Albert ’03, received the American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York Chapter Award for “Best Unbuilt Project” in recognition of their design of a small chapel in Romania.
Johnson lives and works in New York and has recently accepted an invitation to serve as a member of Hammons School of Architecture’s newly formed Professional Advisory Council.
Albert is working as an assistant professor of architecture at Syracuse University.