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Choosing Southeastern’s Alumnus of the Year

By Zachary Araki
On August 29, 2017

Associate Director of Alumni Programming Jennifer O’Neil  and Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Biggs have been involved in organizing the Alumni Awards Evening. In the event, a distinguished alumnus will be honored as the Alumnus of the Year. Zachary Araki/The Lion’s Roar

The Alumni Association selects an outstanding alumnus to honor every year.

The Alumnus of the Year will be honored at the annual Alumni Awards Evening scheduled for Oct. 6 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. in the War Memorial Student Union Ballroom. No significant changes have been made to the selection process since the Alumnus of the Year honor began. 

“Our awards committee gathers each spring to review nominees that have been suggested by the deans and administration based on a set of criteria of the nominees’ engagement with the university and their accomplishments,” said Executive Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Biggs. “The committee then makes recommendations to Dr. Crain and our board of directors who have the final vote.”

The Young Alumnus of the Year includes those alumni under the age of 35 years while the Alumnus of the Year honors all older graduates. Graduates who have been honored as the Alumnus of the Year or Young Alumnus of the Year before are still eligible for the honor.

“We want to acknowledge that Southeastern produces these wonderful, successful people like our Alumnus of the Year,” said Associate Director of Alumni Programming Jennifer O’Neil. “It’s an opportunity to highlight them and their accomplishments.”

Tickets for the Alumni Awards Evening are available online or by calling 985-549-2150. An individual ticket costs $35. Anyone interested is invited to attend.

“It’s a way to support the university and the people who have left here and went on to do things,” said O’Neil. “We usually have a lot of our alumni chapters that will buy tables, and they come and use it as a way to have a reunion, get back together with all those people they graduated with, and get all those people in one room. I just think it’s a great event, like I said, to acknowledge people’s accomplishments, and it’s a reason to be proud of the people that come out of this university.”

O’Neil described what the honor entails beyond the Alumni Awards Evening.

“The Alumnus of the Year also gets to ride in the homecoming parade,” said O’Neil. “That’s something fun they get to do, and then we acknowledge them at the football game the next day as well.”

Past honorees have included U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Kenneth Ross, Chairman of the Golden Eagle International Group Roger Wang and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Russell Carollo. Biggs discussed the importance of the Alumnus of the Year honor. 

“It is important that we honor our distinguished graduates who have taken their education at Southeastern and have gone on to conquer great feats in their careers and who have continued to give back to their alma mater,” said Biggs.

Beside the Alumnus of the Year, other honors at Alumni Awards Evening include distinguished alumnus from each college, the L.E. Chandler Award and the Kathy L. Pittman Distinguished Service Award.  

“After that, it’s just a lot of making sure we have the word out about who’s being recognized and honored and working with those honorees to make sure they have everything they need to be here that weekend and attend the events,” said O’Neil. “Make sure they have a great time while they’re here.”

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