By Annabelle Smallwood, Staff Reporter
Hardin-Simmons University Alumni Services are hosting an Alumni Awards Banquet the weekend of homecoming. The purpose of this banquet is to honor the achievements of HSU’s alumni. Throughout homecoming week, the university will be issuing eight awards.
Athletics will give out four awards to the Athletic Hall of Fame. These awards are given to people who were significant in their time at HSU and who have continued their pursuit of athletics moving forward. These will be given out at the Thursday night banquet.
According to the HSU alumni awards website, Sadye (Hill) Smalls will be rewarded for being “one of the most decorated softball players in HSU history.”
Ashley (Allen) Huston will be rewarded for her achievements that she earned throughout her basketball and track & field career. She won three national titles and five all-American medals in her one year on the women’s track team. She also won the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon with still-standing NCAA records.
Josh Knox will be rewarded for his achievements in football. He won the Rimington Trophy as the top center in the nation after the 2006 season, was named a first-team all-American by the National Football Coaches Association, D3football.com and Don Hansen Football Gazette and was the 2006 ASC lineman of the year and was first-team all-ASC.
Whitney (Piendak) Stone will be rewarded for her achievements in soccer. She led her team to the NCAA Elite Eight. She broke a school record, was a four-time all-ASC first-team selection and was the ASC player of the year.
During the Friday night banquet, four other individuals will be awarded for their achievements. Jenn Waldmann, the assistant vice president of Advancement Alumni and Donor Engagement, explained how the awards are selected through a committee process. “Each of them are nominated by faculty, staff and piers,” Waldmann said.
Hilton Hemphill from the class of 1963 will be receiving the John J. Keeter, Jr. Service Award. This is the highest award that HSU can bestow upon an alumnus, and it has been presented since 1943. Hemphill graduated from HSU with his Bachelor of Arts in economics. After getting his Master of Business Administration from Columbia University, he served two nine-year terms as trustee of HSU. He is now a member of HSU’s Board of Development.
Dr. Cathy (Fisher) Ashby from the class of 1982 will be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award. Ashby is an education/non-profit executive and she has served in various high schools and middle schools. In 2013, she became the President and CEO of United Way of Abilene. Through working with United Way, Ashby helps the lives of children, families and senior citizens.
Julie (Joiner) Hammer from the class of 1994 will also be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award. She earned her Bachelor of Behavioral Science in interdisciplinary studies from HSU. She then went on to earn her Master of Arts in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1997. She has served as minister of childhood education at two churches. She has written a VBS and Sunday School curriculum for the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ Baptist Way Press. Among other accomplishments, she has remained active at HSU not only as an alumna, but also as a homecoming volunteer.
Brigadier General Ronald Harvell from the class of 1983 will also be receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award. He is the Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon. He is over a Chaplain Corps of approximately 2,000 chaplains and religious affair airmen from the active duty and Air Reserve components. He also advises the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on religious, ethical and quality-of-life concerns.
The awards that these alumni will be receiving are golden plates. The plates are 10 inches for the Distinguished Alumni Award and 12 inches for the Keeter Alumni Service Award. The alumni will then be recognized on Saturday at the football game on the end zone near the Fletcher Fitness Center. “It is important to honor your own and to reconnect with them. It’s a very special moment, and it is long overdue,” Waldmann said.