Alumni Weekend 2008 was crowned on Saturday, June 14, by the All-Alumni Reception and Award Ceremony on the Campus Green. Although Saturday had started a bit dreary and rainy, that had changed by late afternoon, and it was an absolutely beautiful day – bright and sunny, not too hot, not too cool.
Between that and the extraordinary food and beverages provided by AVI, it seemed like nearly all of the 700 to 750 participants in this year’s Alumni Weekend were present with bells on for this reception.
After we all spent some time enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, Hiram College Trustee and Alumna Kathy Coleman ’87 presented this year’s alumni awards.
Claudia Highbaugh ’72 received the Alumni Achievement Award. Claudia earned her Doctor of Ministry from the School of Theology at Claremont, and served for 12 years as the Chaplain at the Harvard Divinity School, with responsibilities for the program of ministry and ministerial studies in the Master of Divinity Program. She is currently the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she has served her faith community as a delegate to the National Council of Churches Governing Board and both the General Board and the Administrative Committee of the General Church. Her published work covers research and writing as an advocate for children and youth, especially in the areas of literacy and health care. Through her years of service and leadership, she has blazed her own special trail, educating young women and men that the world can be, with their help, a more accepting, productive and loving place.
Marie (Mahn) Presher ’30 journeyed to Hiram from Florida to attend the reunion and to receive the Lifelong Leadership Award. Marie was born in Ohio, the daughter of a minister, so she learned of giving at an early age, and giving has been the focus of much of her 100+ years. Many of her contributions she has done anonymously, because, as she says, giving is a gift in itself and needs no acknowledgment. She still volunteers with the church every Monday at the Community Co-op Ministries (soup kitchen) – she has been doing this for decades. Her contributions to her community have been substantial – monetary and of her time and kindness – and have been ongoing throughout her lifetime. Marie exemplifies the leadership traits of generosity, kindness, and decency – and has done so for more than a century.
Bethany N. Stoian ’06 couldn’t be here to receive the Recent Graduate Service to Humanity Award, because she is currently serving in her second year with the Peace Corps in Aryk-Balyk, Kazakhstan; her mother and aunt were present on her behalf. Beth is an English teacher, serving 5th through 11th grade students of varying language skills. She has provided individual tutoring, and worked cooperatively with other Kazakh teachers by team teaching. She attended several conferences where she and another volunteer taught sessions on classroom activities and gave demonstrations on teaching phonetics. She has organized a teachers’ conference for her own district, and coordinated a leadership camp for girls. She continues to work hard at learning both Kazakh and Russian. Her efforts will have long-term effects that will continue to grow beyond the time of her service. Beth is doing more than just advancing knowledge, she is inspiring students and the people she meets, and they in turn are inspiring her.
After the awards were presented, we all continued to visit, eat finger foods (finger feasts would be a better description), and talk about what was old, what was new, and what is up-and-coming at Hiram. And we probably would have stayed beyond the 6:30 ending time – except then it was time to head to our reunion dinners…