October 13, 2017
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Huntingdon Honors 11 Alumni during Homecoming 2017
Montgomery, Ala.—Huntingdon College honored eleven alumni during the 2017 Homecoming Awards Ceremony, Saturday, October 7. Dr. Michele Scharff Olson, Class of 1986, and Dr. Gregory A. Waller, Class of 1980, both of Montgomery, Alabama, were honored with the Alumni Achievement Award. The College recognized Mary K. McGuffey, Class of 1994, of Smyrna, Georgia; Winifred Lightfoot Stakely, Class of 1966, of Montgomery; and Diane Smith Wendland, Class of 1953, with the Alumni Loyalty Award. R. Walker Garrett of Columbus, Georgia, received the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Four former student-athletes and one former coach were inducted into the College’s Athletic Hall of Fame: Caitlin McMahon Hagan, Class of 2012, and Dr. Kent Hagan, Class of 2011, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Bill Hamilton, Class of 1982, of Cantonment, Florida; David Myrick, Class of 1967, of Mobile, Alabama; and former Hawks golf coach John Sadie, of Montgomery.
Alumni Achievement Award Recipients
Dr. Michele Scharff Olson ’86, a native of Oregon and adjunct member of the Huntingdon faculty, has published nearly 90 peer-reviewed studies and presented her research in human performance internationally. Frequently quoted as an expert in sports and fitness articles in national magazines, she was awarded the title of Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine in 1999 for her outstanding service in the discipline of research physiology. Olson served as a member of the Auburn University-Montgomery faculty, receiving AUM’s highest teaching honors, including the University Outstanding Research Professor, the University Outstanding Teaching Professor, the Outstanding Service Professor, and the University’s Excellence in Outreach Award. Huntingdon has named its human performance laboratory in Olson’s honor.
“Receiving this award from my alma mater touches my heart and spirit deeply,” said Olson. “To me, this award illustrates how successful the College is in providing the foundation for all of its graduates to have the opportunity to engage in our world and to serve that world.”
Dr. Greg Waller ’80, a biology major at Huntingdon, earned his medical doctorate degree from the University of Florida in 1987, where he was awarded numerous distinctions in recognition of scholastic and personal attributes essential to the art of medical practice. He completed his OB-GYN residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1991 and received the Top Gun Award for his superlative surgical technique.Today, Waller is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist. As the founder of OB-GYN Associates of Montgomery, he provides state-of-the-art obstetric services with special emphasis and training in gynecological surgeries, including pelvic prolapse, stress urinary incontinence, fibroids, and infertility. He was the first to bring robotic surgery to Baptist Medical Center East. He was recently honored with the Best Clinical Educator Award, selected by University of Alabama-Birmingham medical students. Waller has served as chief of staff and OB/GYN department chair at Baptist Medical Center East. He is a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the Medical Association of Alabama.
“It is an honor to receive the Alumni Achievement Award from Huntingdon College; however, the honor really goes to Huntingdon,” said Waller. “Being a student at Huntingdon was instrumental in giving me the encouragement and opportunity of a lifetime. My professors not only helped prepare me academically, but they helped prepare me for a life of service.Their example and dedication encouraged me to become a physician and achieve goals that I had never thought possible.”
Alumni Loyalty Award Recipients
Mary K. McGuffey ’94 is a third-generation legacy of Huntingdon College. A psychology major, she was also a four-year member of the tennis team and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi women’s fraternity. Professionally, she works with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and has continued to play tennis with the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association. She is a faithful member of the Huntingdon Society; has been inducted into the College’s John Massey Heritage Society; and has served as the president and vice president of the Huntingdon College National Alumni Association. A prolific fundraiser for the College, she is a regular attendee at Huntingdon Homecoming and other alumni gatherings.
Winifred “Winnie” Lightfoot Stakely and her husband, Charlie, a former Huntingdon trustee, have long been supporters of Huntingdon arts and athletic programs. They are frequent attendees at cultural events on campus and members of the Huntingdon Society. Stakely is a member of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees and the Working Woman’s Home Association. She has previously served as either president or chairman of the Junior League of Montgomery Board of Directors, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the Community Foundation, Family Sunshine Center, Working Woman’s Home Association, and Group Homes for Children. She has also served on the boards for MACOA, the United Way, The Montgomery Academy, Brantwood Children’s Home, and the Landmarks Foundation. She volunteers with Meals on Wheels, the Montgomery Symphony, and the Respite Ministry.
Diane Smith Wendland ’53 has served on the Huntingdon College Board of Trustees since 1971, earning the recognition of lifetime member. She and her husband, Milton “Buzz” Wendland, are members of many giving societies at the College. Their daughters, Suzie Wendland Rhodes ’80 and Margaret Wendland Miller ’95, are Huntingdon graduates, and their granddaughter, Margaret Diane Rhodes, is a member of the Class of 2021. Wendland has volunteered with the American Red Cross, serving on the local Board of Directors. She has served on the boards of the Louise M. Smith Center, the Montgomery Area Mental Health Board, and the Davis Theatre, and currently serves on the Autauga County DHR board and in the Autauga County Cattlewomen Association and the Askesis Club.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
R. Walker Garrett ’07, a political science major at Huntingdon, earned his juris doctorate from Mercer Law School. He is a partner with the Finley Firm, where he handles major mass tort and class action projects. He is the lead attorney for the Finley Firm’s representation of business and individual clients for the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. He also handles commercial and business litigation disputes. A member of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, he served on the board of the General Practice and Trial Section of the Georgia Bar Association, captaining their first “Ask-a-Lawyer” pro bono day. In his community, Garrett served as board chairman for The Literacy Alliance and serves on the statewide board for MyTeamTriumph, as well as the boards for the Columbus Rotary Club, the Greater Columbus Young Professionals, and the Direct Services Corporation, where he is a Meals on Wheels volunteer. He is the recipient of the “Five under Forty Award” by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Columbus and the Valley Magazine, and the “40 under 50 Award” by Columbus Magazine. In 2017, The Literacy Alliance and Columbus Technical College established the R. Walker Garrett Literacy GED Scholarship in recognition of his work to further community literacy. Most recently, he was named a “Rising Star in 2017″ by Georgia Super Lawyers Magazine. An avid participant in politics, he serves the Muscogee County Young Republicans as executive vice president and general counsel and is in his second term on the Columbus City Council.
“I would not be where I am today without the profound influence Huntingdon College had on my life and the servant leadership lifestyle the college provided to me,” said Garrett. “Service to the community is a way of life at Huntingdon, and the many charitable opportunities I was able to participate in formed a lifestyle of giving back. In addition to the service aspect, the many organizations in which I was able to participate, particularly in leadership roles, gave me the confidence and skills needed to be successful and a leader in my own community.”
Huntingdon Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
Caitlin McMahon Hagan ’12 is the most decorated women’s cross country runner in Huntingdon history. She earned Great South Athletic Conference individual championships in 2008, 2009, and 2010, and helped lead the Hawks to two team championships in 2009 and 2010. A four-year member of the women’s cross country team, she earned MVP honors from 2008 through 2011 and was named to the GSAC All-Conference Team and the GSAC All-Academic Team each of those years. She received national accolades in 2010 as an NCAA/USTFCCCA Women’s Cross Country Academic All-American and a member of the All-Region Team for the South/Southeast. She was named 2010–2011 Huntingdon College Female Athlete of the Year. Professionally, McMahon Hagan has continued her work in the physical therapy industry since graduating from Huntingdon. She has also been involved in the development of younger runners as an assistant track and field coach for William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia. She is pursuing an MBA at Philadelphia University.
Dr. Kent Hagan ’11 was part of four team conference championships at Huntingdon and held two individual conference titles as a member of the tennis and cross country teams from 2006 to 2010. He captured the Great South Athletic Conference individual championships in cross country in 2009 and 2010, placing third in 2008. He was part of team conference championships in 2008 and 2010. In both 2009 and 2010 he was named the GSAC Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Year and received the Huntingdon College Cross Country MVP Award. He was a three-year member of the GSAC Men’s Cross Country All-Academic Team. In tennis, he contributed to team championships in 2008 and 2009 and was a four-year member of the GSAC Men’s Tennis All-Academic Team, named to GSAC All-Conference Teams in 2007, 2009, and 2010. In 2010 he was named the Huntingdon College Male Athlete of the Year. After earning degrees in biochemistry and biology, he earned his M.D. at the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Medicine. He has published and presented multiple scientific articles in journals and conferences, including the Journal of Neurotrauma, Society for Neuroscience, and Academy of Academic Physiatrists. Hagan is a resident in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and serves as assistant team physician for the University of Pennsylvania’s track and field teams. He is also completing a master’s degree in business administration from Auburn University.
Bill Hamilton ’82 coached for 26 years, earning a record of 703 wins and 468 losses. He retired in 2010 after 20 years at Pensacola State College (formerly Pensacola Junior College), where he served as athletic director, overseeing men’s and women’s basketball, softball, volleyball, baseball, and intramurals, as well as the college’s aquatics and life fitness centers. In 2004, Hamilton led PJC to their first ever state baseball championship and a sixth place finish in the JUCO World Series, while also capturing the Tomas Howard Sportsmanship Trophy. Hamilton was named the FCCAA Coach of the Year, NJCAA Region VIII Coach of the Year, and the ABCA/Diamond Regional Coach of the Year for NJCAA Division I. In 2008, Hamilton became the all-time career leader in wins at PJC, finishing the year with 561 as the Pirates rolled to a 43-8 record, a conference championship, and an NJCAA National Poll #1 ranking for the last six weeks of the poll. An experienced clinician and speaker with more than 175 appearances to his credit, Hamilton added international coaching to his resume with trips to Puerto Rico, Australia, Europe, and the Bahamas. He was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame and into the Pensacola Sports Association’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
David G. Myrick ’67, a member of the Hawks basketball and tennis teams, also made an appearance on the golf team in one match when sickness depleted the golf team roster. Upon graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy and was commissioned ensign, USNR, through AOCS. He served aboard the USS Coral Sea and made two deployments to Southeast Asia in support of military operations in Vietnam. In addition to his primary duties, Myrick took on the collateral duty of serving as player/coach for the ship’s basketball team. When released from active duty, he affiliated with the Naval Reserve and retired in 1994 as a captain. Among his awards are the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation with gold star, and the Vietnam Service Medal. After earning his master’s degree, he taught and coached for Holtville High School and Houston County. In 1978, Myrick went to work for Alabama Farm Bureau Insurance (now ALFA), retiring as a district manager for Mobile/Baldwin County 30 years later. During his career, he received numerous industry and company awards and earned the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation from The American College. Myrick has been active in the Huntingdon College Alumni Association, serving as national president from 1985 to 1987. He also served as the alumni member on the Board of Trustees and was a recipient of the College’s Loyalty Award in 1994. A founding member of the Huntingdon Athletic Hall of Fame Council and its first chairman, under his leadership the council raised the funds to build the press box/grandstands at the College’s baseball field.
After playing four years at the University of Arkansas, John Sadie began coaching at Huntingdon College in 1990. In his second year leading the Hawks, Huntingdon won the 1992 NAIA National Championship, beating top-ranked University of North Florida.The Hawks then finished second in the national tournament in 1993, and were crowned national champions again in 1994. In 1994, Sadie was selected to coach the World University Games in Spain, where he selected four of the best players in the nation to represent the United States, including four-time All-American Ben Whitlock ’97. At Huntingdon, Sadie coached 22 All-Americans, graduating all but one of his student-athletes (that “one” left college early to pursue a professional career in which he would go on to play on the PGA Tour). Later coaching for Central Alabama Community College, Sadie’s golf teams won national championships in 1999 and 2000 and were runners-up in 2001. In 2006 he began a career in the golfing industry, now working as clubhouse manager for Wynlakes Golf & Country Club.
Grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the United Methodist Church, Huntingdon is committed to nurturing growth in faith, wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. The College motto is “Enter to grow in wisdom; go forth to apply wisdom in service.”
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