The Office of Alumni Programs works to connect our incredible alumni base to one another by sharing stories, hosting events and nurturing relationships. Whether you earned alumni status this year or many years ago, we are always interested in your accomplishments and would love to learn about the path your life has taken since you left “the Hill.” Continue reading to learn more about some of our outstanding alumni!
Alumnus Andy Gibbons '90 thanks Culver-Stockton College for leading him to the two best parts of his life: his wife of 30 years, Carla, and his successful career as a college football coach. Gibbons counts the relationships he formed on campus as impactful on his career, his personal mission, and his life and considers himself lucky for continuing interactions with “friends, teammates, fraternity brothers, coaches and faculty.”
“I think about Culver still all the time and how lucky I was to be there. Culver-Stockton has had such an impact on my life in so many ways and still does to this day. First, it was where I met my wife Carla and that is the best thing that ever happened to me. Second, it is where I found my true calling for coaching,” Gibbons shared. Little did he know, those relationships and a career-ending injury on the field would lead him to his true calling. “Coach Lemke offered me a spot as student assistant defensive line coach after I injured my ankle. I had no idea what I was doing, but I just knew that is all I wanted to do with my life. Coach Bill Browett, the defensive coordinator at the time, probably got tired of me when I was a student-assistant asking him about how to make a career of college coaching. I will always be grateful for the opportunity Coach Lemke gave me.”
With Coach Browett’s guidance and the experience he gained as a student-assistant for Wildcat Football, Gibbons has had quite a career as coach at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. During his tenure at Knox, Gibbons has set 46 school records and produced many successful players, including 12 who have been inducted into the Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame. He finished his head coaching career as the second all-time winningest football coach at Knox.
Vern Turner '85 has certainly made use of the lessons he learned on “the Hill!”
The Chicago native, who grew up playing pick-up basketball with neighbor Isaiah Thomas, shared that his most fond memories of Culver-Stockton College are of his interactions with genuine people, from his professors and Coach Rod Walton to nearly every employee on campus. Turner has distinct memories of John “Porky” Ellison, an employee in the Maintenance Department, who helped him fix his car and keep it running. According to Turner, “(Shorty) showed me a different view of life. At Culver, we used to leave our keys in the car ignition all the time and I got used to that trusting lifestyle. I went home to Chicago and two of my cars were stolen because I left the keys in them!” Now, more than 30 years after leaving “the Hill,” Vern is thankfully able to laugh about the lessons he learned as a Wildcat.
Brian Richardson Jr. '11 was named the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Indianapolis Colts on December 1, 2020.
This position was created to collaborate with all departments within the Colts organization, with a goal of developing and implementing strategies around social responsibility, inclusive hiring, supplier diversity and education and training.
When asked about his time on “the Hill.” Richardson replied, “I owe a lot of who I am today to my time spent on ‘the Hill.’ Culver-Stockton College helped lay a solid foundation for me to grow and develop into the professional and person I am today. Through the mentorship I received, from amazing student affairs professionals like Bob Dudolski, Joe Stubbs, and Wendy Powers, or dedicated coaches and teammates like Coach Guenther, Coach Strobel, Jamartae Jackson, Wayne Morris, and many more, I learned more about myself and was surrounded by a supportive community. I also found my voice and realized my purpose through my community. C-SC was more than a college for me; it was home. The biggest takeaway from my time at C-SC was learning to cherish and appreciate the people around you who believe in you even when you do not. My community made me who I am, and I am forever grateful for my C-SC experience.”
Coach Carrie (Connell) Mahon '93 led the Plant City Girls’ Basketball Team to victory in the Class 7A state title on February 27 - marking the first girls basketball state title in school history.
Coach Mahon was the Head Women's Basketball Coach and an Assistant Professor at Culver-Stockton College from 1995-2002. During her time as a student athlete at C-SC, Carrie received a 1992 All American honorable mention for women’s basketball and was named a 1993 All American. Mahon was inducted into the C-SC Athletic Hall of Fame as an individual for women’s basketball in 2003 and again in 2010 for her participation on the 1991-92 Team. Coach Mahon was named Conference Player of the Year in both her junior and senior season on “the Hill.”
When asked about her time at Culver-Stockton College, Mahon shared, “(it) reminds me of a country song...The House That Built Me. Thank you, Kathy Turpin and the Lady Wildcats.”
Pictured is a photo of the Plant City’s Girls Basketball team, courtesy of the Hillsborough County Public Schools’ Athletic Department.
Update: Carrie Mahon Named State’s Overall Coach of the Year
Carrie (Connell) Mahon `93, recently led the girls’ basketball program at Plant City, Florida to its first state title. Mahon was named the state's overall coach of the year by the Florida Dairy Farmers. She is only the second area coach to ever win the award.
It is cool to be kind. When alumnus Don Tolly '87 opened his American Family Insurance office in St. Joseph, MO, he embraced the Kindness Revolution that was started by Ed Horrell in 2007. Through his book of the same name, Horrell encourages business owners to, “Live it. See it. Pay it Forward,” all through the lens of kindness. Tolly reaches out to members of his community and gives them an award of appreciation for good deeds and shared that most people are surprised when they receive a reward for being kind. He hopes each recipient will pay it forward and keep the Kindness Revolution moving.
When questioned about his time as a Wildcat, Tolly reflected that, “So much learning took place on 'the Hill,' even the learning of giving back and being a positive role model in our communities. Spreading kindness is just one way of giving back and making a difference, no matter where you live.” In addition to participating in the Kindness Revolution, Don also organizes a blood drive each year in honor of his twin sister Donna Blackwell, who died of cancer in March of 2016. He is also a business partner who supports Project Safe Family in St. Joseph, Mo., which focuses on raising awareness about crime prevention, suicide prevention, child safety and human trafficking, drug and alcohol awareness, bullying and cyber-bullying. Don became involved in the project in response to a personal crisis where one of his family members was a victim of bullying.
“We can all be a part of the Kindness Revolution. You don’t need to join an organization; you can just be kind and keep others in mind. But, if you own your own business, it sets you apart from competing firms,” shared Don. “Kindness is cool.”
Alumnus Elijah Richardson ’18 founded Detroit-based nonprofit Whose House Our House (WHOH) on June 26, 2019. WHOH Community Sports Complex Inc (WHOH Detroit) has an overall goal of changing the way inner-city youth view law enforcement and, through a unique program built around traditional and nontraditional sports, Elijah and his team work to open communication and build trust. The organization has set out to create a gateway to higher education and pathways to successful careers for inner-city youth, a cause close to Richardson’s heart given his own upbringing and experiences that led him to Culver-Stockton College.
Richardson shared, “The first year was rough because we didn't qualify for many grants due to a lack of financial history. We survived on individual contributions and in-kind donations. Our biggest accomplishment during our first fiscal year was our mentor program, which served over 30 inner-city youth throughout the Metro Detroit area. COVID-19 set us back tremendously by hindering the execution of our events and programming.”
Richardson is determined to succeed and has high hopes for the future of WHOH - hopes built on his strong partnership with the foundation’s fundraising director, fellow Wildcat Michael Johnson ’19. Together, Richardson and Johnson are setting out to decrease criminal behavior among Detroit youth, which typically stems from a lack of resources, lack of knowledge and poor guidance. These Wildcats are working together with the knowledge that, by providing support, education and opportunities for youth to have positive interactions with law enforcement at a young age, they are actively decreasing the likelihood of a child having negative interactions with law enforcement in the future. The value of a liberal arts education is unmatched, and these Wildcats are demonstrating the importance of learning critical thinking skills, building partnerships and developing an entrepreneurial, change-making spirit.
Dr. Steve Wiegenstein was hired in the fall of 1992 as the assistant professor of journalism at Culver-Stockton and served as the division chair of Humanities and Social Science until 2009. Dr. Wiegenstein always tried to keep a writing project in progress during his teaching years. "It was important to me, not just because writing is my chosen form of creative activity, but because I wanted to model the professional writing life to my students - the joys and struggles, the acceptances and rejections, the whole experience," Wiegenstein shared. Generations of Culver-Stockton College students benefitted from Dr. Wiegenstein’s knowledge, drive and teaching ability, with many of them going on to become professional journalists, technical writers and successful public relations professionals.
Dr. Wiegenstein's own writing output consisted of short stories and articles until 2012, when he published his first novel. Two more novels followed, along with a collection of short stories, Scattered Lights, which was published in November 2020 by Cornerpost Press. Scattered Lights received favorable reviews and eventually made its way on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's "25 Favorite Books of 2020" list. For Dr. Wiegenstein, the biggest surprise was still to come: a nomination as one of 10 finalists for the PEN/Faulkner award, one of the nation's highest literary honors. The PEN/Faulkner Award is generally acknowledged as one of the top three national awards in fiction.
"I was thunderstruck by the nomination," Dr. Wiegenstein said. "I've always believed that my stories had something important to say, but to have that belief validated by a nationwide jury is truly humbling."
To learn more about Dr. Wiegenstein's creative writing, visit his website at http://www.stevewiegenstein.com.
Evan Leake '17 is part of the team at WREX-TV in Rockford, Illinois, who recently received a Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Award.
The WREX-TV in Rockford, Illinois received this award for their ‘Lives on the Lines’ series, a comprehensive series that highlights the importance and awareness of Scott's Law or the Move Over Law, which protects first responders while they are conducting traffic stops on the side of the road or highway. This series was spurred following the death of Trooper Brooke Jones Story, an Illinois State Police Trooper from their area who was hit and killed while conducting a traffic stop. Read one of the stories, here.
Leake shared, "It's an incredibly humbling experience. I honestly don't look at this as an award. It's more of validation for the hard work the WREX team does to make a difference. There were so many people that didn't even know what Scott's Law was and within days of our series starting, I noticed more people slowing down and moving over for first responders on the road. The impact far outweighs the awards. I'm so incredibly thankful to be a part of an award-winning team and for all of the first responders putting their lives on the line every single day for us. I am excited to hopefully add on to this early success in my career."
The Missouri Association of Colleges recently honored Culver-Stockton College alums Kelley Hufendick '20 (right) and Courtney Feith '19 (left) for Teacher Education as two of their 2021 Outstanding Beginning Teachers.
Hufendick '20, a 3rd Grade Teacher at IIes Elementary School in Quincy, IL says, “I am very honored to be recognized as an outstanding beginning teacher for 2021. Culver-Stockton College has provided me with so many unique opportunities that have shaped me into the teacher I am today. My college experience was student-centered and personable; that experience has influenced me to carry it into my own classroom as well. Culver-Stockton provided me with a variety of hands-on learning opportunities, which truly helped me to feel prepared and confident when entering the workforce. My favorite thing about teaching is watching my students accomplish their goals. We are continuously setting new goals and it is such an honor to watch them grow every single day.”
Courtney Feith '19 is an 8th Grade Math/Algebra 1 Teacher at Hannibal Middle School in Hannibal, MO. She says, “The classes and instructors at C-SC taught me a lot about teaching. I left C-SC feeling prepared to teach in a diverse learning environment. The instructors were excellent role models in terms of classroom management and building relationships with students. My favorite thing about teaching is the chance to build relationships with students and impact them in a positive way that makes them want to learn.”
Ben Martin '75, a member of the Alumni Board, received the 2021 Missouri Arts Award. The Missouri Arts Awards celebrate people, organizations and communities that have made profound and lasting contributions to the cultural and artistic climate in Missouri.
Martin says, “Culver-Stockton gave me the sense that volunteering for ‘extra duty’ was a natural part of any professional career. We were a small school and opportunities to be a part of many different programs were always available. On top of a very busy schedule in the speech and theatre programs, I was involved in Greek life, student government and even served on a study group directed by the college president on ways to improve the structure of the college. That served me well because working in Arts Education is all about extra duties and loving being a part of them.”
Martin retired from Missouri Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) in July 2020, having worked with the Alliance for 10 years in many capacities, including serving as Executive Director from 2013-2020. Before that, his teaching career spanned 34 years. Garnering numerous Teacher of the Year and Hall of Fame awards along the way, Martin taught speech, debate and theater in St. Clair, Harrisonville and Belton before finally landing at Lee’s Summit High School where he stayed for 18 years. Read more about Ben’s Award.
Jesse Uhlmeyer '03, Superintendent of the Canton R-V School District was among seven Missouri school superintendents recognized by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA) for outstanding performance as an emerging superintendent.
His colleagues in the Northeast MASA District for this honor nominated Uhlmeyer for the honor. He was recognized during the awards banquet at the MASA Spring Conference on May 24.
The Emerging Superintendent award is presented annually to superintendents who are in their second or third year of employment as a superintendent and have made a measurable contribution to the school district, which they serve.
“It is humbling to be recognized for this honor,” said Uhlmeyer. “This award does not only reflect my contributions to our students. For me, this award reflects the contributions of our entire school community, teachers, principals, staff, students and parents, who make Canton R-V School District an amazing place to learn and achieve success.”
Uhlmeyer received his bachelor's degree in secondary education from Culver-Stockton College in 2003.
“My time at Culver-Stockton College prepared me tremendously for becoming a lifelong learner and wanting to make a positive impact on the lives of students in my classroom,” said Uhlmeyer. “As I continued my education and moved into school administration, my focus has always remained on impacting students in a positive way each and every day.”