|Centrepiece Online | Spring 2009|
Distinguished Alumnus James B. Hawkins ’78
Jim Hawkins '78 says his decision to attend Centre was one of the best he's ever made. “One of my best friends in high school, Anne Moffatt ’78, encouraged me to consider Centre immediately after she returned from a visit,” Hawkins says. “I came to Danville and was struck by the
What is one of his favorite memories of Centre? Simply put: running.
“As a cross-country and track team member, I had the chance to push myself to my limits and beyond, thanks to ‘Doc’ Richard Heitzenrater and talented teammates such as Preston Young ’77, Erv Yankey ’79, Matt Huff ’79, Mark Zoller ’79, Valarie Ziegler ’76, and many others.”
He says he will always remember the sense of potential “that was like a constant invisible river around us.”
“My public interest practice includes helping survivors of domestic violence and persons with problems involving housing, consumer issues, workplace rights of employees, financial exploitation of elderly persons, and access to health care,” he says.
He says that Centre gave him a strong belief that life could be about constant learning and about doing a lot of different things to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
“That belief has helped guide my spiritual life, my family life, my work life, and my service to the communities where I’ve lived,” he says.
Distinguished Alumna Susan Weesner West '81
When searching for colleges, Susan Weesner West ’81 knew she wanted to attend a prestigious liberal arts school in the North.
“I was from Tennessee, and Kentucky was as far north as my parents wanted me to go,” she says.
West says her fondest Centre memory would have to be the Appalachian winter term class she took her senior year, where she met her future husband, Kevin West ’83, and fell in love.
Not all of her Centre memories are of when she was a student. In 1996, she made her husband and two children (ages 6 and 10 at the time) dress up in 1920s clothing for Homecoming.
“We won the best-dressed alumni contest being that we were the only alumni to dress up,” she says.
West is the assistant dean of student affairs and director of fraternity and sorority affairs at the University of Kentucky. In addition to being successful on a national level—UK’s Panhellenic Council has won more National Panhellenic Conference awards than any other in the nation during her 20 years at UK—she genuinely cares about her students.
“I love watching the students grow in their leadership positions, and I feel they keep me young and active,” she says. “I work hard to help them achieve their goals each year, focusing on academics, service, leadership, and sisterhood.”
Distinguished Alumnus Mark A. Bridges ’88
G?rowing up in Lexington, Mark Bridges ’88 would have described himself as provincial.
“I never had the guidance to push me beyond my local surroundings,” he says. “Centre had a wonderful reputation, and I was fortunate to be accepted. Centre opened my eyes to a world beyond Kentucky and taught me a lot about myself.”
Bridges also values the importance of his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon. “The friendships and life lessons that DKE provided are still with me today,” he says.
He met his wife, Cathy Haycraft Bridges ’87, at Centre.
“I still remind her to this day about the better grade I received in the calculus class where we met,” he says.
One of his favorite memories is a recent one from Afghanistan. This past summer he was deployed to Kabul to serve as a mentor to the law faculty at the newly established National Military Academy of Afghanistan (NMAA), which is modeled after West Point.
“Witnessing the heroic effort of these Afghani officers to create a military and government established on the rule of law and to integrate Afghanistan into the 21st century was truly inspiring,” he says.
Young Alumna Mary Quinn Kerbaugh Ramer ’98
Mary Quinn Kerbaugh Ramer ’98, a Danville native, admits that Centre wasn’t her first choice. It didn’t take long, though, to realize it was exactly where she wanted to be.
“I transferred to Centre after the first semester of my freshman year,” she says. “Within a few weeks, I knew I was in the right place.”
One of Ramer’s favorite student memories is of a trip abroad to Strasbourg with her classmates led by Sandy and Milton Reigelman, Cowan Professor of English.
While working at Preston-Osborne, a Lexington, Ky., P.R. firm, after graduation, Ramer got involved with the 2000 Vice Presidential Debate, helping Centre’s communications office with marketing, public relations, and planning.
“I’ve never been prouder of my alma mater and my hometown!” Ramer says.
Almost nine years later, she is now vice president of tourism marketing at the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau. LCVB’s mission is to enhance the economy of Lexington and the Bluegrass Region by promoting and developing tourism.
She credits Centre for giving her a strong foundation on which to build her career.
“The abilities to write and think critically are the two most important skills for any career, and Centre couldn’t have done a better job cultivating those in me,” she says. “Centre also made me keenly aware of the global community and instilled in me a strong desire to give back to people and places in meaningful ways.”