Lake Michigan College seeks alumni award nominations

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, December 11, 2018

BENTON TOWNSHIP — The Lake Michigan College Alumni Association Board of Directors is seeking nominations for its 2019 Alumni Awards. The college first presented Alumni Awards in 1986. Since then, more than 80 recipients have been honored. Best consideration for the 2019 awards will be given to nominations received by Feb. 28, 2019.

To be considered for the awards, nominees need to have attended Lake Michigan College or its predecessor, Benton Harbor Community College, and have earned at least 30 credit hours through the college.

There are three award categories (awardees are listed with their affiliation at the time of the award):

The Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award, named in honor of the first president of Lake Michigan College, is given to an alumnus who has accomplished significant success in his or her personal or professional endeavors. Recent winners of the Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award include Gloria Ender (owner and CEO of Freedom Finishing), Dr. Marilyn J. Stolberg (retired dentist), Andrew Bauer (Conservation Officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources), Dr. Mark A. Kuriata (dermatologist and owner of Advanced Dermatalogy in St. Joseph), Valerie Dell Huber (president of the DC-based National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA)), Becky Kliss (business owner and board president of Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum), Richard Schinkel (naturalist), James F. A. Turner (founder/president/CEO of M&T Paradigm Group Financial One), Steven C. Fairbanks (president and CEO, Iowa Mold Tooling Co.), Mamiella Chavis-Brown (counselor, South Bend Community School Corporation), Dr. Gyl Kasewurm (owner, Professional Hearing Services, Ltd.), and Sam Monte (owner, Monte Package Company).

The Alumni Achievement Award is presented to a recent alumnus who attended LMC within the past 15 years and has demonstrated significant achievement and distinguished themselves in their career, education or community such that they would be role models to current LMC students. Recent Alumni Achievement Award honorees include Melanie Owen (co-owner of Lazy Ballerina Winery), Cindy Reuss (retired LMC director of enrollment services), Brittnee Ashten Carter (PhD candidate at the University of Kansas), Brian Doak (Legacy Wealth Group), Stephanie Henderson (former LMC student athlete and collegiate softball coach), Mary Jo Tomasini (CEO, Competitive Edge), Brad Gorman (Whirlpool Corporation), Melissa Zmyslo (Berrien County Health Department), Dana Harris Slagle (Jet Magazine), and C. Jesse Green (Michigan Trial Lawyers Association).

The Alumni Service Award is given to an alumnus who has offered significant personal contributions to the college or community, with community being broadly interpreted as local, the state of Michigan, or the nation. Recent past selections for the Alumni Service Award are Rick Smiedendorf (school/community resource officer for the Berrien Springs/Oronoko Township Police Department), Edward J. Todd (retired businessman), Donald C. Mitchell (retired veteran, industrial engineer, and mortgage originator), Brenda Kniebes (elementary teacher at Decatur Public Schools), Dr. Susan Lentz (biology instructor at Lake Michigan College), Colleen Cullitan (attorney), Barbara Lane (retired executive director of the Berrien County Cancer Service), Diane Curry (principal and special education director, Niles Community Schools), Patrick Lynch (pharmacist and operator, Hill’s Prescription Shop), Nancy Conybeare (formerly of Lake Michigan College), Karen Kolberg Kietzer (Berrien-Cass-Van Buren County Counselors Association), Melissa Stolfo (Goodwill Industries), Paula Wygonik (Competitive Edge), Paul Landeck (Tabor Hill Winery & Restaurant), Sharon Tyler (formerly of the Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance), and Mary Goff (former mayor, City of St. Joseph).

To nominate an individual for an alumni award, access the nomination forms online at For more information, contact Rita Whise, manager, advancement programs and stewardship at (269) 927-6278 or

Upon nomination, an application will be sent to the candidate. Award winners will be recognized at the college’s 2019 Honors Convocation in mid-April.