Bethany College will honor seven outstanding alumni on May 21 at the annual Alumni Awards Dinner.
The Gold Award, given to a graduate of the last two decades, will be presented to Jason Opat ’93. The Distinguished Graduate Award will be given to Carolee Jones ’78 in recognition of “outstanding achievement and service to society.” The Alumni Award of Merit will be given to Judy Burch ’66, Corey D. Peterson ’84, and Bryce Young ’68 in recognition of “graduates of more than 20 years who have exemplified distinguished service in their professional lives while maintaining an interest in Bethany College.” Lifetime Achievement Awards will be given to Dorene and Don Anderson ’61 in recognition of “outstanding achievement and service to society by a graduate who has provided unique and significant service to the college over his/her lifetime.”
Opat, Wichita, Kan., is a sociology graduate. He is the founder and CEO of Integrated Media Group, which has worked on 16 feature films, including “Transformers,” “Iron Man”, “Get Smart”, and “Eagle Eye.” Opat chairs the Kansas Film Commission and serves on numerous other boards, including Bethany College’s. He is currently working on a documentary called Small Town USA and was recently inducted into the Mid-America Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.
Jones, Salina, Kan., graduated magna cum laude in history and political science. She is currently the executive director of CAPS, where she plans, develops, and administrates CAPS events. Jones is also involved with the Saline County Child Advocacy Center Multidisciplinary Team and has served the League of Women Voters, Salina Planning Council for Children and Families, Kiwanis Club, and Ad Astra Capitol Dome Sculpture Committee. Jones is an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Salina, Kan., serving as junior choir director, Midweek Program coordinator, Assistant Lay Minister, Sunday School teacher, and Meals on Wheels deliverer.
Burch, Lindsborg, Kan., is a mathematics and science education graduate, who has taught in Beloit and Lindsborg. Burch was named the 1986 Smoky Valley USD 400 Teacher of the Year, and a 1987 finalist for Kansas Teacher of the Year. She has also received the McPherson County Women of Distinction Award and the Kansas Kiwanis Family of Builders Award. In 2009, she and her husband won the Lindsborg Community Service Award. Burch serves on the Lindsborg Community Hospital Board of Directors and the 125th Anniversary Committee for the City of Lindsborg. She also served the Bethany College Alumni council and is currently a member of Bethany Auxiliary. The Judith K. Burch Endowed Scholarship has been established through the Smoky Valley Community Foundation, and she is an active member of Bethany Lutheran Church.
Peterson, Topeka, Kan., is a business and economics graduate, who is now the executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors of Kansas. He has served on numerous industry committees and board of directors. Peterson is active in his church, First Lutheran Church in Topeka, and has served as a member of the Mutual Ministry Committee and was a board member of the church’s Children’s Day Out Preschool ministry board of directors.
Young, Hilton Head Island, S.C., is a history and political science graduate, who served as an admissions counselor and tennis coach at Bethany. In 14 years of college coaching, Young’s student-athletes included seven Academic All-Americans and ten playing All-Americans, and they achieved a 100% graduation rate. His tennis teams won 10 consecutive conference championships, and he was voted five times as Kansas Coach of the Year. Young has co-authored a book, The Courtside Coach, and a series of training CDs.
Dorene Anderson, Lindsborg, Kan., is an elementary education graduate. She has taught in Colby, Kan., and served on numerous Kansas travel and tourism boards and committees in Lindsborg, including the Lindsborg Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Lindsborg Board, Lindsborg Arts Council, Lindsborg Community Library Board, and Sandzen Memorial Gallery. Dorene Anderson received the 1996 TIAK Distinguished Service Award and the 2001 Community Service Award and was honored as Hyllningsfest Royalty in 2009 with her husband Don. She is also active in the Messiah Lutheran Church, including serving on the church council.
Don Anderson, Lindsborg, Kan., is a secondary education graduate. He taught in Colby, Kan., and was the first full-time president of Kansas NEA. Don Anderson currently serves as a member of the Bethany College Board of Directors, chair of the Transition Committee, chair of the Recruitment and Marketing Committee, and co-chair of the Pricing Task Force. He has also served Lindsborg as mayor and participated in the Lindsborg City Council, League of Kansas Municipalities, Bibliotek fund raising drive, Kansas Dialogue, Leadership Lindsborg, Hyllningsfest committee, and Lindsborg Sister City Project. Don Anderson was named the 1972 Phi Delta Kappa Outstanding Young Educator, received the 2001 Community Service Award in 2001, and was 2009 Hyllningsfest Royalty. He is also an active member of Messiah Lutheran Church.