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What do a psychologist, accountant, information technology specialist, photographer, lawyer, radiation therapist and nurse have in common?
They all received degrees from Washburn and each of them was honored as 2013 Washburn University Alumni Fellows.
Among those honored was Sue Parks, who along with several classmates took a radiation therapy course through Washburn’s distance-learning program.
“All of us passed our certification after taking courses through Washburn,” said Sue Parks, the School of Applied Studies Fellow and a Colorado resident. “I think that speaks very highly of Washburn. I’ve been a recruiter for the school since I took the course.
“We had the books, tests and tapes mailed to us. And the program was very good, very thorough.”
Though she has been singing the school’s praises and recruiting for the university for years, Parks’ trip to campus was her first. In fact, she’d never been to Kansas.
“It’s such a beautiful campus,” said Parks, a retired technical director at the Nevada Oncology Center. “I’m very impressed.”
The other honorees are quite familiar with Washburn’s campus.
Thomas Bartlett, a psychologist in Topeka, was one of the first students to receive a master’s degree in the discipline from Washburn. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the psychology department for 20 years.
“Washburn’s program was so thorough that I was extremely well prepared when I completed my doctorate and fellowship,” said Bartlett, a College of Arts and Sciences Fellow.
Bartlett teaches two psychology courses a semester and worked for several years at Family Service and Guidance Center.
Michael Falk, a Topeka native and Topeka High graduate, was moved by the honor, as well as the words of son, Matt, who attended the luncheon.
“My dad has shown me what true leadership, courage and hard work can do for you in life,” Matt Falk wrote in a congratulatory letter. “He has given me the best example of what a man should be.”
Michael Falk, the School of Business Fellow and a 1984 alumnus, is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, responsible for all PwC service delivery to several of the firm’s clients. He also serves as the lead tax partner to a number of other clients, including Fortune 500 companies.
A longtime Topekan and current Seattle resident, Pamela Farrell was honored as the Washburn Institute of Technology Fellow.
Farrell received a certificate in bookkeeping and data processing from Washburn Tech in 1972, and embarked on a 31-year career in information technology at Boeing in the late 1970s.
“Washburn Tech gave me the confidence and ability to perform the skills, set goals and take pride in my accomplishments,” she said. “I enjoyed a rewarding career in information technology that would not have been possible without the educational experience.”
Another longtime Topeka, Jeff Jacobsen, was honored by the College of Arts and Sciences.
Jacobsen, an award-winning photographer who received a bachelor of arts in 1976, is the staff photographer for University of Kansas athletics.
“Besides the many friends I grew to know well, my Washburn education helped me fully see the world from many new and different directions,” he said.
Jacobsen also enjoyed a long career in newspapers, including two stints at the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The School of Law honoree, Michael Lennen, credited Washburn for a career in law that has spanned five decades.
“I do not think I was alone in finding that to succeed at Washburn, I would be required to commit myself to a regimen of study that I had not previously embraced,” he said. “From that experience, I gained much of the value that has affected my life and profession.”
Lennen, who received a juris doctor degree in 1974, is of counsel at the firm Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock and Kennedy.
Beth Williams, the School of Nursing Fellow, was honored before a crowd that included more than a dozen faculty members from the school.
“This has been overwhelming,” she said. “I thank the Alumni Association and School of Nursing for this honor. Washburn has been very influential in my life. It made me realize the value of hard work."
Williams has served in several capacities at St. Francis Health Center since 1987 and is the director of medical surgical nursing.