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2015 Washburn Alumni Fellows



John S. Augusto, ba ’91, assistant vice provost for experiential learning, University of Kansas

Acceptance speech

John AugustoJohn Augusto was born in Hutchinson and now resides in Lawrence where he works as assistant vice provost for experiential learning at the University of Kansas (KU). He founded and directs the Center for Undergraduate Research and directs the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. He started at KU in 1993 as an academic program coordinator and then worked for two years as director of multicultural affairs at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his professional career at Washburn as an admission counselor in 1991. Augusto is a lifetime member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. He presents every year at the Annual Biomedical Conference for Minority Students and is an elected member of the Council on Undergraduate Research.

About Washburn: My best memory is talking to Professor Tom Averill. He gave me so much confidence and showed me how hard work can lead to success. Washburn gave me academic courage and confidence. It gave me a place to start writing my life’s story.



Dan Francis, bsw ’04, msw ’05, retired staff clinician and crisis clinician, Family Service and Guidance Center

Acceptance speech

Dan FrancisDan Francis grew up in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, and moved to Topeka after a 20-year career in the military. He retired in 2011 as a staff clinician and crisis clinician in outpatient psychotherapy at Family Service and Guidance Center in Topeka. Francis started at Family Service and Guidance Center in 2005 as a post-graduate fellow and subsequently specialized in work with children aged birth to six years. He worked for two years before that in social work generalist and clinical internships at Colmery O’Neil VA Medical Center. He was in the military intelligence service in the United States Army from 1977-97. Among his honors were three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals and the Master Instructor qualification. During his service, he was a senior and chief instructor at the Military Intelligence Corps NCO Academy from 1990-93 where he trained junior and senior NCOs in leadership and advanced technical subjects in eight military intelligence disciplines.

About Washburn: Every class I took at Washburn contributed to the person I am today. I learned things in both general education and my specialty areas that I later used in my professional practice. While I attended and taught many undergraduate and graduate courses in military schools, I will always consider Washburn to be my alma mater.



Jeffrey R. Hewett, jd ’95, CEO, Granite Legal Systems, Inc.

Acceptance speech

Jeff HewettJeffrey Hewett grew up in Topeka and resides in Houston where he founded Granite Legal Systems, Inc., in 2004 and serves as chief executive officer. Granite is a legal software and discovery services company that provides project and technical consulting for large-scale litigation in the pharmaceutical, medical device and energy industries. Previously, Hewett worked as a practice group leader for Baker Robbins & Company. He managed litigation, records management and case management groups providing services to corporations and law firms.

About Washburn: While in law school, I appreciated the personal nature of the Washburn learning experience. Professor Ronald Griffin took the time to discuss business concepts and make recommendations for good, practical business practices. The information continues to provide guidance and insight today.



James L.P. Hurd, b music ’67, professor of music, El Camino College

Acceptance speech

James HurdJames Hurd grew up in Topeka and currently lives in Los Angeles where he is a professor of music at El Camino College. He teaches organ, piano and music appreciation. Hurd has served as organist and director of music for numerous churches and organizations in Topeka, Chicago and Los Angeles. He is currently the organist and music director at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Redondo Beach, California. He is an active member of the American Guild of Organists and has performed all across the United States and Europe. The First Presbyterian Church of Inglewood awarded him the status of A Living Legacy after he served as organist and music director from 1973-96. The Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance has invited him to speak on several occasions on his experiences as a student at Monroe Elementary School in Topeka during the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

About Washburn: As I started taking organ lessons, I realized I would like to be doing exactly what my professor, Max Elsberry, was doing: Teaching college, supervising the music and playing a big pipe organ for a large church. For what I was searching for in life, he was an excellent role model.



Jeff Myers, ba ’87, president, The Summit

Acceptance speech

Jeff MyersJeff Myers, a native of Great Bend, Kansas, currently lives in Manitou Springs, Colorado, where he works as president of The Summit. Myers started at The Summit in 2011 and directs the Christian-based program that prepares students for college. The organization trains 50,000 students a year through 12-day intensive programs offered in three states and curriculum offered to schools and churches throughout the United States. He has had a distinguished career lecturing on leadership and producing training materials in the field for students, churches, businesses and political organizations. Myers has authored 11 books and delivered more than 1,500 keynote speeches and leadership seminars during the last 25 years in the United States and 12 foreign countries.

About Washburn: I have had the privilege of influencing several million emerging leaders and not a day has passed that I have not drawn on the content, the academic skills and the leadership experiences I gained at Washburn.



David J. Roberts, bba ’74, president, Power Sales and Advertising

Acceptance speech

Dave RobertsDavid Roberts was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and lives in Overland Park where he is president of Power Sales and Advertising. Roberts oversees a company that offers more than 185 different product lines to the premium and incentives industry. Power Sales and Advertising has 113,000 square feet of office and warehouse space with 70 employees in Lenexa. The company started as Don Roberts and Associates, and David Roberts served as president until 1992 when he formed the current business. Roberts has coached youth baseball and basketball teams and has been a board member of Blue Valley Senior Baseball and Blue Valley Northwest High School booster club.

About Washburn: I lived all four years in the Phi Delta Theta house. We had a lot of guys who became doctors, lawyers and business professionals who took being a student fairly seriously. Several of them set a good example when I arrived as a 17-year-old freshman, and I learned how to study and prepare for class. I decided to be a business major right away.



Manya Schmidt, bsn ’78, certified nurse-midwife, advanced practice registered nurse, St. Francis Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery

Acceptance speech

Manya SchmidtManya Schmidt grew up in Topeka and works at St. Francis Health’s Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery center as a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and advanced practice registered nurse. Schmidt has worked for St. Francis Health since 2004 and is a professor in Washburn’s doctor of nursing practice and family nurse practitioner programs. She has devoted her career to caring for women and families during and after pregnancy. She was the first certified nurse-midwife to attend hospital births in Topeka in 1994, paving the way for nurse-midwifery care to become established in the community. Schmidt is a preceptor for many CNM and nurse practitioner students throughout the Midwest. Schmidt has worked to deliver midwifery care in a variety of underserved areas throughout Topeka and northeast Kansas, providing direct patient care in many different local and outreach clinics.

About Washburn: The School of Nursing provided diverse educational opportunities, which allowed me to choose a career path that best met my personal and professional goals. The concept of being a change agent equipped me with the determination to make midwifery care available to women desiring a hospital birth experience.



Eric Showalter, collision repair ’76, instructor of collision repair, Washburn Institute of Technology

Acceptance speech

Eric ShowalterTopeka resident Eric Showalter is a collision repair instructor at Washburn Institute of Technology. Showalter began at Washburn Tech in 2004 when it was Kaw Area Vocational-Technical School. Prior to that, he worked for Shawnee Country Public Works as an assistant traffic supervisor for a year, and he owned and managed Mirror Image, Inc., an I-CAR Gold Class repair shop from 1991 to 2003. He is a Master Certified Technician from Automotive Service Excellence and I-CAR platinum certified. He was named the I-CAR South Central Instructor of the Year in 2012. Showalter helped Washburn Tech start the Recycled Rides program in 2011. Washburn Tech students work side by side with industry professionals to repair donated vehicles and gift them to community members in need. The program has presented 13 cars to local residents since its inception.

About Washburn: We are striving to become the Midwest leader in collision repair technology in the education field. Recycled Rides has been a very positive direction for us in promoting our school not only to the general public, but to businesses that hire our students. It has opened up new lines of communication, which leads to increased opportunities for our graduating students.

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1729 MacVicar Avenue
Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483