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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

July 22, 2015

Northwest Alumni Association to honor 7 for success, service

Seven distinguished members of the Northwest Missouri State University family will be honored for dedicating time, talent and service to the University during the Alumni Awards Banquet this fall.

The annual event, sponsored by the Northwest Alumni Association, begins at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 25, with a social in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom, followed by a dinner at 6:45 p.m. and the awards presentation at 8 p.m. The banquet coincides with Northwest’s Family Weekend activities.

“The Alumni Awards Banquet is a wonderful opportunity to bring the Northwest family together, and we are proud to recognize these outstanding individuals for their achievements and contributions to Northwest Missouri State University,” said Bob Machovsky, director of alumni relations and annual giving.

Tickets cost $40 per person or $300 for a table of eight. Reservations will be accepted until Friday, Sept. 11, on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/alumni/events/awards/registration.htm or contact the Northwest Alumni Association at 660.562.1248 or alumni@nwmissouri.edu.

The honorees for 2015 are listed below.


Jennifer Dawson Nicholson, Distinguished Alumni Award

Jennifer Dawson Nicholson

Jennifer Dawson Nicholson, a 1971 graduate, is the owner of Nicholson Capital Management Inc., an independent investment advisory firm she co-founded in 1988 and now manages more than $105 million. She began her business career as the first female management trainee at First National Bank of Kansas City and progressed to vice president and group leader in the Trust Division. Later, she worked in vice president roles at First Continental Bank and Trust and at Centerre Bank of Kansas City, NA. She is a member of the Northwest Foundation Board and has acted on many charitable boards, including the Metropolitan Entrepreneurs Council, Crittenton Center, Rose Brooks Center, Kansas City Transitional Living Consortium and a 21-year involvement with the Women’s Foundation of Kansas City.

Dr. Carol Blom Spradling, Distinguished Faculty Award

Dr. Carol Blom Spradling

Dr. Carol Blom Spradling is associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Systems, having graduated from Northwest and joined its faculty in 1988. In addition to teaching computer science courses, she serves as a provost fellow and a liaison to the Northland CAPS program. Spradling also is the co-organizer for the Missouri Iowa Nebraska Kansas (MINK) Women in Computing (WIC) Conference and the co-sponsor for DigEM, a student organization for interactive digital media, multimedia and advertising majors. She also served as the organizer and co-organizer for the Computer Science and Information Systems Professional Advisory Team, a Knacktive faculty member and on many other committees. Spradling has received many awards including the Dean’s Faculty Award for Service in 2014 and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education in 2012. She lives in Maryville.

Dr. Gary McDonald, Distinguished Faculty Emeritus Award

Dr. Gary McDonald

Dr. Gary McDonald began at Northwest in 1971 as an assistant professor of mathematics and retired this year as a professor in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Systems. He began teaching computer science courses in the late 1970s and was a founding member of the Department of Computer Science in 1980. His specialty was programming languages, and he taught more than 25 different programming languages. He served 13 years on the Promotion and Rank Committee, 15 years on the University Research Committee and 18 years as Library Liaison. He was a key player in the development of the master’s degree program for applied computer science program. In addition to his own publications and presentations, he supervised undergraduate research projects, leading to regional and national presentations and refereed publications for the students conducting the research.

Dr. Merry McDonald, Distinguished Faculty Emeritus Award

Dr. Merry McDonald

Dr. Merry McDonald arrived at Northwest in 1971 as an assistant professor of mathematics, retiring this year as a professor in the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Systems. She began teaching computer science courses in the late 1970s and was a founding member of the computer science department in 1980. She was instrumental in the development of the master’s degree program for applied computer science, serving as program director since its inception in 2004. In addition to her own publications and presentations, she supervised undergraduate research projects, leading to regional and national presentations and refereed publications for the students conducting the research. She was chair of the computer science department for eight years and chair of the calendar committee for 15 years.

Shoba Mansukhani Brown, Public Service Award

Shoba Mansukhani Brown

Shoba Mansukhani Brown, a 1971 graduate, was born in India and came to the United States in 1966 as a high school student on a Rotary Scholarship, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1985. A former member of the Northwest Foundation Inc. Board of Directors, Brown continues to serve Northwest by recruiting international students in India and working with the Missouri Hope disaster response field training exercise. She began volunteering with the American Red Cross in 2005 after the death of her husband, Everett Brown, and serves on the local chapter’s board of directors. She has been on more than 30 national deployments, assisting others on behalf of the American Red Cross, and received the 2014 Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Service. Shoba resides in Maryville.

Susan Johnson Hockensmith, Turret Service Award

Susan Johnson Hockensmith

Susan Johnson Hockensmith, a 1972 graduate, was instrumental in chartering the St. Louis Alumni and Friends Chapter in 2008. As its co-president, her enthusiasm is contagious as she welcomes members of all ages in the St. Louis area. She displays Northwest suitcase tags and wears green and white attire as she promotes the University in daily conversations. She also served on the Northwest Alumni Board of Directors. Hockensmith and her husband, Dana, are co-owners of Lakeside Children’s Academy in West St. Louis County and co-founders of Pony Bird Inc., for which they serve on the Board of Directors. She resides in Manchester, Mo.

Thomas Sanchez, Young Alumni Award

Thomas Sanchez

Thomas Sanchez, a 2002 graduate, is an innovator and entrepreneur focused on the intersection of marketing and technology. The founder and CEO of Social Driver, an award-winning digital innovation agency with offices across the United States, he was named a Minority Business Leader by the Washington Business Journal and was among the “50 on Fire” by DCInno. Sanchez has been a featured speaker at Mobile Commerce World, MoDev and The National Press Club. He also mentors young entrepreneurs as a judge for The George Washington University Business Plan Competition, a contest his team won in 2011. He lives in Washington, D.C.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468