Alumni Award Recipients: 2019

Columbia College alumni excel not only as supporters of their alma mater, but also as professionals in their careers and as citizens of their communities. Each year, a select few of these inspiring representatives are recognized for their accomplishments. The CCAA is pleased to celebrate the following recipients at the annual Alumni Awards Banquet and Presentation on Friday, June 7, 2019.

Distinguished Alumni Award

For attaining outstanding regional recognition in one’s chosen career field

Jean Peters Baker ’91

As the Jackson County Prosecutor in Missouri, Jean Peters Baker ’91 works with police and community leaders to confront problems of violence and stand up for crime victims in Kansas City. In 2012, she helped start the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. The group reaches out to community members who are at high-risk for being involved in violent crimes, including those identified by police as offenders, witnesses and former victims. In 2014, after the program was implemented, Kansas City homicides dropped to the lowest level in four decades.

Baker also helps fight illegal drug activity in the community. She led the Drug Abatement Response Team (DART) and a multi-agency effort to close motels and other businesses involved in illegal drug activities. Baker says her goal is not just to reduce crime but to help make Jackson County a better place to live. “We work hard to create programs that get to the heart of the community and treat people with the humanity they deserve.”

That humanity includes looking out for the most vulnerable citizens, including crime victims and children who witness violence. “Often communities feel like they’re on their own, and that shouldn’t happen. We need to be there for the victims.”

In addition to her work as prosecutor, Baker was recently elected as chair of the Missouri Democratic Party. She graduated from Columbia College’s Evening Program in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in art. She earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

Community Service Award

For demonstrating outstanding leadership and service to the citizens of one’s community

Crystal Williams ’85

Crystal Williams ’85 works to help women, children and families through policy and outreach. Last year, she was elected for a third term as Second District At-Large Legislator for Jackson County, Missouri. Williams has been instrumental in bringing legislation to curb the opioid epidemic in Jackson County. Working together with a physician in St. Louis, she helped establish Jackson County’s first prescription-drug monitoring program, which was also implemented in St. Louis County. The county programs are vital because Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without a statewide monitoring program.

In addition, Williams sponsored legislation to establish the Jackson County Children’s Services Fund. The fund focuses on getting help to families and kids who are at risk. It’s funded by a one-eighth-cent sales tax, which brings in about $15 million a year.

One of her goals is to make sure that government is honest and forthright with how money is allocated. “Transparency is big with me,” Williams says. “I believe that government should exist to help people and help our communities be successful, but whatever funding we commit should be spent responsibly.”

Her work history includes leadership positions with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Partnership for Children, Swope Health Services and Policy Matters, LLC. As for her future plans, Williams says she wants to continue to ensure that women have access to health care. She’d also like to help more women to run for public office. It’s a job that she can recommend from personal experience. “It’s always exciting,” she says. “I’ve never been bored the past 30 years.”

Jane Froman Courage Award

For displaying a spirit of courage in daily life

Pascale White ’17

Pascale White ’17 is a two-time cancer survivor – both times before the age of 10. When she was just 18 months old, she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After intensive chemotherapy, she went into remission but relapsed when she was 6 years old. She endured several years of therapy, including a stem cell transplant, and successfully beat the disease a second time.

While White was undergoing treatment, she had to miss a lot of school. It was a challenge to catch up, partly because of the days she missed, but also because of the radiation’s effects on her developing brain. White was homeschooled and eventually eased back into school. In 2012, she graduated from Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Missouri. She went to Moberly Area Community College before transferring to Columbia College.

“I knew I needed more one-on-one help from teachers in college,” White says. “Everyone at Columbia College was wonderful. They stepped up to help when I needed it.” In 2017, she earned her Bachelor of General Studies degree from Columbia College with minors in psychology and business.

Today, White is a stay-at-home mom to Mia, who was born prematurely on Thanksgiving last year. She also gives her time to “Pascale’s Pals,” a volunteer organization that her family started when White battled cancer as a child. The organization helps ease the burden for families of children who are diagnosed with cancer or any type of chronic or life-threatening illness. She often visits with families of these children to let them know they’re not alone. “I just talk with them and try to give them a little bit of comfort,” she says. “Sometimes seeing someone who’s been through it can bring a little bit of hope.”

Honorary Alumni Award

For outstanding leadership and service to Columbia College

George W. Hulett

George Hulett is being honored with the Honorary Alumni Award for his unwavering support and dedication to Columbia College. He has been a committed donor for over 30 years and is among the most generous philanthropists in the school's recorded history.

The president of Hulett Heating & Air Conditioning in Columbia, Missouri, Hulett has served on the Columbia College Board of Trustees since 2009 and as treasurer since 2016. While he did not attend Christian College or Columbia College himself, several of his family members have, including his grandmother, three children and granddaughter.

Hulett and his wife, Jeanne, have supported the Criminal Justice Department and Cougar Athletics for many years. They established two endowed scholarships: the Hulett Family Criminal Justice Graduate Study Scholarship in 1991 and the Hulett Family Scholarship in 2010. As a regular supporter of various capital-campaign projects on the Columbia College campus, Hulett and his family were honored in 2016 with the naming of the new Hulett Family Campus Safety Office on the Quad. In 2018 he was inducted into the Rogers Gate Circle of the President's Society as one of the college’s top donors.

Hulett says he enjoys watching Cougar Athletics, particularly because of his granddaughter, Katie Cook, who was a member of the soccer team. This spring, Cook graduated from Columbia College, and Hulett was able to present her with her diploma at the ceremony. “Columbia College is dear to my heart,” he says. “Partly because of all of the members of our family who have gone there, but also because of all of the wonderful people who have been so nice to us at Columbia College. It’s a wonderful college for youngsters to go to school, and I just have a warm place in my heart for it.”

Columbia College Service Award

For significant contributions and service to Columbia College

Assistance League of Mid-Missouri

Pictured: Mary Humlicek, president, and Mary Stixrud ’72, vice president of Philanthropic Programs

For almost 15 years, the Assistance League of Mid-Missouri has provided scholarships at Columbia College to support women who are going back to college. “The goal is to help women who are trying to improve their lives as well as their family’s lives,” says Mary Bell Stixrud ’72, the chapter’s vice president of Philanthropic Programs.

The Assistance League of Mid-Missouri provides funding for two Columbia College scholarships: the Assisting Women’s Achievement Scholarships and the Assisting Women’s Military Heroes Awards. In 2005, the Assistance League began providing Assisting Women’s Achievement Scholarships at Columbia College to support non-traditional female students. The $2,000 scholarships are given to female students age 25 and older who have completed 60 hours of college credit. Last year, the Assistance League also provided funds to initiate the Assisting Women’s Military Heroes Awards. The $1,250 awards are given to women who are residents of Boone County and either veterans or on active duty.

To date, the Assistance League has provided 143 Achievement scholarships and 19 Military Heroes awards, totaling $309,750. The scholarships are part of the organization’s overall mission – to serve identified needs for adults and children in the Columbia area. “Education helps bring about self-reliance,” Stixrud says. “By providing scholarships, we can help women who are trying to support themselves and their families.”

The college scholarships are one of 10 philanthropic programs offered by the Assistance League of Mid-Missouri. Among many other services, the organization also provides Assault Survivor Kits for hospital emergency rooms, winter clothing for children, baby supplies for new mothers, and hygiene kits for families in need. Proceeds from the Assistance League’s Upscale Resale store provide support for scholarships and other philanthropic programs.

Photo Gallery: View pictures from the Alumni Awards Banquet.