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Union honors class of 1963, presents alumni awards during Homecoming 2013

Members of the class of 1963 tour the old Union University campus in downtown Jackson as part of this year's Homecoming activities. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Members of the class of 1963 tour the old Union University campus in downtown Jackson as part of this year's Homecoming activities. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.Feb. 26, 2013 – Forty-two alumni from the Union University class of 1963 returned to campus to celebrate their 50-year reunion during Homecoming 2013, an event that featured the annual alumni awards and the crowning of a new Homecoming queen.

“It’s a close-knit class, and a lot of these men and women have excelled in their professions,” said John Adams, a member of the class of 1963. “That goes back to what Union University is all about – building Christian character and building leaders.”

Union recognized members of the class of 1963 during the Homecoming chapel service Feb. 22. Also during the service, the university presented its annual alumni awards to three recipients.

Sephira Shuttlesworth, a 1979 Union graduate, received the Distinguished Service Award. Shuttlesworth and two of her siblings integrated Pope Elementary School in Jackson in 1965. She spent 23 years as a teacher and elementary school principal and was married to Fred Shuttlesworth, the well-known civil rights leader, until his death in 2011.

Rod Parker, a 1988 graduate, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Parker is a wealth management adviser with Northwestern Mutual and is managing director of the company’s Jackson office. A native of Michie, Tenn., Parker has served on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes board, the Care Center board and the Union University board, of which he was chairman.

Josh Trent, a 2002 graduate, received the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. Trent serves as health care policy adviser for U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, advising the senator on health care coverage, entitlements and delivery system policy. In 2012, Trent was recognized by Politico has an emerging health care leader who will affect the future of health care policy. He previously worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and served in the White House under President George W. Bush.

Phil Jett, pastor emeritus of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, was the speaker for the chapel service, addressing the topic of leadership.

“To be a real leader, you have to truly entrust yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Jett said. “That is my prayer for those of us who are passing the torch to the next generation and to the next generation.”

Hannah Strickland, a senior from Jackson, Tenn., was selected as the 2013 Homecoming queen and was crowned at halftime of the Lady Bulldogs' basketball game. Strickland, an elementary education major, is the daughter of Wendell and Medora Strickland.

Other Homecoming attendants were Kelsie Leaf, a freshman from Kenai, Alaska; Jenaye White, a sophomore from Paducah, Ky.; MaryAnn McClendon, a junior from Auburn, Ala.; Melanie Aria, a junior from Pittsfield, Maine; Mollie Beanblossom, a senior from Louisville, Ky.; Melanie Taylor, a senior from Lakemoor, Ill.; and Hillary Craft, a senior from Franklin, Tenn.

In addition to the Homecoming court, seniors Daniel Kelley and Kylie McDonald were named Mr. and Miss Union. Kelley, of Nashville, Tenn., will graduate in May with a major in biology and plans to attend medical school. McDonald, of Fort Mill, S.C., will graduate in May with a degree in political science and economics and plans to work in international missions.

At halftime of the men’s game, the women of Chi Omega were presented with the Community Service Award for their work with Make-A-Wish, the men of Lambda Chi Alpha received the Decade of Service Award for their work with Relay for Life and the students of Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise) received the Presidential Homecoming Cup, which honors the student organization that has shown outstanding service during the last school year.


Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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