2021 Alumni Award Honorees

Alumni Achievement Award: LLoyd Conway ’87, Lansing, Michigan

Lloyd Conway, of Lansing, Michigan, is a social studies teacher at Our Savior Lutheran School. Conway, who is from an Army family that dates back to the American Revolution, is the first in his family to graduate college. Earning well in excess of 60 semester hours of credit via CLEP/DSST exams while in uniform, Excelsior College opened the door to his degree and offered the opportunity for a professional career. Conway’s Excelsior degree made him eligible for the MI Civil Service test (on which he scored in 100th percentile) and a 20-year career in public service that would have been otherwise denied.

Conway has been selected for many honors and awards and has dedicated his life’s work to the improvement of his community.

Conway’s post-Excelsior career has included being an adjunct college instructor in a non-traditional degree-completion program. His commitment to non-traditional education continues to be a driving force in his life and career.

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Excelsior College, Conway earned an MAT from Wayne State University.

Alumni Service Award: Gregg Smith ’94, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Gregg Smith, from Idaho Falls, Idaho, has been affiliated with Excelsior since 1983 when he secured a six-figure grant to start development of technology degree programs at the Regents External Degrees Program (now Excelsior University). He has been giving back ever since in a variety of ways, including his longstanding service as member of faculty from 1983 to present and the establishment of the Gregg and Lisa Smith Technology Scholarship Fund.

Smith is an active member of several advisory boards, including at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Hudson Valley Community College, and National Program on Non-Collegiate Sponsored Instruction. He also founded a nonprofit organization that conducts several charitable events in the community and has raised more than $150,000 per year.

Smith, who earned a Bachelor of Science form Excelsior in 1994, encourages Excelsior students and alumni to give back to Excelsior in any way that they can. Smith says “It all counts. The key is to start, succeed with that first goal, and then build on it to the next. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”.

Carrie B. Lenburg Award: Cynthia Wanek ’19, Crete, Nebraska

Cynthia Wanek of Crete, Nebraska, is a lifelong learner and has demonstrated incredible commitment to the nursing profession. While some are announcing retirement at age 62, Wanek is announcing her new position at a Magnet status medical center, thanks to her nursing degree from Excelsior College.

Wanek enrolled at Excelsior on the phone from a cancer treatment hospital while supporting her father. After his passing, her mother’s lifelong heart condition required more of her time and Wanek took over most of her parents’ affairs. Through it all, her goal was a nursing job at her local critical access hospital. She was finally hired in small hospital and from there achieved her most recent position: a dream realized.

Wanek holds advanced licenses and finds her meaning in direct, bedside patient care. She prides herself in giving comfort, hope, and courage even through the end of life. Wanek has persevered against the odds as a non-traditional student in becoming a nurse, with further education ahead of her. Wanek lives by the motto “Ever Upward.”

Wanek earned an associate degree in nursing from Excelsior and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska.

C. Wayne Williams Award: J. Scott Meier ’02, Austin Texas

Scott Meier, from Austin, Texas, believes that the legacy we leave is greater defined by those we help rather than what we’ve acquired.

From his first job delivering newspapers at the age of seven; to working in agriculture while growing up; the food service industry at various times; to his career in the Navy and all that has followed, Meier been in roles where he has served. He is also a steadfast volunteer through civic involvement, churches, community theater, fundraisers for cancer, and youth coaching. Meier did not plan his life around serving but understood the value that was modeled in the small community in which he was raised and instilled in him at a young age. To work toward benefiting others is a pursuit that also brings Meier personal satisfaction.

Meier is involved in an expansive range of activities outside of his professional position to advance the capabilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal departments.

Meier earned a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering Technology from Excelsior College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Missouri.