Alumni Receive Awards for Achievements

Four alumni were honored for their outstanding achievements on July 8, during the Alumni Association Annual Meeting hosted by the Alumni Leadership Council. The meeting was held online to allow the broadest possible participation by Excelsior alumni.

The alumni award recipients, Lloyd Conway, Cynthia Wanek, Scott Meier, and Gregg Smith, accepted their awards virtually.

Lloyd Conway was selected as the recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding academic, professional, personal, and community contributions that are representative of our graduates. “Being chosen for this honor gives me a feeling of connectedness to the community of like-minded souls whose academic pilgrimage brought them to Excelsior…Our journeys would not have been possible without Excelsior, and I am sure that all of us are as grateful as I am for our alma mater,” he says about the Alumni Achievement Award.

This Carrie B. Lenburg Award is presented to an outstanding nursing graduate in recognition of the accomplishments and vision of Dr. Carrie Lenburg, coordinator of the Regents College Nursing Program from 1973 to 1990. The award is presented to a nurse who demonstrates a commitment to nursing education as well as to academic and professional accomplishments in the field of nursing. This year’s recipient, Cynthia Wanek, is a lifelong learner and credits her achievements to living by the motto “Ever Upward.”

Scott Meier was selected as the recipient of the C. Wayne Williams Award, which is named after the College’s first president and presented in recognition of outstanding public service and community involvement by a graduate. Meier believes that the legacy we leave is greater defined by those we help rather than by what we’ve acquired. “They [Excelsior College] took all my various experiences and validated them, and in turn, valued me,” he says. “I’m forever grateful for Excelsior College and the alumni that keep the school’s mission of supporting adult learners at the heart of their culture.”

“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.” –Gregg Smith

Alumni Service Award recipient Gregg Smith has been giving back to Excelsior for many years, 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. The Alumni Service Award recognizes outstanding service to Excelsior College, including efforts in advocacy, recruitment, or outreach and service as a role model to others in helping the College achieve its overarching goals.

Reflecting on his contributions, 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.”

Read more about the recipients:

Lloyd Conway: Alumni Achievement Award

Lloyd Conway, of Lansing, Michigan, is from an Army family dating back to the American Revolution and is the first in his family to graduate college. Conway’s Excelsior degree made him eligible for the MI Civil Service test (on which he scored in the 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 nontraditional degree-completion program. His commitment to nontraditional education continues to be a driving force in his life and career. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Excelsior, Conway earned a MAT from Wayne State University.

Cynthia Wanek: Carrie B. Lenburg Award

While some announce retirement at age 62, Cynthia Wanek, of Crete, Nebraska, announced her new position at a Magnet status medical center. 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. She persevered against the odds as a nontraditional student to become a nurse. Her goal was a nursing job at her local critical access hospital, and she was ultimately hired in a small hospital. Wanek holds advanced licenses and finds meaning in direct, bedside patient care. She prides herself in giving comfort, hope, and courage through the end of life. A graduate of Excelsior with an associate degree in nursing, she earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska.

J. Scott Meier: C. Wayne Williams Award

From his first job delivering newspapers to working in agriculture while growing up and later in the food service industry, to his career in the Navy and all that has followed, Scott Meier, of Austin, Texas, has been in roles where he has served others. He is 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. Meier is involved in many 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 and a Master of Business Administration from University of Missouri.

Gregg Smith: Alumni Service Award

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 Regents External Degrees Program (now Excelsior College). Smith is an active member of several advisory boards, including 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. A graduate of Excelsior with a Bachelor of Science, Smith encourages students and alumni to give back to the College in any way that they can.