The Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) hosted its annual awards gala virtually on Thursday, June 24.
Columbia College alumni excel not only as supporters of their alma mater, but also as professionals in their careers and as citizens committed to bettering their communities. Each year, a select few of these inspiring representatives are recognized for their accomplishments.
“As always, we had an excellent pool of nominees, however, because we were unable to host our gala last year due to the pandemic, we decided to limit our very special Class of 2020, and to not add to it for 2021,” said Suzanne Rothwell, vice president of Advancement. “When you are introduced to our recipients, I think you will see why the year long wait has been more than worth it.”
Gala attendees from around the nation gathered in Zoom breakout rooms to mingle and reminisce during a social hour before coming together to watch the formal awards presentation. The virtual production also provided a platform for all alumni and the expansive college community to tune in live from the comforts of home. In addition to remarks from college leadership, friends and family members recorded well wishes for each recipient as they accepted their awards.
Donna Osborne Bradley, recipient of the Professional Achievement Award, earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from the college’s St. Louis location in 2011. Her extensive resume includes more than 20 years of experience as an attorney and educator, including her current role as vice president of Academic Affairs at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois. She continues to teach human resource management and criminal justice courses to graduate and undergraduate students at multiple colleges, including Columbia College. Bradley has also impacted countless lives by serving an inner-city ministry for 16 years and working as the education and outreach coordinator at St. Louis Metropolitan Equal Housing and Opportunity Council.
Virginia Zimmerley Stewart received the Community Service Award for contributions to the Columbia, Missouri, community. She graduated from the college’s Evening Program in 1976 and has served as a longtime community volunteer alongside her husband, former University of Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart. In 2014, the couple founded the Virginia and Norman Stewart Cancer Center at Boone Hospital Center, which supports every cancer-related service the hospital offers, including community outreach, screening and surgery.
Victor Ciardelli, the Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, graduated from the Day Program in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He has used his education to create what has become one of the largest independent retail-mortgage companies in the United States. In addition to serving as president and CEO of Guaranteed Rate since 2000, the Chicago-based entrepreneur formed the Guaranteed Rate Foundation in 2012, which has donated nearly $2.5 million to families and their communities in times of hardship or unexpected need.
Pat Hagenbuch was awarded the Jane Froman Courage Award for her perseverance as a respected female business owner. A 1962 graduate of Christian College, she is co-owner of her family’s business, Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc. The Illinois-based company provides custom off-highway haulage solutions with a worldwide reputation for excellence and equipment in more than 40 countries.
“It’s my honor to be able to host this event where we can highlight four of our truly outstanding alumni,” Rothwell said. “Even though we’re not together in person, we’re so happy to be able to bring so many of our friends together.”
The CCAA created the Alumni Awards program with the organization’s founding in 1963 and continues to celebrate members every year who share an affinity for the rich history of college and personal commitment to excellence. The CCAA represents more than 94,000 Columbia College graduates around the world. Gifts may be given in honor of award recipients. Visit my.ccis.edu/givenow to support the Columbia College Fund or an individual scholarship, and indicate the individual to be honored with the gift at the bottom of the form.