This year’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award will be presented to Ralph Freehauf, a 1973 graduate with a degree in Business Administration. He moved to Athens in 1971 after completion of his military service in the U. S. Air Force. He and his wife, Carlene, also an Athens State graduate, have been a part of the local business community since their arrival and have successfully owned and operated many small businesses. In 1979 a dream began to take root with the Freehaufs. Ralph fell in love with the theatre business and was able to learn all working aspects of the movie industry. Between Ralph and Carlene, a success story unraveled over a period of many years and his dream became their dream. The struggles were many, and they both worked continuously toward reaching their goal – to provide a safe, family friendly venue for entertainment in the Athens community, a need unmet for over 23 years. In 2006 the dream became a reality – and Cinemagic, a 5-screen indoor theatre was opened.
The Outstanding Alumna in the College of Arts and Sciences Award will be presented to Ginger Stone. She is a 2004 graduate with a degree in Behavioral Science. She began her work as a court advocate for Safeplace, Inc., a shelter for abused women that operates in a six-county area in northwest Alabama. Ginger has spent countless hours training professionals and improving the criminal justice system that interfaces with victims and serving as a board member of the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She uses the tragedies and triumphs of her life to help save and change the lives of others.
The Outstanding Alumna in the College of Business Award will be presented to Joyce Luker who graduated from Athens State College in 1993 with a degree in Management of Technology/Business. She began her manufacturing career with General Motors (Saginaw Steering Gear) in 1978 as an hourly employee, and in 2013 she retired as plant manager over a 200,000 square foot manufacturing plant with 252 employees and a yearly revenue of $375M. She is now enjoying her retirement and working with her local church in Moulton, Alabama.
Mark Lambert will be named the Outstanding Alumnus from the College of Education. He is a 2012 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Science. He is an eighth grade world history teacher and coach at Monrovia Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama. Mark is also a volunteer for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), coaches the seventh and eighth grade girls’ basketball teams, and serves on the Leadership Team at Monrovia Middle School that created “Project Ripple Effect”.
The Outstanding Recent Graduate Award will be presented to Javier Morales. Morales is a 2008 Behavioral Science graduate and serves as the Director of Development and Communication for the Unicorn Centers in San Antonio, Texas. These centers provide work for adults with disabilities and partner with businesses to hire adults with disabilities. While living in Oneonta, Alabama, Morales established Project Aprende, which provided transitional workshops for parents of at-risk Hispanic students to better prepare them for their child’s transition from high school to college. The USDA grant proposal written by Javier Morales was awarded $1.2 million and brought farmworker housing to Alabama. This was the first grant of its kind to be awarded to Alabama.
Rick Mould will receive the Deweese and Jim Beasley Appreciation Award. Mould has worked tirelessly as a dedicated Athens State employee but also as an advocate for its faculty, staff, students, and the community. He is being honored for his many hours of seeking to further the educational endeavors of Athens State University, for providing an educational opportunity for many individuals, and assisting community based non-profit organizations such as The Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce and The Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. He assisted in drafting legislation that would make Athens State University an autonomous institution and spearheaded a $2.5 million Capital Campaign, raising $3.5 million dollars. Mould recently retired as Vice President of University Advancement.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]