MSU Honors Distinguished Alumni and Spirit Recipients

MSU Honors Distinguished Alumni and Spirit Recipients

Midwestern State University honored eight of its own graduates during a Homecoming brunch Oct. 29 when the MSU Alumni Association presented its 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards, the Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumni Award, and the MSU Spirit Award.

Johnny Carter was named the Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumnus. The award is given in honor of the late, longtime MSU science professor. Carter is a partner in the Houston law firm of Susman Godfrey LLP, where he has won numerous high-profile judgements for the firm's clients. Carter joined Susman Godfrey in 1998 and made partner in 2002.

Carter has received numerous honors, including being named a Rising Star three times by Law & Politics Magazine, and a Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation. He was named the Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences Distinguished Alumnus in 2006.

Carter earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from MSU in 1993, then attended The University of Texas School of Law where he was managing editor of the Texas Law Review. He received his J.D. with honors in 1996.

Rhonda Gardner Hensley was named Distinguished Alumna for the West College of Education. She is director of The Recovery Center in Wichita Falls, a treatment facility for those struggling with substance abuse or problem gambling, and searching for a spiritual recovery program. As director, Hensley is responsible for staff, client care, and everyday operations.

Hensley received her bachelor's degree in social work in 2001 and her master's in counseling in 2008, both from MSU. She has completed substance abuse prevention specialist training through the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. She has owned and operated the Hair Port salon in Wichita Falls since 1978.

The Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities & Social Sciences named Dennis Barnes as its Distinguished Alumnus. Barnes is executive vice president and chief operating officer for Cambridge Holdings Inc., a Dallas-based company that develops and manages medical real estate properties. He oversees property management, leasing, accounting, and human resources. His 25 years of health care industry experience includes his role as chief executive officer of Texas Back Institute, one of the largest practices in the United States.

Barnes graduated summa cum laude from MSU in 1978 with a Bachelor of Science in Education and earned his master's in psychology in 1987 from MSU.

Guillermo Herrera received the Distinguished Alumnus honor from the Robert D. & Carol Gunn College of Health Sciences & Human Services. Herrera is ECMO program manager at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth. ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) is a technique that uses a machine to take over the work of the lungs and sometimes the heart in critically ill patients. Herrera coordinates quality assessment and other aspects of the treatment. He also educates medical professionals around the world about ECMO.

Herrera earned his Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Care from MSU in 2007, and his MBA from the University of Maryland University College in 2014.

The Dillard College of Business Administration named David Ickert as its Distinguished Alumnus. Ickert is vice president of finance for Air Tractor Inc. in Olney, Texas. Air Tractor manufactures agricultural and forestry airplanes that are sold around the world using programs of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Because of his international financial knowledge, Ickert has served on numerous committees on foreign trade and economics, including presidential forums, and has testified before various U.S. Senate and House committees.

Ickert earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from MSU in 1974. He and his wife Marilynn ('74) were co-recipients of the Outstanding Business Student award their senior year.

Obaidur Rashid was named by the College of Science & Mathematics as its Distinguished Alumnus. He is vice president of software engineering at CA Technologies, a global software development company in San Jose, California, and leads a product line with $140 million in revenue and more than two million users. Rashid has worked extensively developing Software as a Service (SaaS) products - software that functions as a web-based service instead of being installed on-premise.

He earned his bachelor's degree in 1997 and his master's in 1998, both in computer science from MSU.

Nancy Tran-Horne received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts. Tran-Horne is Associate Executive Director of International Operations for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. She oversees campus operations for European/Pacific locations, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Korea, and Japan. Tran-Horne also represents Embry-Riddle at air shows and trade events around the world.

Tran-Horne earned her bachelor's degree in mass communications from MSU in 1996 and her master's in human relations from the University of Oklahoma's Lakenheath campus in the United Kingdom in 1999.

The Alumni Association named Keisha LaToia Ellis as the Spirit Award recipient for 2016. Ellis earned her Bachelor of Business Administration in 2000. While at MSU she was a Student Ambassador, chair of the Artist-Lecture Series committee, served as a peer counselor, and was active in the MSU Student Government Association. Ellis now works for Dallas Area Rapid Transit as a business analyst.

Ellis is an active member of the MSU Alumni Association and spearheads the Minority Alumni Association. She serves as a volunteer college recruiter, initiated the Dr. Ernest A. Dover Jr. scholarship endowment, and embodies the mission of the MSU Alumni Association. She promotes community service, unity, and continues to live by her lifelong motto, "Lift As You Climb."

Each year, MSU's six colleges honor an alumna/us whose accomplishments and careers have brought credit to the university. Honorees must be distinguished in their profession or life's work. They must be a person of integrity and demonstrated ability who will inspire others by their recognition. They must reflect the importance of their education at MSU and show pride and a continuing interest in their alma mater.

In addition to the Distinguished Alumni honors, the Arthur F. Beyer Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to a recipient who has continually brought honor to MSU through his or her accomplishments. It emphasizes lifetime achievement in a field.

The Spirit Award stands for Service, Pride, Initiative, Responsibility, Integrity, and Teamwork and is awarded to individuals or groups in recognition of their support of Midwestern State University. Established in 1996, the first honorees were the MSU Kiowa Kooks, who have contributed countless hours of service for the benefit of Midwestern and the Alumni Association. 

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