NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/Bm1oLu)
(Ashland, Ore.) — Nearly 40,000 graduates have earned degrees at Southern Oregon University since its founding in 1872, and four of them will be singled out as part of Saturday’s 2017 commencement activities for the merit they have brought to SOU.
This year’s SOU alumni award recipients are Victoria Kelly, for Distinguished Alumni; Ryan Wines, for Distinguished Young Alumni; James Van Delden, M.D., for Distinguished Service; and Kathleen Thomas, for Excellence in Education. The awards will be presented at the Pre-Commencement Alumni Breakfast on Saturday morning.
Kelly, who earned her SOU bachelor’s degree in social science and human services in 2005, experienced a parent’s worst nightmare when her 17-year-old son disappeared in January 1999, and his body was discovered 18 months later. She turned her grief into advocacy and education, cofounding the Tommy Foundation, serving as a member of the Southern Oregon Child Abduction Response Team and acting as a senior consultant for Team Hope/National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Her efforts have helped extend support to more than 14,000 families.
Wines, a 2001 marketing graduate at SOU, is the founder and CEO of Marmoset, a boutique music agency in Portland. He and his team craft original music for film, advertising and television, and curate rare, vintage and emerging artists for music licensing. Wines first recognized his passion for music as a radio DJ at SOU, and has since has pursued creative work while also advising record labels and artists including Beat the World Records, The Dandy Warhols, Dolorean and The Dimes.
Van Delden, who emigrated with his family from the Netherlands to Grants Pass in 1961, became a U.S. citizen while attending SOU and received his bachelor’s degree in biology in 1970. He attended medical school at Creighton University in Nebraska and joined the U.S. Army in 1971. After retiring from active duty in 1971, he joined the Army National Guard and the Indian Health Service as a civilian.
He has delivered babies in war-torn nations, cared for children on Native American reservations of the Great Plains, and served on medical missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Van Delden retired from the Army in 2001 at the the rank of brigadier general, and he continues to volunteer with veterans’ organizations and the Omaha Nation tribal clinic in Nebraska.
Thomas entered SOU as a non-traditional student – holding off on her higher education until her youngest child entered elementary school – then earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2004 and her master’s degree in teaching in 2008. Her path toward teaching began with an active role in her children’s education, regularly volunteering in programs including German kindergarten; international schools in Belgium, Holland, and Norway; British primary school; parochial school; and public schools in Florida and Oregon.
She discovered a passion for chemistry while at SOU, and has taught at North Medford High School for the past eight years and served as science department head for the past four years.
About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.