Tag Archive for: alumni

Kelly Taylor, a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates

SOU alumni working as Court Appointed Special Advocates

Several SOU alumni are volunteering this year as Court Appointed Special Advocates – a national organization that provides volunteer support and aid for children that have experienced abuse or neglect, and are struggling within the court system. The Jackson County division of CASA has welcomed many past and present SOU students as volunteers in recent years.

Kelly Taylor got his master of arts in teaching degree at SOU in 2006, and began teaching kindergarten shortly after. He had contact with CASA volunteers as part of that job, and eventually began volunteering himself, alongside his wife.

He currently works with two children, whom he visits at least once a month – developing personal relationships with them and their families, and offering a friendly figure to connect with. After spending time with the children, he writes court reports on their cases to help a judge make decisions for the children in a court of law.

“I got involved with CASA because I fervently believe that it takes every one of us to somehow do our part to make the Rogue Valley the best place it can be,” Kelly said, recounting why he decided to join CASA.

He enjoyed being able to get involved in the community, and the volunteer work has been very fulfilling. In general, he encourages help in the community in many different ways. CASA has been a great way for him to give back, along with activities such as nature maintenance crews, feeding the less fortunate and donating to charities.

Another SOU alum making strides with CASA is Alicia Linton Ambrocio, who majored in criminal justice with a minor in psychology at SOU. She started as an intern for CASA during her senior year of college, became a full-fledged volunteer shortly after and has now moved up to the position of case supervisor for the organization.

Alicia became inspired to work for CASA through her studies of the justice system, and realizing the potential for prejudice against people of color and other minority groups.

“Working for CASA is honestly some of the most rewarding work I have ever done,” she said. “Working with the families, putting a face to these court cases, and amplifying the children’s voices is so important, real differences can be made (in) the process.”

Alicia has found that the work done for CASA-supported children and families can have a long-lasting result on the community as a whole.

There are at least 10 current or former SOU students involved with CASA in Jackson County. The program provides its volunteers the opportunity to support children in need and foster a better overall environment for them and the communities in which they live. More information for those interested in getting involved with CASA and making a difference in children’s lives is available at this link.

Story by Nash Bennett, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer

Distinguished alumni to be recognized at SOU commencement event

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.