Distinguished Alumni 2014

2014 Distinguished Alumni

The Distinguished Alumni Awards Program honors College of DuPage graduates for their outstanding achievements. 

View pictures from the 2014 event!

 Kim Armour

 

Dr. Kim L. Armour, Class of 1984

Dr. Kim L. Armour (originally from Wheaton) chose nursing as a profession because she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. She holds certification as a nurse practitioner in women’s health care and perinatology as well as a nurse executive-advanced and is a registered diagnostic medical sonographer. Kim is the director of women’s health at Prentice Women’s Hospital of Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, where she leads an interdisciplinary team to care for more than 12,500 deliveries annually. Her passion for improving perinatal health care drives her work with the IHI, NICHQ, HHS, HRSA and numerous federal bureaus, as she also shares her knowledge through speaking and publishing. Kim has been active in the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN) for more than 20 years, serving at state and national levels and as the organization’s national president in 2009. Her volunteerism includes the March of Dimes, Ronald McDonald House, Chicago Cares and the Joliet Diocese in Kenya, Africa.

“Listening to my accomplishments is like having an out-of-body experience, because I really think of myself as the girl down the street,” she said upon receiving her award. “I just took advantage of all of the opportunities I could and walked through so many doors.”

 

 

 

Barsema

 

Dennis Barsema, Class of 1975

Dennis Barsema (originally from Naperville) learned early in life how to overcome obstacles and find ways to be successful. After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in business management, Dennis went from selling calculators door to door to high-level management, assuming vice presidential positions at a number of companies before taking an even bigger leap to become CEO of a newly formed telecommunications firm, Redback Networks. Under his leadership, Redback became one of the most successful initial public offerings in Wall Street history. Today, Dennis shares his business acumen with students at his alma mater, Northern Illinois University, where he founded the social entrepreneurship program and has been an unpaid instructor for 10 years, teaching social entrepreneurship and microfinance classes. Dennis has served on boards of directors for numerous venture capital-funded companies, as well as nonprofit boards. Currently, he is chairman of the NIU Foundation Board.

“I learned three things at College of DuPage: never assume, be accountable and sprint across the finish line,” he said.

     
Robyn Coffin

 

Robyn Coffin, Class of 1997

Robyn Coffin (originally from Downers Grove) has become a familiar face on stage, television and the big screen. This exceptional young artist earned her bachelor’s degree in Theater from Columbia College and explored many avenues as a working actor, from Shakespeare productions to feature films. Robyn is an ensemble member with Factory Theater and has a recurring role on the television series “Chicago Fire.” She recently appeared in commercials for Liberty Mutual Insurance and Microsoft Office’s Windows laptops, which premiered just following the 2014 Super Bowl. Robyn’s ties to COD remain strong. She worked with fellow COD alum Suzette Brown and her husband on the feature film “Finding Hope”and will be working with COD alum Danny Rhodes on a feature film titled “One Not Taken.” Robyn recently returned to COD to speak about her experiences working in the arts at the 2014 MAC Madness event.

“I met all of the people at COD who totally changed my life,” she said. “I learned about myself here and learned about what I could do.”

     
Buna Dahal  

Buna Dahal, Class of 1996

Buna Dahal (who came to College of DuPage from Nepal) is dedicated to teaching people how to reach beyond the ordinary. Buna is president and leadership strategist for DynamicBuna, Inc., a Colorado-based company she started in 2007 that offers executive coaching for clients such as the United Nations, corporate executives and community businesses. She is CEO of Mobileyez International Foundation, which she founded in 2014, and is also responsible for international programs coordination and logistics at Blind Corps. Buna is a published author and award winner in the field of leadership. She has been invited to speak at the United Nations and has provided motivational speeches across the globe. The Nepal native grew up accepting no limits to her own blindness. She supports a variety of organizations serving individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Buna is the governor appointee for the State of Colorado Rehabilitation Council (SRC) and serves as a chairperson for the State of Colorado Independent Living Council (SILC).

“I can truly say that my journey in America, especially my education and professional career, started right here at College of DuPage,” she said.

     
   

Bryan T. Green, Class of 1989

Bryan Green (who came to College of DuPage from Michigan) works as a lawyer for one of the largest and most prestigious firms in the nation – the U.S. Army. Bryan serve as attorney and advisor of business law for the Department of the Army and fulfills duties assigned as a Major-Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) in the U.S. Army Reserves. Bryan received his Juris Doctor degree from Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School, working in the private sector before joining the Army Reserves in 2005 and serving as Deputy Command Judge Advocate General. A member of COD’s 1988 and 1989 national champion hockey teams, he now coaches youth hockey teams and serves as director of the Allen Park Learn to Skate Program. Bryan volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and is active in the Knights of Columbus chapter in his Michigan hometown.

“I learned from (former Athletics Director) Herb Salberg time management skills, setting goals and how to achieve those goals, as well as how to look forward,” he said.

   

 

Amy Beth Kirsten  

Amy Beth Kirsten, Class of 1992

Amy Beth Kirsten, Ph.D. (originally from Naperville), is making her mark as a serious composer in America. Her current works aim to integrate music, language and movement in theatrical settings. One of her original compositions, “Strange Pilgrims”for string orchestra, chorus and film, commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, premiered in February 2014 at Carnegie Hall. Amy Beth earned her Doctorate of Musical Arts in music composition from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. She was awarded a coveted Guggenheim Fellowship in music composition, a Rockefeller Foundation Artist Fellowship and a Fromm Foundation Commission. Also a librettist and published poet, Amy Beth has taught in various locations, including the HighSCORE summer festival in Pavia, Italy, and in a composer residency at College of DuPage, as well as her current work with private students.

“I learned my craft with faculty who were exceptional craftsmen. They saw me and my potential far before I did,” she said.

   

 

Lauren Morgan  

Lauren Morgan, Class of 1984

Drawing inspiration from her late mother, a strong advocate for education, Lauren Morgan (originally from Glen Ellyn) knew she wanted to teach since she was 5 years old. Lauren is a professor of speech communications at College of DuPage, serving on the faculty since 1997, after spending several years as a high school teacher. The Glen Ellyn native earned her Master of Science degree in communications from Illinois State University and is a Chair Academy graduate. As the director of forensics at COD, Lauren has led the team to numerous state and national titles, including the 2010 Illinois Intercollegiate Forensics Association Community College State Championship and the 2013 Phi Rho Pi Community College National Championship. Lauren and her husband are active members of the Phi Rho Pi National Forensics Society and she was recently elected regional governor for Region IV, representing Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.

“While I was here, I became part of two amazing communities – the forensics community and the COD community,” she said.

   

 

Gus Vonderheide  

Gus Vonderheide, Class of 1982

When Gus Vonderheide (originally from Naperville) got a call to serve on COD’s Culinary & Hospitality Center advisory board in 2009, he gladly accepted the offer. He wanted to give back to the program that propelled his successful career in the hotel industry. After Gus earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in hospitality management from College of DuPage, he began his professional hotel career locally before joining Hyatt in 1994. Gus has led sales teams in Louisville, Dearborn and at the Grand Hyatt Washington. He also spent time in Hyatt’s Worldwide Reservation Center in Omaha, Neb., where he managed the Western Worldwide Sales Office and Group Call Desk. In his role as vice president of global sales, Gus is responsible for Hyatt’s 500 largest corporate and agency accounts based in the Americas that are involved in global business. He also serves as chairman of the global board of trustees for the Meeting Professionals International Foundation.

“College of DuPage was the perfect choice for me at that time. My classes offered textbook learning but I was allowed to get out into the hotel lobbies and kitchens which would become my offices,” he said.

College of DuPage Alumni Relations
425 Fawell Boulevard
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Phone: (630) 942-2462
Email: alumni@cod.edu

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