Alumni Achievement Awards

  • Alumni Achievement Awards Image

Brigham Young University graduates with significant professional accomplishments from each college will be honored with Alumni Achievement Awards during Homecoming 2017.

Brigham Young University graduates with significant professional accomplishments from each college will be honored with Alumni Achievement Awards during Homecoming 2017. The honorees will each give a lecture as part of the honor that will be targeted towards students, but open to the public.

All lectures are on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. MDT, with the exception of the Marriott School lectures on Friday at 10:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m.

This year's honorees and lectures are listed below.

University Award Recipients

John D. Bell

College of Life Sciences

Heavenly Father, Are You Really There? A Scientist Wants to Know

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

2102 LSB

When John Bell (BS ’82) had the chance to return to BYU as a faculty member in 1990, he was elated. Why? “Because of my love for BYU,” he says. Not only did he meet his wife, Rhonda, there, but “BYU laid the gospel foundation that has strengthened me ever since.” A former dean of BYU Undergraduate Education, and associate dean of Life Sciences, he’s now academic vice president at BYU-Hawaii. With degrees in zoology, physiology, and pharmacology, he’s a versatile scientist, and had a strong research career in biophysics and science education. Despite his academic success, he feels his greatest career accomplishment is his students. His commitment to teaching shows in his earning of the Young Scholar Award, a Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award, and his being honored as Teacher of the Year in Zoology several times. He wants to give back what BYU gave to him as a student, when scholars like Ed Pinegar and Bill Bradshaw befriended and mentored him.

Karin H. Berg

David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies

Setting the Stage for Life in the Law and Beyond

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

238 HRCB

Karin Hoops Berg (BA ’98, JD ’03) is an award-winning partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman, a top national law firm, where she focuses on cases of “insolvency, bankruptcy, complex loan workouts and restructurings, and secured and unsecured financing.” She works with clients at all stages of money-lending relationships, and across many industries, from healthcare to manufacturing. She’s involved in the Turnaround Management Association and chair of the Chicago Network of the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation. She continues her BYU relationship by serving on the Kennedy Center Advisory Board and has been a volunteer leader organizing events in the Chicago area. Berg also serves as a board member of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society - Chicago Chapter. She acknowledges the role her BYU experience has had in grounding her and helping her grow. In whatever realm she’s in, whether helping refugees and immigrants, serving as Young Women’s president, or cheering on her kids at lacrosse and soccer games, Berg’s life well reflects the Kennedy Center’s motto: Expand your world.

Richard Culatta

College of Humanities

Why the Tech Industry Needs More Humanities Majors

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am


Humanities graduate Richard Culatta (BA ’04, MA ‘06) is a leader in innovation and education. He is the CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), a nonprofit serving over 100,000 educators worldwide. Prior to joining ISTE, Culatta was the first Chief Innovation Officer for the state of Rhode Island. In 2011 Culatta was appointed by President Obama to lead the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, where he focused on expanding internet access to schools and using technology to close long-standing equity gaps. He also pioneered approaches to involve the tech industry in solving tough educational problems. Culatta’s broad experience includes serving as policy advisor to U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chief Technology Officer at CIA University, learning technologies advisor for the David O. McKay School of Education, and director of operations for the Rose Education Foundation. He is married to violinist Shaundra Baird, with whom he has four children.

Larry L. Eastland

College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences

My Decade of Decision Began at BYU

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

250 SWKT

For a man with many transformative experiences, from being raised in a musical family in small-town Idaho, to serving in cold-war Germany as a missionary, or having combat and command roles in Vietnam as a Marine Captain—BYU was still foundational for Larry Eastland (BA Political Science/International Relations) and helped set him on a path of accomplishment and service. He’s served four U.S. presidents, including as Staff Assistant to Gerald Ford; earned a Ph.D. in quantitative behavioral research and been on the faculty of USC, UM Amherst, and Cal State Fullerton; and been a delegate to the World Tourism Organization, a deputy to the Undersecretary of State, and Director of Operations for the Summit of Industrialized Nations. Today he leads an international business advisory group, Global Public Strategies, and is chairman of many other organizations, from a mining company to the John A. Widtsoe Foundation. Other service has included LDS public affairs, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, and the Center for the Advancement of Public Life.

Linda H.L. Furuto

College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

Voyaging Around the World with Christ as My Navigator and Ethnomathematics as the Compass

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

1170 TMCB

Born and raised in Hau‘ula, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, Professor of Mathematics Education Dr. Linda H. L. Furuto  (BA ’00) teaches at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and is part of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, where she is an education specialist and apprentice navigator of the traditional voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a. Furuto earned her Ph.D. from UCLA and her M.S. from Harvard and has research interests in quantitative research methodology, mathematics achievement, ethnomathematics, and educational access and equity. She has taught as visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo, as a research practitioner in Boston public schools, at the LDS Technical College in Fiji, and at the University of Hawai‘i - West O‘ahu, where she founded the Mathematics Center. Her research and consulting spans from the U.S. Department of State to Vietnam’s Ministry of Education, and her speaking ranges from National Geographic to the Smithsonian Institution to the International Congress on Mathematical Education. Among her many awards are two prestigious university teaching awards from the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents.

Sharla Smith Hales

J. Reuben Clark Law School

Greatest in the Law: Choosing to Love in Life and Career

Location, Time and Date TBA

While yet a student, Sharla Smith Hales (BA ’82, JD ’86) showed an unusually deep commitment to her family as well as her education. Her parents died in a plane crash, and in time she and her husband took in her three youngest siblings and a sister who’d become paraplegic in an accident. Despite this difficulty, Hales finished her JD summa cum laude, then added four children of her own to the family. Always interested in education, after being a stay-at-home mom she eventually ran for school board and served for twelve years, including a year as president of the Nevada Association of School Boards, for whom she still does trainings. Since 2008 she has been general counsel for Churchill County School District. Besides serving in many callings, from Relief Society president to early morning seminary teacher, Hales mentored at-risk students and also served as a BYU Law School Alumni Association class representative.  Hales currently serves as a board member of a nonprofit that supports struggling families, and as the LDS Public Affairs Director for the Reno Coordinating Council.

Thomas R. Ingersoll

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology

Joy in the Engineering and Technology Journey

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

140 JSB

Whether as a mechanical engineering student or on the job, Tom Ingersoll (BS ‘85, MEM ‘86) learned to keep his head in the sky and his feet on the ground. For 25+ years, he has been equal parts aerospace engineer and entrepreneur, but 100 percent dedicated to both, building successful companies that develop important communications technologies. As CEO of Skybox Imaging, Ingersoll led the company to conceive and launch two high-resolution imaging satellites—the first commercial units able to capture full-motion HD video from space, and at a fraction of the cost of other similar satellites. He sold the company to Google. He’d built and sold other satellite technology as CEO of Universal Space Network, and before that he’d built advanced technologies for satellite and rocket systems at McDonnell Douglas. Today, Ingersoll is still flying high: you might see him with his family or on a bike at the top of a mountain, or perhaps raising venture capital for young tech companies.

Nancy Kuehner Kraus

College of Nursing

Many Faces, Many Places: The Healer's Art in Action

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

270 SWKT

Nancy Kraus, a nurse administrator by organizational fiat and great competence, handles four director roles at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County: Service Line, Critical Care, Clinical Education, and Professional Development. Nursing research, magnet programs, learning management, academic affiliations, and more are part of her broad responsibilities. She’s an exceptional administrator, but what drives her, beyond her love of critical care, and excellent training and education, is her love of people. Since graduating from BYU in 1982, Nancy not only raised four children with her husband, Douglas Kraus, but dedicated her life to aiding and serving those in need. Whether being a 24/7 on-call nurse for neighbors and ward members with feverish babies or foolhardy teens, spending a week in the Houston Astrodome giving urgent care to Hurricane Katrina evacuees, or making room in her schedule to do long hours of nursing on many trips to Africa, Asia, and Central and South America, she practices the healer’s art with skill and compassion.

Robert E. Parsons

Marriott School of Management

Never, Never Give Up

Friday October 6, 10:00 am
Friday October 6, 11:00 am

710 TNRB

Robert E. Parsons, Jr. (BS ’79, MBA ’81) knows the value of education, having worked two to three jobs while a BYU student. Since then he has put his business degrees to good use, working for the Marriott Corporation for nearly 25 years—first as a financial analyst and finally as CFO of Host Marriott. For the last 13 years he has been the CFO of Exclusive Resorts, and with a demanding travel schedule over the years he has flown more than 5 million miles and been to 100+ countries and every continent. Being abroad hasn’t diminished his connection to BYU: his father taught religion; he met his wife, MaryAnn, there; he’s served on the National Advisory Council and Executive Committee of the Marriott School for many years, and received the W. Lowell Benson Lifetime Service Award from the BYU Management Society. A believer in BYU’s motto of service, Parsons has tried to serve whenever and wherever possible—in his family (he has eight children), at church, and in the community.

Liz Shropshire

College of Fine Arts and Communications

Teaching Children Peace Through Music: The Life-Changing Impact of Music Education for Children in War Zones

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

Madsen Recital Hall HFAC

Liz Shropshire (BM ‘84) has turned her music pedigree into a passion for peace, and her music into a means for healing. For 18 years, the Shropshire Music Foundation has gone into regions of severe conflict and loss to build locally run, youth-led music education programs that develop leadership, peacemaking, and problem-solving skills. Serving groups ranging from embattled Kosovars to Northern Ireland communities divided by religion, and from child soldiers in Uganda to Yazidi and Syrian refugees encamped in Greece, Shropshire’s organization is an extension of her love for music and people. Following her BYU degree in music composition and theory, and an advanced degree at USC in Composition for the Music Industry, Shropshire composed for many media while also pursuing music education for emotionally-disturbed children in Los Angeles as well as the Long Beach Symphony. In 1999 she headed to Kosovo to provide music therapy to kids in shelters and schools, and in 2000 she began her Foundation, still dedicated to turning children into instruments of peace. (

Brent G. Wilson

David O. McKay School of Education

Riding the Educational Herd: Honoring Commitments to Our Profession and the People We Serve​

Thursday October 5, 11:00 am

115 MCKB

Brent G. Wilson (BS ’76, PhD ‘82) is currently Professor of Information and Learning Technologies in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado at Denver. His high scholarly output is driven by his curiosity to know what makes good instruction and how to make excellence reproducible—as well as by his desire to support and help teachers and learners. He’s an influential, widely-cited thinker in the field of instructional design, and his books and publications on various theories of instructional design have helped shape his discipline. In his research Wilson has considered the role of agency in online learning, how good design can make learning transformational, and how the field of instructional design can be strengthened by considering the practices of related disciplines. Other research interests include experiential approaches to technology and education, educational technology, distance and e-learning, and bridging theory and practice. His impressive list of books, publications, and accolades, however, do not eclipse his passion for his family, students, and music.