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Young Alumni Award Recipients Honored during Homecoming weekend

posted Oct 18, 2007 in ALUMNI

Homecoming weekend held special meaning for three McPherson College alumni as they returned to campus Oct. 12 to be recognized as the 2007 Young Alumni Award recipients. Those honored were Doug Lengel ‘82, Shannan Kirchner-Holmes ‘92, and Jenny Stover-Brown ‘97.

Instituted in 1994, the awards typically honor three alumni each fall at the Homecoming Honors Convocation. The purpose of the awards is “to recognize achievement and potential for accomplishment of McPherson College young alumni.” Recipients are recommended by the Alumni Awards Committee and approved by the board of trustees. All alumni of the college are eligible for nomination, with preference given to those celebrating 10-year to 30-year class reunions during Homecoming weekend.

Doug Lengel holds a BA in history from McPherson College and an MBA in economics from Wichita State University. He resides in Carlsbad, Calif., with his wife, Wylene Gaeddert Lengel ‘80. At present, he is secretary to the pastors at the Carlsbad Presbyterian Church.

Lengel served as an instructor at McPherson College for the 1985-86 academic year before accepting a position as an assistant bank examiner with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. From 1988 to 1990, Lengel was an associate professor of business at Manchester College, North Manchester, Ind. From 1990 to 1993, he served as a visiting professor of business at Tri State University, Angola, Ind.

Lengel returned to Kansas in 1993 and joined the staff of Sterling College as an associate professor of business. From 1996 to 1998 he served as associate academic dean. In 1998 he and Wylene moved to Seattle, Washington, where Lengel worked first in sales at Barrier Motors and later as education director for the Master Builders Association.

Several years ago, Wylene’s work in the pharmaceutical/biotech field required the couple to relocate to southern California.

“Wylene and I decided a long time ago that we couldn’t follow two careers simultaneously,” Lengel explained. “In about 1993 we decided that it made more sense for her to follow her (higher-paying, more difficult to find) pharmaceutical/biotech jobs than for me to try to work my way up in the education/service field. That choice came most obviously to the fore in 2002-2003, when she worked 65 to 70 hours a week and I stayed home to take care of the house or volunteered at the church. I have been very happy with the small college/association/church positions I have held, but am glad we don’t depend on the non-profit sector for most of our income.”

Through the years, Lengel has edited multiple club and church newsletters and served on many academic, church and service organization boards. The Lengels gifted a seminar room in McPherson College’s Melhorn Science Hall and are listed on the college’s Heritage Roll of Honor.

Lengel is the son of Leland ‘56 and Nancy Keim Lengel ‘57. Dr. Leland Lengel taught in the history department at McPherson College from 1963 until his untimely death in 1998.

Dr. Shannan Kirchner-Holmes, Port Townsend, Wash., holds a BS in biology from McPherson College. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her class from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1996 and completed a family practice residency in Boise, Idaho, in 1999. She is board-certified by the American Academy of Family Physicians. At present, she is associated with the Jefferson Medical Group in Port Townsend.

Kirchner-Holmes and her husband, Nathan Samuel Holmes, have a son, Samuel David Holmes, born in January 2005, just three months before Nathan’s year-long deployment to Iraq.

Kirchner-Holmes served as commencement speaker at McPherson College in May 2000. During her address, she told the audience, “...We’ve all heard the slogans, ‘Carpe diem’ (‘Seize the day’) and ‘Follow your bliss.’ Before I even entered college, I was filled with idealistic expectations about medicine and caring for people in need. Then I started my medical training. ‘Bliss’ is not on the list of words I would use to describe the experience. I also found that the objectivity that we are taught in medicine can be a slippery slope into cynicism and hardness of heart. Luckily my patients have saved me, and though medicine isn’t always ‘blissful,’ it continues to bring me joy.”

“Through my patients, I have been allowed to be the first person to hold a brand-new life, to watch a healthy child grow, and to be present as someone’s life ends with grace and dignity...”

In 2002, Kirchner-Holmes returned to campus to participate with other alumni in the theatre production of “The Octet Bridge Club.”

With the exception of an eight-month stint in Sitka, Alaska, in 2000-2001, Kirchner-Holmes has practiced family medicine in Washington state since 1999. She is a member of the Jefferson County Medical Society and participates in the Skagit Valley Peace Fellowship. She is the recipient of a service award for her 2 ½ years of leadership of the Family Support Group of the 448th Civil Affairs Battalion of the Army Reserve.

A member of the Church of the Brethren, she volunteers her professional skills as needed and able.

Kirchner-Holmes, along with her father, David Kirchner, and brothers Shane Kirchner ‘92 and Shawn Kirchner, gifted the choral rehearsal room in Hess Hall in honor of their wife and mother, Carol Christy Kirchner ‘65.

A stellar high school athlete, Jenny Stover-Brown holds a BA in secondary English education from McPherson College. She received a master’s degree in social welfare from the University of Kansas in 2001. She resides in Wichita with her husband, Chris Stover-Brown, and daughter, Molly Stover-Brown. The Stover-Browns are expecting a second child this month.

Since 2001, Stover-Brown has served as a school social worker with the Sedgwick County Special Education Cooperative. Her current placement is at the Valley Center Middle School, where she created a “Reading Buddies” program. The program sends lower-level middle school readers into kindergarten or first-grade classes to read to younger students.

“Both parties benefit,” Stover-Brown said.

As a volunteer with Brethren Volunteer Service in the late 1990s, Stover-Brown spent one year in Atlanta, Ga., as a kitchen manager, case worker and volunteer coordinator at Café 458. She spent a second BVS year at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, Ill., where she assisted with Youth and Young Adult Ministries as well as the newly organized Church of the Brethren “Collaboration on Admissions” program.

While working toward her master’s degree at KU, Stover-Brown held various internships and assistantships in northeast Kansas.

Stover-Brown has strong family ties to McPherson College. “I was a fourth-generation family member to attend Mac,” she explained. “(My) great-grandfather, Burton Metzler, was a long-time religion professor. Three grandparents attended, as did both of my folks (Philip ‘72 and Katy Albright Stover ‘72). There is a flower bed dedicated to my mom on the campus.”

While in college, Stover-Brown spent three summers serving as a McPherson College counselor/ambassador to camps in six states. She served on the McPherson College Alumni Board from 2003 to 2005.

Active in the Church of the Brethren at the local and district levels, she sings in her church choir, serves on the Fellowship Committee and provides children’s stories as needed. She is a past Sunday school teacher as well as a trained disaster childcare provider through the Church of the Brethren disaster relief program.

Stover-Brown performs as part of the musical duo “Delores and the Pickin’ Fretter.” ‘Delores’ is my accordion, and I do vocals,” she explained. “My partner plays guitar and sings.”

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