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McPherson College Young Alumni Award Recognizes Career, Life Achievements

posted Oct 30, 2012 in ALUMNI

The 2012 recipients of the McPherson College Young Alumni Award demonstrate creativity and hard work in their daily careers – And they trace back their skills and abilities to their days at McPherson College.

The annual Young Alumni Award honors accomplished McPherson College alumni who graduated approximately within the last 30 years. This year's recipients are Mark Baus, '82, of Alexander, Kan.; Jonathan Klinger, '02, of Traverse City, Mich.; and Tracy Stoddart Primozich, '97, of Dayton, Ohio. They were honored with a special ceremony on Oct. 19.

Mark Baus, '82
When Mark Baus goes to work on his farm every day, he has the privilege of seeing God at work.

"Do you have a sense of awe at waiting to watch seeds grow? It's not describable," Baus said. "I helped make this possible, but God designed this."

From a young age, Baus had known that his father was counting on him taking on the family farm – becoming the 5th generation to work that land. He now sees his daily work – growing wheat, milo and alfalfa and boarding cattle – as something of a spiritual experience.

"It's watching God perform," he said. "It's knowing that you're a part of something that's bigger than you are."

He now is appreciative of the life that he has inherited.

"I just enjoy being able to do something different and being my own boss," Baus said. "Not that I chose this life, it kind of chose me, but I'm glad that it did."
In addition to his work in on the farm, Baus has also been a political leader for more than two decades, serving as the mayor of Alexander, Kan. – a small community of about 70 people.

He points to his time at McPherson College – playing on the soccer and basketball teams – as what helped him learn how to be a team leader.

"You're part of a team that has a mission and a responsibility. It just reinforced that you have to be a part of what's around you and participate," he said. "It helped me continue to grow as a citizen in the city in which I live."

What most helped him get over his natural shyness, however, was joining up as a yell leader his senior year at MC.

"That was a really fun time, the camaraderie we had," he said. "That was something I never expected to be doing, that's for sure. There might have been some growth there with leadership, being in front of a group of people. You want to have fun, but not be foolish."

Jonathan Klinger, '02
When you love old cars, a career like Jonathan Klinger's would be ideal – completely within the collector car industry.

“Most events that I travel to for my job are places where I would love to go on vacation," Klinger said. "I've made a career in the industry which is also where my hobby lives.”

Klinger was among the first McPherson College automotive restoration students to earn a four year bachelor's degree in the profession and he's now the first automotive restoration alumni to receive a Young Alumni Award.

While there were many directions he could have taken graduation, he opted to begin his career at the same institution that taught him, working as director of automotive restoration advancement to help raise money for the unique program and to promote it across the nation.

From there, Klinger moved on in 2007 to become the public relations manager at Hagerty Insurance, the largest insurer of classic cars in the world. He's come up with a number of unique concepts for promoting Hagerty and encouraging people to actually use old cars on a regular basis because, as he says, they are "meant to be driven." One of these ideas was "365 Days of A", where he used a Ford Model A as his daily commuter for a year and blogged about the experience.

Wherever he goes, Klinger said he finds himself talking about his experience at McPherson College in the automotive restoration program.

"It's not forced conversation," he said. "They're always very interested to talk about it. All I have to do is mention it and let them ask the questions."

During his time at McPherson College, Klinger said his interest and love of old cars grew deeper, confirming his career choice. In particular, his experiences on car-related trips stand out – especially swap meets and traveling to Bonneville Salt Flats to see a group of students test a working recreation of the 1934 landspeed record holder.

"They were fun at the time and then you look back and realize how cool it was to do that. I hope students do that now," he said. "You don't have to have a lot of money to have fun."

Tracy Stoddart Primozich, '97
The young Tracy never had any doubt about what she was going to do with her life – she was going to teach.

"I was the kid who took home all the extra worksheets at the end of the year, did them in the first weeks of summer and 'played school,'" Tracy Stoddart Primozich said.

And that's exactly what she attended McPherson College to become, with her degree in elementary education.

But then she started to hear about teacher burnout, and became worried about what she would do if she couldn't teach anymore. So after working briefly as a substitute teacher, she decided to try something new, and joined up with Brethren Volunteer Service – a yearlong full-time volunteer experience through the Church of the Brethren. She ended up in Washington, D.C., working with the nonprofit "School of the Americas Watch", organizing nonviolent protests and meeting with legislators about a controversial United States training facility for foreign soldiers.

She said the experience helped her to both broaden and refine the skills she had developed as an educator at McPherson College. Since then, she has also worked in the Church of the Brethren denominational offices helping recruit and guide volunteers, and has served as a teller at a local credit union. Even in this, she saw her work as a type of service.

"I was engaging with people in their everyday lives and their struggles and finances and being able to be present with the people in front of me," she said. "People need someone to talk to and being able to be there in that moment is a form of ministry."

Today, she works as the director of admissions at Bethany Theological Seminary – a job that's part educator, part counselor and part guide. She helps people discover whether a deeper learning in theology is right for them – often even for those not planning to enter "ministry" in the traditional sense. Doctors and nurses, for example, are better at their jobs with a background of theology.

“My job feels like a perfect blend of my skills and my gifts and my passion – a passion for listening to people's stories and walking with them on the journey of where they are in their life," Primozich said. "What it really boils down to is, it fits.”

Primozich said that the caring and supportive community at McPherson College proved a perfect environment for arriving where she is today. At the college she transferred from to go to MC, Primozich said her social security number was her student ID – she never felt more like a number.

"Coming to McPherson was completely the opposite of that. I was a person, and completely encouraged and affirmed in doing things that I might not have done before," she said. "I was known and I was cared for and I wasn't just a number. It was really hard to ditch class when you would run into your professor later that day on campus."

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