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Carlin Alumni House

Alumni Awards celebrate leaders

Recognition honors six whose time, talents and treasures support CMU

Contact: ​Jeff Johnston


​There's the mentor to first-generation college students, the couple who spread Central Michigan University culture into Chicago, the former CMU trustee, and the political mover and shaker in Lansing and D.C.

And there's the Centralis Gold Award winner who's just beginning her own journey of leadership.

They are the winners of CMU's five annual Alumni Awards, and the university Alumni Association will recognize them this month with a ceremony and dinner.

"Our Alumni Award recipients are a great example of what it means to be a CMU Chippewa. They set the bar high for all of us, and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments." — Marcie Otteman, alumni relations

Alumni Award winners distinguish themselves by contributing significant time, talent or financial resources to help advance and bring positive recognition to CMU.

"Our Alumni Award recipients are a great example of what it means to be a CMU Chippewa," said Marcie Otteman, CMU executive director of alumni relations. "They set the bar high for all of us, and we look forward to celebrating their accomplishments with CMU alumni and friends."

Meet this year's honorees:

Isaiah Oliver, class of 2007, Alumni Service Recognition Award

mug-Oliver---Headshot[1].jpgAs president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Isaiah Oliver is passionate about making CMU and Flint, Michigan, better.

Oliver continues to find ways to give his time to CMU programs. He has been keynote speaker at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brunch and a mentor for CMU Pathways to Academic Student Success, which helps low-income and first-generation college students.

Oliver has promoted stronger academics, brotherhood and community service and demonstrates civic engagement consistent with CMU's mission to promote meaningful lives and responsible citizenship.

Sarah Opperman, class of 1981, Dick Enberg Commitment Award

mug-opperman-2012-174-001--Sarah-Opperman--trustee[1].jpgFrom 2009-16, Sarah Opperman served on CMU's Board of Trustees, holding the chair position twice.

She joined The Dow Chemical Co.'s public affairs office right after graduation and served the company for more than 28 years before retiring as vice president of government affairs and public policy.

Her honors over the years include CMU's Centennial Year Award in 1992, Dow's Genesis Award for People Excellence in 2000 and induction into CMU's Journalism Hall of Fame in 2006.

Opperman has donated to CMU projects including development of the College of Medicine's Student Resource Library, the Opperman Public Relations Internship Endowment, Park Library and the Leadership Institute that now bears her name.

In addition to serving as a trustee, she has given her time to the CMU Advancement Board, National Campaign Steering Committee, Women's Connection Advisory Board, CMU Research Corp. Board of Directors and the Journalism Department Advisory Board.

Bob Schellhas, class of 1988, Distinguished Alumni Award

mug-schellhas-Headshot[2].jpgBob Schellhas knows his way around Washington, D.C., and Lansing, Michigan.

He is a former chief of staff to Sen. Rob Portman, deputy chief of staff to former House Speaker John Boehner, communications director and senior legislative assistant to former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, and special assistant to former Rep. Bill Schuette (now Michigan's attorney general).

He also has held senior roles in statewide and congressional campaigns in Florida, Iowa, Michigan and New Mexico. A principal at Washington Council Ernst & Young, Schellhas monitors, strategizes and advocates for corporate and trade association clients on issues before Congress and the executive branch.

Since being successfully treated for a benign brain tumor several years ago, he has donated to glioblastoma research at CMU.

Schellhas stays involved at CMU by donating to The Washington Experience, a D.C.-based program dedicated to cultivating public-spirited scholars, rigorous understanding and improvement of the human condition. This program allows students to live in Washington, D.C., for a semester to explore career options and network with those who work in government.

René and Stan Shingles, Honorary Alumni Award

mug-shingles-IMG_2319[2][3].jpgStan and René Shingles give their time not only to CMU's Mount Pleasant campus, but also to the university's Chicago office. They open their home to Chicago-area students for a Labor Day picnic and mentor them through their time at CMU while fostering a tight-knit community.

René is a program director, faculty member and internship coordinator for athletic training in The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. Stan is assistant vice president of University Recreation. They've worked at CMU for more than 25 years.

"The Shingles represent everything that CMU stands for," said alum Natilie Williams, who graduated in 2014. "They embody the family culture while leading on campus with their hearts, intelligent minds, funny personalities and welcoming spirits."

Mackenzie Flynn, May 2018 graduate: Future Alumni Leader Award

mug-flynn-Headshot[3].jpgMackenzie Flynn graduated from CMU in May 2018 with a 3.94 GPA.

As a senior student leader in the annual Phonathon, she interviewed and hired more than 200 students over a year and a half, leading to the best fundraising year in nearly a decade. 

She was active in the CMU Honors Program as a Centralis Gold Award recipient, and she volunteered at a residential facility in Costa Rica helping victims of human trafficking.

Flynn chaired the CMU College Republicans and represented the organization nationally. She also was a leader in the Michigan Federation of College Republicans.

10 Within 10

The invitation-only event takes place Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Courtyard by Marriott at CMU.

In addition to honoring Alumni Award winners, the ceremony will recognize CMU's 2018 10 Within 10 award recipients — young graduates who honor CMU through work in their career or community within 10 years of receiving a CMU degree.


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