The Rogers State University Alumni Association will host the inaugural RSU Alumni Awards dinner April 29. The event will take place at 6 p.m. in the ballroom of the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center on the RSU campus in Claremore. Tickets are now available and may be purchased online at www.rsu.edu/AlumniAwards.
Three Rogers State University alumni will be honored during the event. Rhett Ables will receive the RSU Alumni Rising Star Award; Dr. Andrea Hunt will receive the RSU Distinguished Hillcat Award; and Bill Spears will receive the Hill Legacy Award.
Sponsored by the RSU Alumni Association, the Distinguished Alumni Awards is a new program which honors alumni achievement of RSU graduates and its predecessor institution, Claremore Junior College (CJC).
“There were several outstanding alumni we considered for recognition, but ultimately we selected three truly exceptional candidates whose character and stories embody the spirit of Rogers State University,” said RSU Director of Alumni Engagement Travis Peck.
The RSU Alumni Rising Star award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who has graduated within the last five years and is already making a big impact while representing RSU in their chosen field. The RSU Distinguished Hillcat award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who has graduated since 2000 and has made a mark in their established career field and sphere of influence. The Hill Legacy Award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who graduated from RSU’s predecessor institutions between 1972 and 1999, making a tremendous impact in their life and career.
RSU Alumni Rising Star honoree Rhett Ables was recruited by Amazon after his graduation from RSU in 2019, working in their new robotics center. After working in Tulsa and hiring 4,600 employees, he was promoted to regional business partner, taking over nine delivery stations in Oklahoma and Colorado.
Following this, Ables became director of human resources and recruiting operations at Walmart in their supply chain business. He has supported more than 10,000 employees as an HR professional since graduating from RSU.
He also has received two Army accomplishment medals for his leadership abilities in the military: the Purple Heart Foundation Leadership Award for his contributions to the RSU GOLD program, and the Global Change Maker Award, after leading a veterans support group at Amazon that raised more than 4,000 toys for Toys for Tots, and arranged transportation to their site.
RSU Distinguished Hillcat honoree Dr. Andrea Hunt is a 2002 graduate of Rogers State University. Dr. Hunt is an associate professor of sociology and executive director of the Mitchell-West Center for Social Inclusion at the University of North Alabama in Florence, Alabama. Through these platforms, she has demonstrated an expansive view of diversity, inclusion and mentorship that has placed her among UNA’s most influential faculty members.
She is a member of the 2022-23 Emerging Leaders program within UNA’s College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. She was honored with the 2022 Dr. Lawrence J. Nelson Outstanding Teacher Award, the 2021 W.T. McElheny Award for making positive contributions to the UNA student body, and the 2020 President’s Diversity Award, among others.
Hill Legacy Award honoree Bill Spears graduated summa cum laude in 1977 with his Associate of Science from Claremore Junior College (CJC), following which, he earned a Bachelor of Nuclear Engineering with special distinction from the University of Oklahoma in 1980, and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1984.
Spears worked for Public Service Company of Oklahoma for 13 years, as an engineer, capacity planning and interconnection arrangements coordinator, manager of fuels planning and analysis, and manager of strategic development and analysis.
Following his time at PSO, Spears worked as an assistant federal case director and regulatory case manager at the Central and South West Corporation in Dallas, Texas (1995-2000), then as a senior manager in regulatory affairs at TXU Energy, also in Dallas (2000-2003).
Since 2003, he has been an attorney for Segrest and Segrest, PC, where his primary responsibilities are to address various legal and business issues for the largest generation and transmission electric cooperative in Texas and for various member cooperatives.
All three alumni award honorees will be recognized at the 2023 RSU Alumni Awards Dinner, scheduled for Saturday, April 29.
For tickets to the awards dinner or to become a table sponsor, visit www.rsu.edu/AlumniAwards.