The Clayton State Alumni Association welcomed more than 100 alumni and friends on Thursday, Apr. 28 for a “great” night in the Great Hall of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
The event was Association’s 19th Annual Dinner, wherein the alumni group annually recognizes the achievements of outstanding and distinguished alumni of the University. Along with the awards ceremony, the evening featured a dinner and an IMAX movie.
The highlight of the event is the naming of the award winners, where an alumnus is honored from all four of the University’s undergraduate Colleges and Schools, including an overall Alumnus of the Year. This year’s overall Alumnus of the Year was Sherry Hamilton, a 1977 graduate with a degree in education.
Along with Hamilton, other honorees were: Jackie Dorst, Alumnus of the Year from the College of Health; Kyle Pinion, Alumnus of the Year from the College of Arts & Sciences; Joseph Echols, Alumnus of the Year from the School of Business; Ahsan Huda, Alumnus of the Year from College of Information & Mathematical Sciences; and Hiba Elhag, recipient of the Outstanding Future Alumnus Award.
“What a wonderful evening at an incredible venue,” said Gid Rowell, director of Alumni Relations. “It is always so nice to recognize the accomplishments of our graduates at the dinner. They are all great representatives of Clayton State, and we are so grateful for their service and support. The alumni dinner has evolved into a really special occasion and the ‘signature event’ of our association.”
Outstanding Alumni Award Winners
A Clayton County resident for 46 years, Hamilton graduated with an associate degree from Clayton Junior College. While at Clayton Junior, she graduated with honors, was a senator in the Student Government Association, and a staff member on The Bent Tree Newspaper.
Presently, she and her husband, Joe Hamilton own Lake Spivey Golf Club, and she serves as the club’s financial officer. Hamilton also serves as the CEO of Southern Golf Services, Inc., a financial entity that purchases and leases equipment.
Over the years, Hamilton’s dedicated service to the University and to the Clayton County community have been matched by few.
She served on the Clayton State Foundation for 14 years, beginning in 1990 and also served on the executive board as secretary. She was the founding president of the Clayton State Athletics Association in 2003.
Along with her dedicated service to the University, Hamilton also served on the Southern Regional Medical Center Foundation from 1998-2000 and was a hospital auxiliary volunteer for 10 years. She served on the executive board for several years and was the organization’s president in 2000. Hamilton was instrumental in fostering an endowed scholarship from the Southern Regional Hospital Auxiliary to the Clayton State Foundation.
In addition, she has served the community, volunteering with a number of other organizations; the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Lake Spivey Community Association, Lake Spivey Country Club Homeowners Association, Clayton County Housing Authority, Clayton County District Attorney’s Office and others. Hamilton also served on the executive board of the Georgia Senior Women’s Golf Association for nine years and was president of the Golf Association in 2005-06.
After graduating from Clayton Junior College, Hamilton obtained masters and specialists degrees from Georgia State University in education. She taught for 13 years in Clayton County Public Schools before beginning her career at the golf club.
Residents of Lake Spivey, the Hamiltons have been married for 23 years and have one daughter and two grandchildren. Their daughter Angela Norris is 2005 graduate of the Clayton State nursing program.
Recognized as the Alumnus of the Year for the College of Health, Dorst graduated with a degree in dental hygiene in 1979.
She is an international speaker, author and consultant on infection prevention, OSHA safety and instrument sterilization. Dorst has more than 20 years of experience in the dental profession, business, public speaking and research.
After graduating from Clayton State, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from the University of Georgia and served as a research assistant in medical mycology.
Dorst’s speaking credentials include the International Orthodontic Congress in Paris and the Third International Congress of Dental Technology in Japan. She has been a featured speaker at the American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists, American Association of Endodontists, the Hinman Dental Meeting and Yankee Dental Congress in addition to many regional dental society meetings.
Pinion, this year’s recipient from the College of Arts & Sciences, received a bachelor’s degree in political science and graduated in 2006. He was the first graduate of Clayton State's then-new political science program.
During his time at Clayton State, he was a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity, the Vice President of Clayton State's College Democrats, and served on the production staff at Spivey Hall for four years.
Pinion began his career in public affairs as a legislative aide for the Honorable State Senator Valencia Seay. He then parlayed this experience into grassroots organizing for the Mike McGraw congressional campaign where he acted as political director.
In 2006, Pinion joined the staff of the National MS Society - Georgia Chapter, as director of Public Policy and Advocacy. In this role he lobbies for legislative advances for those living with chronic diseases and disabilities, as well as for the physicians that treat them, in both the Georgia Legislature and the United States Congress. During his tenure with the Society, he has overseen the passage of legislation to make in-home health care more affordable, health-care coverage more accessible, increased transportation options for all Georgians state-wide, and to make Georgia a more attractive place for specialty physicians to practice.
Pinion credits Clayton State professors Dr. Hugh Arnold, Dr. Joseph Trachtenberg, Dr. Marko Maunula, and Dr. Gene Hatfield for helping shape him into the advocate he is today and in creating his passion for the legislative and regulatory process.
Recognized as the Alumnus of the Year for the School of Business, Echols graduated with a degree in management in 2006.
Echols currently is employed at Clayton State in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions, and over the past five years he has served as an admissions counselor. During a tenure which has seen much change at Clayton State, Echols has been a constant. He spends much of his time on the road promoting Clayton State, and in his spare time, he reconnects with many of the same students he convinced to come to the University in the first place.
Echols is an active leader in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and mentors many Clayton State students. He is also a long-time supporter of both the Alumni Association and the Department of Athletics.
In his nomination, Echols was described thusly: “Joseph personifies Clayton State pride. When you see him he can tell you about the campus like few others and that is because of his passion for Clayton State and what it has meant to him.”
For the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences, this year’s recipient Huda holds both a B.S. in biology and a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Clayton State. He currently works for the National Institute of Health in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
Huda is a bioinformatics scientist with diverse background in biology, mathematics and computer science. His field of expertise lies in genetics, and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Tech in bioinformatics.
A former Georgia Rotary Student Program student at Clayton State, he was an actor in the Clayton State Theatre and president of the International Awareness Association.
Recognized as the Future Alumnus of the Year, Elhag will graduate with a degree in technology management with a concentration in computer networking in 2011.
Along with taking a full load of classes, she currently works for Brown & Brown Insurance Company as a service desk technician in the Information Technology department. She is also resident assistant at Laker Hall and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Elhag has worked in the University’s help desk, the HUB, and has been on the University’s Dean’s List the past three years. Her campus involvement include; Student Government Association, African Student Association, Campus Events Council and the Student Financial Advisory Board.
She is also actively involved in the community, and some of her activities include mentoring middle school and high school students with the Youth Empowerment Project and with Delta Academy in her sorority. She also regularly participates in AIDS, Breast Cancer, and MLK walks each year.
The Clayton State Alumni Association has been recognizing alumni with annual awards for the past 11 years. The awards are based on an individual’s achievement in their career area, leadership and community involvement. Alumni, faculty/staff, students and friends of the University are eligible to nominate award winners each year.
For photos from the Alumni Dinner, please visit the Alumni website at www.clayton.edu/alumni.