Marshall University Alumni Association to host 85th Alumni Awards Banquet on April 13


Marshall University and the Marshall University Alumni Association (MUAA) are set to host the 85th annual Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with dinner and awards at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

The Marshall University Alumni Awards Banquet recognizes outstanding alumni, university supporters and students during an evening of celebration and reverence of the great things being accomplished by the Marshall University alumni community.

“We are thrilled to recognize a few special members of our Marshall family at this year’s awards banquet,” said Matt James, executive director of alumni relations. “Each of our honorees represents the grit, determination and success often attributed to Marshall alumni and I’m honored by the opportunity to celebrate each of their achievements and service to our alma mater.”

Highlighting the list of more than a dozen honorees at the 2024 awards banquet are Dr. James M. Lester as the recipient of the Marshall University Distinguished Alumnus award. Joel M. “Woody” Woodrum has been selected as the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Marshall University award. Holly Mount has been selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Community Achievement award, and Kyle D. Powers will receive the Distinguished Young Alumnus award.

Individual Awards of Distinction will also be presented during the event to honorees from each of Marshall’s schools and colleges. This year’s Awards of Distinction will go to Josh Meredith (College of Arts and Media), Beth “Buffy” Hammers (College of Business), Hazel Shrader (College of Education and Professional Development), Alicia Cunningham (College of Engineering and Computer Sciences), Dr. William P. Marley (College of Health Professions), William Dodson (College of Liberal Arts), Dr. Thomas Lemke (College of Science), Dr. Larry D. Dial Jr. (Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine), and Dr. Jordan Sheppard (Marshall University School of Pharmacy).

Growing up in various regions of the South, East and Midwest, Lester graduated from Chesapeake High School in Chesapeake, Ohio. After he turned 17 years old, Lester enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

After a few years in the service, Lester started attending classes at Marshall in 2004. He worked while he was in school and eventually landed a job at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Huntington. He earned a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007 and his master’s degree in counseling from Marshall in 2009.

Lester held many positions and roles at the VA, starting from GS-4, the most entry-level position. As he was passionate about helping others succeed, he eventually became a counselor at the VA, where he worked directly with hundreds of veterans struggling with their reintegration into civilian life. During this role, he developed an interest in improving the program and how we serve veterans and their families. He began developing himself from a subject matter expert to an agency leader, and since then, he has been involved in many pilots, workgroups and innovations throughout different agencies and community organizations. For his contributions, he has received multiple accolades. His doctoral dissertation was an innovative study of specific cognitive variances in military veterans and its implications for rehabilitation and/or reintegration back to civilian life.

Lester also enjoyed teaching as an adjunct professor for Marshall University’s Graduate College and has served on advisories, committees and councils with dozens of organizations and agencies around the country, including several boards of directors and two international councils. Currently, he is the assistant director of the Philadelphia and Wilmington VA Regional Offices, where he serves more than 1 million veterans and their families in Pennsylvania, the state of Delaware and Southern New Jersey.

In other categories, Woodrum is the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Marshall University award, Mount is the recipient of the Outstanding Community Achievement award, and Powers is the recipient of the Young Alumnus award.

Over the past 50 years, Woodrum has served Marshall in numerous ways and has become an institution in the Marshall and local athletics communities. Most know him best during his time as a radio color commentator for Marshall football and basketball broadcasts, as well as hosting or co-hosting local pre- and post-game shows. He currently serves as a public address announcer for Marshall’s football, basketball and volleyball teams, among other sports. He has been a Marshall University Athletic Hall of Fame committee member since 1999.

In addition to his work at Marshall, Woodrum also worked full time at Kindred Communications. At Kindred, Woodrum hosted Sportsline Daily Talk Show, wrote and edited the Herd Insider and did play-by-play and color for high school sports broadcasts. He currently works a part-time  job for Kindred on Marshall pre- or post-game shows, as well as being the play-by-play voice of Huntington High School. For his work with Marshall and at Kindred, he has received numerous awards including West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year from the National Association of Sportswriters & Sportscasters.

Mount graduated from Marshall in 2004 from the College of Health Professions and went on to receive her Master’s in Nursing Informatics. She began her career in nursing in the pediatric intensive care unit and has worked as an air and ground transport nurse, clinical sales manager for North America, and in health care leadership. She now works as a director with the West Virginia Health Information Network. She serves as vice chair of Huntington City Council and chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee. She is a member of the City of Huntington’s Planning Commission, Mayor’s Council for Public Health & Drug Control Policy, and the City Council Drug Control Policy Committee. She also serves on the advisory panel for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department Harm Reduction Program. She coaches volleyball at St. Joseph Catholic School and softball majors for Huntington Little League.

Powers grew up in Lavalette, West Virginia, with his parents Michael and Christine Powers. He attended Wayne High School and graduated in 2017. Powers stayed close to home as he would go on to attend Marshall that fall. Powers is a 2021 graduate of Marshall University obtaining a degree in criminal justice and minoring in political science.

In the summer of 2018, Powers would attend his first ever training camp as an equipment intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers, only this time not as an avid fan like years prior. Growing up as a Steelers fan, inspired by his mother who grew up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers always held a special place in Powers’ heart. Over the next two seasons, Powers would travel to and from Pittsburgh for home games and would attend training camps in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, with the Steelers. In the spring of 2020, he was elected student body vice president alongside President Anna Williams. Powers’ role within the Steelers organization continued to grow as he was asked to stay on for the full season during the pandemic of 2020 and would work in Pittsburgh. While working full time, attending class remotely, and governing a student body as student body vice president, he juggled quite a bit. Upon returning in the spring of 2021, Powers finished out his time at Marshall. Powers currently serves as a full-time member of the Pittsburgh Steelers equipment staff.

Other honorees at the annual alumni awards banquet include the inaugural “3 C’s” Award with Cathryn P. Easterling, Walker R. Tatum and Kathy G. Eddy as recipients. In addition to alumni chapter awards, Marshall University Black Alumni will also award Janet Gaither with the Fran Jackson Scholarship award, Chiana Bradley with the Nate Ruffin Scholarship award, and Ta’Marra Cook with the Janis Winkfield Scholarship award.

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Media Contact

Rebecca Stephens
Director of Events and Public Relations
Marshall University Foundation

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