Meet this year’s recipients of awards from the Missouri State University Alumni Association.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Daytime drama writer had long-term success in film and television
Kay Alden Nelson
Bachelor’s in education, 1967, Emporia State University in Kansas; doctoral candidate in communication arts, 1970-74, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- One of the most produced writers in history, with a decades-long career in television.
- Has been head writer for both “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
- Has won six Daytime Emmy Awards (including two when she served as head writer) and two Writers Guild Awards.
- Used her platform to address critical social issues, such as cancer, homelessness, date rape and childhood poverty.
- Often returns to Missouri State to provide master classes and one-on-one workshops with student writers.
- Has been married for decades to Chicago businessman Vernon Nelson, her high school sweetheart (whom she met again 15 years after their graduation). They have three adult children: Constance “Conci” Nelson, John Nelson Alden and Noah Nelson.
“I have been privileged to enjoy a 40-year career writing daytime television. This has given me the opportunity
to enter millions of homes daily and provide compelling entertainment. Through our stories, we were able to bring
hope, inspiration and knowledge to our millions of viewers. I believe firmly in the power of the arts to educate, transform thoughts and bring people together.”
— Alden Nelson
Outstanding Alumnus Award
Alumnus is a recognized leader in national dairy farming industry
Randy D. Mooney
Owns and operates Mooney Dairy with wife Jan; chairman of the board of the Dairy Farmers of America
- Has worked on a dairy farm his whole life; he raised his family on land his ancestors have owned since the 1850s.
- Has been chairman of the board of the Dairy Farmers of America, or DFA, since 2010. DFA is a global dairy farmer-owned milk marketing cooperative and food company, and is the world’s largest supplier of raw milk.
- Under Mooney’s leadership, DFA has grown its presence in the world marketplace.
- His work with policies affecting food safety, nutrition, trade and dairy policy takes him to Washington, D.C., regularly, as well as to meetings around the globe.
- Has served in leadership roles for the National Milk Producers Federation, whose members represent nearly 80% of U.S. milk production.
- Is a member of the board of directors for both Hiland Dairy and the Missouri State Milk Board.
- Received many top Missouri awards for leadership in agricultural achievement and dairy farming.
“I have a passion for agriculture and specifically dairy farming. I am fortunate to be able to spend a career doing what I love and working with my family at the same time.”
— Randy D. Mooney
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Researcher recognized for his contribution in fight against cancer
Dr. Chad Walesky
Research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
PhD in pharmacology and toxicology, ’14, University of Kansas Medical Center
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
- Researches cancer; has explored new ways to identify how liver cancer develops.
- Was the recipient of the American Society for Investigative Pathology 2017 Young Scientist Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding and sustained achievements at the earliest stages of a career in biomedical research.
- Has won more than 10 other honors and awards in research and science.
- Has already been published more than 10 times in his career.
Excellence in Public Affairs Award
Alumnus has made giving back a central part of his business
Michael W. Cossins
President/owner, The Integra Group, Inc.
St. Louis metro area
- Founded The Integra Group in 1999. It was created to solve software engineering problems for businesses.
- The Integra Group has a long-standing commitment to helping those in need. They partner with four charities: Habitat for Humanity, Give Hope Global, Midwest Food Bank and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. Cossins has been personally involved in each, whether it is hanging insulation on a house or orchestrating food deliveries to children in need.
- Cossins established a charitable foundation committee within his company to give money and time to the less fortunate.
- The Integra Group gives each employee two paid service days per year so they may be involved in a charity of their choice.
- Cossins has participated in mission trips in the U.S. and abroad. He has gone to a Native American reservation in Wyoming, and twice to Belize, to serve those in need.
- Cossins is a leader in Young Life, a nondenominational Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school and college-aged students.
Volunteer Group of the Year
These alumni and friends help us raise a toast to student success
Hospitality Leadership Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Planning Committee
Committee members: Brian Inman, 1987; Matt Bekebrede, 2004; Sara Marquart, 1988; Angie Fellers-Beard, Fellers Food Service Equipment
- Committee members are all members of the Hospitality Leadership Advisory Board. They plan and execute a profitable wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser each February that benefits the students of the hospitality leadership department.
- The committee coordinates all wine, food, venue space and silent auction items for the event with zero expense to the department.
- Proceeds go to three uses: student scholarships, the Hospitality Leadership Executive Speakers series held each spring and future wine event needs.
- Each year, the committee sets an aggressive fundraising goal and works to generate revenue for each aspect of the event. Since its inception in 2013, the event has grown and has now generated more than $88,700 in cash and gifts-in-kind revenue.
- Committee members give their own personal time to make sure all event details are adequately addressed.
Next wine tasting: February 2020!
Sample wine, enjoy tasty hors d’oeuvres and bid on auction items — all for a great cause.
Follow the Hospitality Leadership blog for more details about the event.
Bears of Excellence 2019
The Hon. David Rush
United States Magistrate Judge, Western District of Missouri, Springfield Division
Juris Doctor, 1986, University of Iowa
- Presides over a robust federal criminal docket as well as federal civil cases, Social Security appeals and mediation in civil matters. His duties also include presiding over mental health hearings at the Federal Medical Center in Springfield.
- In 1994, appointed Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) attorney with the Department of Justice, Federal Drug Task Force Section, devoting a majority of his time to disrupting and/or dismantling major drug trafficking organizations. During his tenure he received numerous awards related to his prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations:
- Meritorious Achievement Awards from the South Central and West Central OCDETF Regions for prosecutions of “Operation Deuce IV Seven”(1996), “Operation Triple Threat” (1999) and “Operation Predator” (2003)
- Commendation Award by the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association (2008)
- Distinguished Service Award by the West Central OCDETF Region (2009)
- Voluntarily presides over Re-Entry Court, an intensive supervision program for federal criminal defendants with addiction issues following their release from the Bureau of Prisons.
- Frequent presenter on prosecuting federal drug trafficking cases and gangs, drug use prevention, and addressing the methamphetamine problem in southwest Missouri.
- From 1994-2005, served as a member of the Springfield R-12 School and Community Drug Use, Prevention, and Health Advisory Council.
- Board member and mentor since 2000, Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield, serving as Board President in 2007, and presented with the 2012 Bill Stalnaker Award.
Dr. Jessica (Trout) Snider
Hematologist/oncologist, Mercy Health System
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), 2006, Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
- Appointed to the Clinical Board for Mercy Health Systems
- Completed residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at the University of Tennessee, Memphis.
- Board certified in internal medicine, hematology and medical oncology.
- Served as the American Cancer Society Cattle Baron and sits on the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks Board.
- Named “Top Doc” for hematology/oncology by 417 Magazine and carries a 4.9 rating by her patients.
Sandy (Percival) Miller
Anchor, FOX 2 News, St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO
- Joined FOX 2 News in 2002, and is the primary anchor for the FOX 2 News weekdays at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. in St. Louis, MO.
- Emmy Award-winning journalist for excellence in reporting.
- Previously co-anchored the 9 p.m. news at KPLR-TV, St. Louis.
- Served as director of marketing for Koplar.
- Ten years in corporate television at Anheuser-Busch, STIHL-TV, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and many others.
- Worked as an intern at KOLR-TV while in Springfield.
- Sandy is a former Miss Missouri and placed 3rd runner-up in the national Miss USA Pageant.
- Active in her community with Missouri Humane Society, United Cerebral Palsy and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, among others.
- Served as emcee for Missouri State University’s St. Louis MarooNation Ball for the past four years.
Assistant superintendent, curriculum and instruction for the Neosho School District
Bachelor’s in education, 2004
- Has responsibility for managing federal programs, instructional coaches, English Language Learners, migrant and immigrant education and special education
- Oversaw the expansion of career exploration and project-based learning programs.
- Implemented a standards-based grading system, 1:1 technology for K-12 and a comprehensive literacy model with positive results to student achievement.
- Raised over $150,000 in community donations to support classroom literacy.
- Opened a new junior high school with an innovative learning environment.
- Implemented new Missouri learning standards.
- Serves on the boards of Bright Futures (Champions for Kids), United Community Fund Board (Secretary) and Advocates for Better Choices (Drug Court).
Senior merchant/Sr. buyer at Walmart
- Held positions in buying and planning over past 12 years in the areas of media and gaming, consumer electronics, electronics, furniture, home, outdoor living and apparel at Walmart and JC Penney.
- Team captain of 1992 Missouri State University Final Four Lady Bears basketball team.
- Assistant coach/recruiter, women’s basketball, Missouri State University, leading the team to six additional NCAA tournament appearances.
- Associate coach/head recruiter, women’s basketball, University of Michigan.
- 40 Under 40, Springfield Business Journal, 2000.
- Missouri State University Sports Hall of Fame, 1999; Missouri Hall of Fame, 2015.