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Alumni Awards Handed Out During Homecoming at Southwestern

The Young Alumni Award, the 2008 Ambassador Award, and the Alumni Recognition Award were presented Friday, Oct. 10, at the Southwestern College Homecoming dinner in the Roy L. Smith Student Center.  The honorees were Bryon Rinke, Stephanie Sharp Bruyn, and George Cole.

The Ambassador Award was presented to Bryon Rinke, Winfield.  According to Susan Lowe, director of alumni programs at Southwestern, Rinke has been a valued friend of the college for over 16 years.  He has given innumerable hours of volunteer time in the SC greenhouse.

Rinke has been an award-winning radiologic and MRI/CT technologist for more than 25 years.  His avocation is growing, breeding, and judging orchids, and he has held several positions, including the presidency of the Kansas Orchid Society.  He has won numerous awards and recognitions for his work in this area.  In 2009, he will serve as vice-chair of the Great Plains Orchid Judging Center in Oklahoma City.

“Bryon understands and appreciates the difference Southwestern makes in the quality of life for young people and is a strong advocate for the college,” Lowe says. 

Bruyn was awarded the Young Alumni Award.  This honor is presented to a recent graduate who has made an outstanding commitment to the college

Bruyn, a 1998 graduate, was a legislative aide for foreign affairs, defense, international trade, and agriculture issues in the Washington, D.C., office of Senator John Ashcroft from Missouri.  After relocating to Kansas City, Bruyn became the Kansas government relations director for the American Cancer Society.  In 2002, Bruyn was elected to represent northern Lenexa and southern Shawnee district in the Kansas House of Representatives.  She also won subsequent re-election.

Bruyn is a native of Garden City.  At Southwestern she was senior class president, a Truman Scholar nominee, founder of the Southwestern College Republicans, treasurer for the Student Government Association, and Commencement speaker.  She graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in French, a bachelor of philosophy degree in international politics, and a minor in business leadership.  She and her husband, Dan, live in Lenexa. 

George Cole, Dallas, was presented the Alumni Award.   Cole, class of 1963, is a second generation Moundbuilder.  The son of Dr. Ward Cole ’30, George has been involved with Southwestern College for many years, including years spent as a member of the Board of Trustees. 

In the 1980s, Cole, an orthopedic surgeon, recognized the importance of preventive medicine and established a facility to provide homeopathic medicines, weight loss, and exercise.  His Dallas Wellness Center specializes in chelation to remove toxic metallic ions from the body, and bio-oxidative therapies. 

Because music has been so important in his life, Cole wanted to make it possible for Southwestern to offer music opportunities for all youth, not just those serious about majoring in fine arts.  Cole provided funds to establish a summer music camp at Southwestern College to enable public school students to have music experiences.  The summer of 2008 was the inaugural year for the Southwestern Summer Music Camp, and through his gift, the music camp will continue for summers to come.