by Kate Poss-Morency, Director of Development
What defines success in 21st Century education? What tools and skills do our graduates need to thrive throughout life beyond Wilson’s walls? When one searches for 21st Century skills online, following are descriptors: Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical-thinking, Leadership, Responsibility, Cross-Cultural Interaction, Accountability. These are the tools and attributes that Wilson educators work to instill in each of our graduates each and every day.
We enjoy following our Wilson graduates long after their graduation speeches have been made and diplomas distributed – to see how they carry these 21st Century skills beyond Wilson’s walls and into the community. In order to celebrate the successes of our Alumni, three years ago the Wilson Alumni Committee instituted our annual Distinguished Alumni Awards. Each year, the committee seeks nominations for and chooses two Distinguished Alumni Award Winners. These winners are introduced and celebrated at our annual Thistle Auction. February 10th, Wilson honored the 2018 winners – Turner Holthaus (co ‘01) and Rodney DeaVault Fierce (co ‘97).
When Turner Holthaus was six years old, he knew that he wanted to be “an Army man” when he grew up. Turner never lost sight of this vision. After graduating Wilson Turner went on to attend MICDS, and next to West Point where he graduated in the top 15% of his class. His two tours of duty in Afghanistan and assignments in Africa and Cuba saw him rise to the rank of Captain, earning the Bronze Star for battlefield initiatives in the process. During his active duty, Turner studied at the University of Lille in Lille, France. But, his education did not stop there. Today Turner is continuing his studies at the MIT Sloan School of Business, from which he anticipates graduation later this spring. Turner continues the Wilson tradition of Making Your Mark A Good One, most memorably for him as a mentor to a young boy through Big Brothers Big Sisters. As Turner was overseas on February 10th, we were thrilled to have his parents, Marta and Richard join us on his behalf to accept the award.
Rodney DeaVault Fierce was taught early in life to never stop learning new things, a lesson that stays with him today. After leaving Wilson to attend St. Louis Priory School, Rodney went on to Princeton University where he discovered a love of children’s literature. Perhaps it was his grandmother’s lesson - literature will take you all over the world if you let it - that influenced Rodney to leave a job in New York City’s world of corporate law to devote his life to bringing the joy of literature to others as an English professor. His Master’s in Children’s Literature from Simmons College led to Rodney’s Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. A frequent guest speaker and lecturer, Rodney’s work has been presented at WonderCon, The Pop Culture Association, and Children’s Literature Association Conference. We were honored to have Rodney and his parents join us on February 10th.
Turner and Rodney are just two of the many Wilson graduates who have gone on to become leaders in our communities and their respective fields. Businessman Harold S. Geneen stated, “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and actions.” We believe Rodney and Turner have shown us leadership both in their attitudes and their actions. We look forward to what life has in store for these two Wilson Champions.
If you know of a deserving alumni, look for our 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award nomination forms which will be available later this spring.
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