Vision, dedication honored during Alumni Banquet at St. Andrews
Laurinburg, N.C. – Three alumni received special awards for their vision and dedication during the 2011 Alumni Association Banquet at St. Andrews Presbyterian College Friday evening.
Photographer Jon Holloway received the 2011 Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award while longtime educator Mary Archie Brown McNeill was honored with the highest award given by the alumni association, the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Holloway, who is based in Greenwood, S.C., graduated from St. Andrews with a degree in biology in 1991. Since moving into the profession of photography, Holloway has taken time to return to his alma mater to share insights with art students and other interested members of the community.
Professional opportunities have allowed Holloway to travel the globe, creating photographic exhibits on South Carolina, India, South Africa, Cuba, Gates of the Arctic and Native America. His work has been nationally and internationally exhibited, and collected by private and corporate clients, museums and galleries. Many of his pieces have been picked up by such publications as South Carolina Beautiful Places, National Geographic, America 24/7, South Carolina 24/7, Daybreak 2000, and The Palmetto Portrait Project among others.
“Jon’s work helps us see better,” said Neal Bushoven, distinguished professor of politics and friend of the artist. “He encourages us to move our eyes from his images and turn to the world around us. He has great strength in his pictures of people. There is a sense that the photo is a snapshot taken during a conversation and we are invited to join.”
Holloway turned the honor back to his alma mater in accepting the award.
“St. Andrews gave me the foundation to really explore the world,” he said. “The professors shared a wealth of knowledge and taught me to travel. When I come back to St. Andrews it is like coming home. It was Neal who taught me to see the world in a different manner.”
For McNeill, who graduated from Flora Macdonald College in 1956, the honor of the Distinguished Alumni Award was shared with her classmates enjoying the 55th anniversary of their graduation.
“I am so honored, so humbled and so overwhelmed,” the St. Paul’s native and retired Hoke County schools educator said. “I accept this award very humbly on behalf of the Class of 1956. This event helps us to look back and value those who have shaped our lives. We thank them for their generosity and hospitality and this award. We will try to live up to the values recognized in it.”
After spending more than 20 years in the classroom, McNeill served Hoke County Schools as the Cultural Arts Coordinator for another 10 years before retiring to focus her attention on Leadership Hoke. She has received numerous awards for her work over the years, including the 1990 N.C. Governor’s Volunteer Award and the 2004 Raeford-Hoke Citizen of the Year Award.
While both Holloway and McNeill were prepared for their awards, the third recipient was surprised with the award at the banquet.
“This award is rarely given to anyone,” said Wendy Harris, incoming Alumni Council president, in introducing the Distinguished Merit Award. “This award is given to a member of the faculty or staff, either currently at the college or retired, who is honored for his or her vision and commitment while at St. Andrews and his or her ongoing impact on the lives of alumni. We are giving this very, very special award to our College President Paul Baldasare.
“Paul’s commitment cannot be questioned,” she added. “His dedication cannot be questioned. His vision to be able to guide us over, around and through the obstacles before us cannot be ignored. And it is made even more special by the fact that it is signed by a representative of every St. Andrews graduating class.”
The award and the subsequent standing ovation overwhelmed Baldasare.
“This is quite unexpected and very meaningful,” he said.
About St. Andrews Presbyterian College
An innovative and bold academic venture, the distinctive character of St. Andrews has been marked by an interdisciplinary curriculum, a highly acclaimed college press, an award-winning pipe band, national champion equestrian teams, and first-rate scholarship. In addition to classes on the main campus, adult learners also choose the Center for Adult and Professional Studies opportunities through St. Andrews @ Sandhills and St. Andrews ONLINE.
On Aug. 29, 1958, the merger between Presbyterian Junior College and Flora Macdonald College became official with the formation of St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, N.C. Further information may be obtained by visiting the College's website www.sapc.edu, calling 800-763-0198 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.