Anna Lopez and Jamie Cardenas
From left to right: Jamie Cardenas, Sharnicia Dotson, Steve Aoudou, Anna Lopez, Jonathan Edwards, Ashley Lopez, Dylan Ramos, Aaron Kennard, Jordon Washington, Gabriel Calderaro
Katy Gillis '16 & Chris Jackson '16
From left to right: (front row) Nicole Bray, Tessa Clabby, Rhea Kavina, Katy Gillis, and Chris Jackson. (back row) Matt Nunez, Roman Morales, Adam Littleton, Andres Cuartas-Olarte, and Jessica Brubaker.
2015 - Aqua Gods
2014 - Aqua Gods
2013 - Team Fat Amy
2012 - Team XII
2011 - Hilltop Leadership Development | DHL
2010 - Hilltop Leadership Development
2009 - Hilltop Leadership Development
2008 - Shenanigans
2007 - Class of 2007
2006 - Class of 2006
2005 - Class of 2005
Linus Akanoh ’06 chose his career path out of a “desire to be constantly challenged, and to make a real difference in the community.” As a senior manager with Deloitte Advisory’s Strategic Risk market, Linus focuses on crisis management, disaster recovery grants management, and finance transformation. In the simplest terms possible: his day-to-day work helps to protect and strengthen small businesses, individuals and communities.
Beyond that, Linus is often seeking new opportunities to share his professional expertise with others – leveraging his achievements for the greater good. He says, “I am motivated by the opportunity to make a lasting impact, leaving behind a legacy of education, empowerment and inspiration all around me.” He is an ideal selection for the 2017 Alumni Achievement Award.
Linus led Deloitte’s Junior Achievement outreach program in Central Texas. His role was to help raise funds and provide program support, including volunteering in classrooms. He is involved with United Way, the March of Dimes, and he leads the worship team at his church. Linus’ financial contributions to the community are impressive, too. He gives generously to Mission Capital, an organization dedicated to the success of local nonprofits, as well as to his alma mater, St. Edward’s University.
He has remained actively involved in the university’s educational mission since his graduation. As a guest lecturer for Accounting Information Systems courses, he shared his professional experiences with promising students for seven years. Linus officially became an adjunct faculty member within the Bill Munday School of Business in 2015.
It is not surprising that teaching is one of Linus’ expressions of service to others – he counts St. Edward’s teachers among his most influential role models. “I was challenged and inspired by great teachers, such as Michael Harris, Joseph Pluta, and Barbara Cassidy,” says Linus. “They emphasized going beyond the confines of a textbook to truly understand the world through critical thinking and first-hand experience.”
The St. Edward’s tradition of experiential learning is a natural fit with Linus’ unique talents and strengths, as are the Holy Cross values of respect for others and academic excellence. He says, “I have a natural curiosity for learning and an appetite for new and complex challenges. I also like to focus on meaningful impacts and outcomes.”
Indeed, throughout Linus’ professional journey, he has created meaningful outcomes for many individuals and communities by sharing his expertise, time, talent and treasure with those around him. In doing so, he has made clear a deep desire to transform personal achievements into support for others. “I hope that people will most remember that no matter how high I reached, I always made sure to send the elevator down so that others could join me,” he says.
Linus lives in Austin, where he is an avid golfer and soccer player.
Stephanie Bazan ’02 wears two necklaces. The first features the word “give,” and is a present from her husband, Matt Abbott ’03. The second comes from her brother, Joseph ’05, and it reads, “mama.” Though these words seem short and simple, they signify a much greater truth about Stephanie’s lifelong passions of service, family and community.
Her selection for the 2017 Alumni Service Award is based on the many ways she has pursued these passions.
“I hope people will most remember that I give all that I can,” Stephanie says. At St. Edward’s University, she has indeed created a legacy by giving generously of her time, talent and treasure.
While a student, she excelled in her studies, participated on the dance team, earned selection to the national “Who’s Who Among Students” listing, and was one of ten graduating seniors selected for the university’s Presidential Award in 2003. Yet among all her Hilltop achievements, she counts her service positions among her most important experiences at St. Edward’s.
She got an early start in service as an Orientation Coordinator. “Being an Orientation Coordinator was paramount to my future success,” she says. “That experience sparked future leadership and service opportunities for me.”
For example, Stephanie participated in the Service Break Experience (SBE) program through Campus Ministry. SBE takes small groups of students to community service sites around the world. In the months before their departure, they reflect on issues of social justice as well as their own spirituality and values.
Stephanie’s first SBE was in Mexico. “I left the comforts of home and learned about myself, about how to live simply, and about what service to others can look like,” she says. “I based my Master’s thesis on that experience.”
She returned to SBE as an alumna, working as an advisor for a group of students who helped people facing homelessness and poverty in Denver. And that is just one in a nearly innumerable list of ways she has supported Hilltoppers.
Following active involvement in Austin-based alumni events, she accepted the university’s invitation to become President of the Austin Alumni Chapter. Through this position, she helped to connect local alumni to the Holy Cross mission through organized service and social events. In 2009, she joined the Alumni Association Board of Directors, which helps to guide decisions about programs and services offered to the university’s 25,000 alumni. In 2014, Stephanie became President of the St. Edward’s University Alumni Association Board, working as the primary liaison between the university’s Board of Trustees and the alumni family.
Now the past president of the Alumni Association, Stephanie also maintains a connection to today’s Hilltoppers. She’s served as an alumni panelist for student development programs including LeaderShape and Orientation. She’s represented the alumni family at GradFest, Summer Send-offs and the Ring Ceremony, among other student-focused events.
And while Stephanie’s service to St. Edward’s University is very impressive, she has also found time to support a diverse mix of local and national organizations, including:
Stephanie has gone very far in the Holy Cross tradition of improving the world through acts of service and community-building. Complementing her service to others is her new role as a mother. She and her husband have a one-year-old son, Bastian. “I am most proud of my family and the village I surround myself with,” says Stephanie. “My son motivates and challenges me to see things differently and to continue to be a force for good.”
Simon Boyce ’06, MBA ’08 is ranked second on St. Edward’s career lists for both singles wins (69) and doubles wins (75). His outstanding athletic credentials are just one area of distinction. He was also academically driven – graduating summa cum laude during his undergraduate career and finishing his Master’s a short time afterward.
His academic and athletic excellence, as well as his post-season honors, have earned Simon selection for the Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
“Turning up to St. Edward’s from a small town in Australia was at first daunting. I didn’t know anyone, and I had no idea what would transpire in the first week, let alone the next four years,” says Simon. “During my years, we won a lot of conference titles, played in the Elite Eight, won regional titles (both personally and as a team), and I played with and coached some great tennis players.”
In fact, Simon’s career as a student-athlete contained many highlights:
Despite his records and successes, Simon says the most important experiences at St. Edward’s involve relationships, learning, and community. “You meet friends and mates for life and coaches you can call friends, who you still speak with regularly and can look up to. Head Tennis Coach Russell Sterns taught me every day to work hard, have fun, compete and win.”
Simon hasn’t ventured too far from his Hilltop home. While finishing his Master’s degree, he became Assistant Coach to the Men’s and Women’s Tennis teams at St. Edward’s, helping to coach the Men's team to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2007. In 2009, he earned the title of Assistant Coach of the Year from the ITA for his role in helping both the Men's and Women's teams reach the Sweet Sixteen.
Simon lives in South Austin with his wife, Meg, and their two children Ellory (3) and Georgia (8 months). He leads the North American Business Development team at ARMS Reliability. He still attends Hilltopper team games with his family to cheer on the blue and gold. He also coached and played with the Austin Crows Australian Rules Football Club from 2009 to 2015. During that time, the team won three national titles.
Lexi Hagen ’11 says, “I hope people remember me as an always smiling, highly determined and motivated team player who did whatever it took to bring success to those around her.” Her Hilltopper Softball teammates will agree — during a 2008 Regional Tournament elimination game, she hit a triple and scored the winning run that got them into the championship.
Combine that career highlight with her ongoing service to others, as well as her commitment to excellence, and Lexi becomes the epitome of what it means to be a Hilltopper student-athlete. She is a welcome member of the Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Beginning with her strengths on the field, Lexi deserves much celebration. Highlights include:
From all these accomplishments, though, Lexi says one of her proudest was from her freshman year. “Winning the 2008 Softball Regional Championship and helping to send St. Edward’s Softball to their first Division II College World Series is a favorite memory of mine.” She attributes her early success to Assistant Coach Lindsay Gardner. “The confidence and drive she instilled in me pushed me to accomplish many things on and off the field. Her competitive nature is contagious, and being around her, I couldn’t not strive to be better.”
Relationships such as this were a key component of Lexi’s Hilltop experience. She says, “St. Edward’s will forever be dear to me because I met lifelong best friends there and really grew into the person I always hoped to be. While I am proud of my athletic and academic achievements, my experience at St. Edward’s brought me so much more, including immeasurable joy and much-needed confidence and self-love.”
After graduation, Lexi used that confidence to return to school to become a Registered Nurse – a path that she says was inspired by first-hand experiences with hospital staff. “After feeling helpless and owing an infinite amount of gratitude to those who took care of my family members during hospitalization, I wanted to be that person who gets to help others when they are experiencing some of their most challenging, and sometimes tragic, times of their lives.”
Lexi works as a Registered Nurse on the oncology floor of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital and she volunteers as a nurse for a local community clinic. “I am also an Angel for Ainsley’s Angels, a running group that pushes disabled people during races.” She lives in Bell City, Louisiana with her husband, Jacob Hagen. Together, they are expecting their first child in March 2017.
Kendall Smashey ’06 has left a winning legacy on the Hilltop. He remains the university’s single-season career record-holder in singles victories. Starting off strong his freshman year, Kendall won the 2003 Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year honors. In the years since, his growth as a student, athlete, friend and teammate remain impressive examples of the Holy Cross tradition of whole-person development.
Kendall’s selection for the Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2017 is well-deserved. He says, “Thank you to the voting committee and everyone involved in this nomination process. I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this elite group.”
Highlights of Kendall’s four years on the court and in the classroom include:
He says the person who had the greatest impact on his Hilltop experience was Coach Russell Sterns. “He was our leader, advisor, cheerleader, disciplinarian, and friend. He is a competitor who loves to win and truly wants the best for his players, not only on the court, but in the classroom and as we move forward into our careers,” says Kendall. “Coach Sterns and I continue to be friends and I thank him, and Coach Pete Saunders, for the opportunity they gave me to play at St. Edward’s.”
Keeping in touch with Coach Sterns is one way that Kendall has continued his connection to the St. Edward’s family. He also attends Houston Chapter Alumni events, and speaks with Brother Gerald Muller, CSC, as well as keeping informed about today’s Men’s Tennis team. “St. Edward’s was a great school to be a part of then, and it continues to be now. St. Edward’s definitely helped me grow as a person.”
Kendall lives in Houston with his wife, Jordan, and their daughter, Noelle, who was born in April 2015. Their second daughter, Collins, arrives January 2017. “My favorite hobby is spending time with my wife and kids. My family comes first,” he says. Outside of his family time, he is also a dedicated professional.
He has been in the oil and gas business since 2006. “I sell pipe (OCTG products) to oil and gas companies. I started with a small family-owned pipe company and worked there for two years. After that, I worked for a larger pipe company for five years, and then started my own pipe company – KS Pipe and Supply – in March of 2013.”
Kendall is proud of his life’s journey so far, including his ongoing spiritual development. He and his wife lead a group Bible study and are active members of Grace Bible Church in Houston. He says, “I am most proud of being a Christian, husband and father. I am proud of my family, and I’m working hard to become a better and better person as I grow older. I hope that people will most remember that I love my family, I care for others, and that I am a selfless person.”
Dr. David Sprague ’95 hopes that people will remember him for his “weird sense of humor” – yet his personal and professional accomplishments are outstanding enough to become his true legacy.
An embryologist and andrologist for Scott and White in Temple, Texas, Dr. Sprague’s resume includes: studying the genetic basis for some forms of male infertility, attending the world-famous “Frontiers in Reproduction” intensive laboratory course (where he was shown how to clone by the researchers who cloned Dolly), participating on the Institutional Biosafety Committee for the Texas A&M University system, and serving as chair of the biotechnology department at Temple College.
He humorously notes that his career as a scientist started, “much to the chagrin of my father, who was an English professor at the University of Texas.”
Dr. Sprague forged his own path. “I have always been interested in how things work. It doesn’t matter if it’s biology, physics or chemistry,” he says. As a student at St. Edward’s, he enjoyed the science club and ham radio. He graduated magna cum laude.
His academic talents are complemented by personal skills – like explaining complex topics in simpler terms without losing accuracy – and a passion for helping others. Sprague’s motivation is to “empower people by helping them to recognize their own inner strength and talent, thereby giving them confidence in life,” he says.
He also pursues his own (very diverse) set of interests. He plays the electric guitar and enjoys racing motorcycles on road-course tracks. He has an advanced open water certificate for scuba diving. An accomplished equestrian, he’s competed in numerous championships at Texas Hunter and Jumper Association shows, and he instructed other equestrians as a teenager. He was a crew member on the Sir Winston Churchill in the British Merchant Marines, through which he learned sailing in the North Sea.
Dr. Sprague is the model recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award. Taken separately, any of Dr. Sprague’s experiences and talents would be enough to distinguish him from his peers. As a whole, his career and life’s pursuits are a wonderful reflection of the St. Edward’s University traditions of whole-person development and lifelong learning.
About St. Edward’s, he says, “I remember the respect the instructors at St. Edward’s had for each of the students’ welfare, and their care for teaching. Instructors went to great lengths to help explain a concept to students. I have carried this memory with me this whole time.”
In various ways, Dr. Sprague has maintained a close relationship with the Hilltop. He’s kept in touch with Dr. Jimmy Mills, Professor Emeritus of Biology, and Dr. Bill Quinn, Professor of Biology and Computer Science. He has also made a leadership gift to the university’s endowment for a professorship in Dr. Quinn’s honor, served as a speaker for the School of Natural Sciences, and supported the Admission Office’s recruitment efforts.
Dr. Sprague is married and lives in Belton, Texas. He and his wife, Dawn, have two children, William (18) and Maren (15). His grandfather, Francis McNamara ’25, attended St. Edward’s University for two years, and three other family members also spent time on the Hilltop.