Spring Gala Recognizes Top Alumni of the Year
The Butte College Foundation Spring Gala will honor outstanding alumni during an elegant evening of food and entertainment on Saturday, March 17 at the CSU, Chico Bell Memorial Union, 400 West First Street, beginning at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the annual fundraising event are $100 each and include dinner, a silent and live auction, and dancing. The black-tie optional event, hosted by the Butte College Foundation, is a benefit for academic programs, student scholarships and athletics.
“This year we will recognize three outstanding alumni who have truly set the bar for excellence in community service and their professional areas of expertise,” said Dr. Kimberly Perry, Butte College president. “It’s exciting to note our many alumni are touching lives not only in our community, but also statewide, nationally and even internationally.”
The three Butte College outstanding alumni selected this year include Melinda Kennemer of Chico, Zachary Smith of Roseville, and Dr. Joseph Wujek of Walla Walla, Washington.
Alumna Melinda Kennemer earned an interior design degree from Butte College in 2001 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in the same field at CSU, Chico in 2004. She is currently completing a master’s degree in Human Science from Stephen F. Austin State University. Kennemer is the owner of MK Designs, a successful healthcare facilities design firm in Chico. She and her husband, Frank Kennemer, also own and operate the Outback Steakhouse in Chico. Together the couple has assisted with more than 175 local fundraisers benefiting, among others, the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Chico Community Scholarship Foundation, the Paradise and Butte County Fire Departments, and the Butte College Foundation. The Kennemer’s efforts are credited with having raised in excess of $500,000 for local charities.
Alumnus Zachary Smith received an associate of science degree in EMT-Paramedic from Butte College in 2003 after earning a bachelor’s degree in kinesiotherapy from CSU, Long Beach in 2002. Smith’s professional experience includes search and rescue, vertical technical rescue and ocean lifeguarding with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Currently, Smith serves as firefighter/paramedic for the City of Rocklin. Smith has provided humanitarian aid for disaster victims and has made a dramatic impact on many lives. He has coordinated deployment teams for domestic natural disasters including the tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, as well as Hurricane Irene. He has traveled on medical aid missions to Haiti, Chile, Burma and South Sudan. He recently co-founded an organization named Mission to Heal which sends health care practitioners and medical students to the poorest parts of the globe to treat patients and train local health care workers. Smith recently returned from his second trip to South Sudan where his team performed surgeries and treated hundreds of patients. Smith also worked closely with Enloe Foundation’s Project Save in Chico to donate medical equipment and supplies which were delivered in a container to South Sudan. Smith is a recipient of both the Carnegie Medal of Valor and the California State Firefighter Association Medal of Valor for his efforts to save a man from a burning vehicle in Los Angeles County.
After completing his general studies education at Butte College in 1979, alumnus Dr. Joseph J. Wujek, later earned his medical degree with honors from Vanderbilt University. With a successful basketball career at Butte College, Dr. Wujek was later named a “small college All-American” basketball player. Dr. Wujek is an owner-partner of the Walla Walla Clinic, a 38 member multispecialty group. The clinic includes a Women’s Health Department providing obstetric, gynecological and infertility services to women. Dr. Wujek specializes in high-risk pregnancies and has been dubbed “Dr. Wonderful” by many of his patients who note that his care extends beyond the ordinary doctor-patient services. Dr. Wujek has served as a board member for Hospice, Christian Aid Homeless Shelter, Walla Walla Clinic and St. Mary’s Medical Center. He also served as a volunteer physician in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. He and his wife Donna met while attending Butte College. They have been married for 30 years and have five children.
In addition to recognizing three alumni who have distinguished themselves in their particular field of study, life’s work or community, a special Meritorious Service Award will be presented to Dr. Allan Forbes, retired Butte College Board of Trustee member and past president for 21 years.
Dr. Allan Forbes began serving on the Butte College Board of Trustees in 1990. During his tenure, he served in many capacities, including Board president, vice president, and clerk, until his resignation in 2011. A triple degree graduate of Stanford University, Dr. Forbes began a long and illustrious teaching career at Chico State from 1948 until his retirement in 1987. Dr. Forbes served the community as a member of Chico Rotary, Chico Community Concert Association, Children’s Home Society, Chico Chamber of Commerce, and Butte County Planning Commission. He was honored in Who’s Who in American Education, American Men of Science and served as a director of American Scholars.
“The Butte College Foundation is pleased to host the Spring Gala which is a fundraiser for academic programs, student scholarships and athletics along with offering a fun night to honor outstanding alumni and present a Meritorious Service Award,” said Diane Norrbom, Vice President at Rabobank and chair of the Foundation Spring Gala Committee. “This event promises to be a fun evening.”
For ticket information, call (530) 895-2359 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.