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Broward College Foundation Names Hall of Distinction Honorees

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The Broward College Foundation recently announced its Hall of Distinction honorees, eight Broward College alumni selected from 80 applicants, who were chosen for contributions to their professions, service to the college, or service to the community.  They include:

Bob Birdsong, CEO of OK Generators, Alumni Service Award.  Birdsong, a veteran of the United States Navy and a Deerfield Beach resident, has spearheaded several local fundraising campaigns resulting in millions raised for important nonprofit organizations.  A member of the boards of directors of many nonprofit organizations, including the Broward College Foundation, Birdsong will receive the prestigious Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award from the Broward Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals later this year.  His college experience began when he completed advanced placement courses at Broward College while attending Nova High School.  He then received B.S. degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Electrical Technologies from the U.S. Naval Academy and New York University, respectively.

Attorney Christopher M. “Chris” Neilson, Service to the Community Award.  Neilson, a Hollywood resident, has extensive volunteer experience with local civic organizations, including 13 years as an active member of the Broward County Bar Association. Neilson began his career as a police officer after earning his A.S. in Criminal Justice from Broward College.  He went on to earn a B.S. in Behavioral Science from the New York Institute of Technology, a Master’s in Human Resources Management from St. Thomas University and a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University.

Cynthia Thuma, senior analyst/public relations, Broward College, Service to the Community Award.  Thuma, a Boca Raton resident, has coached 50 seasons of youth sports ranging from soccer to hoops – including 17 seasons of coaching youth with disabilities.  She currently mentors youth as part of Fort Lauderdale’s “Show Up, Step Up, Stand Up” intergenerational youth leadership program.  Thuma earned an A.A. degree from Broward College, a B.S. Ed. from Florida State University, a M.A.L.S from Nova Southeastern University, and she is currently pursuing a Certificate in Lay Ministry from University of Dayton/Archdiocese of Miami.

Paola Mariselli, product designer for Facebook, Emerging Leader Award.  After graduating from Broward College with an A.A. in Management Information Systems, Mariselli went on to receive a B.S. from New York University and a M.S. from Harvard University.  At Harvard, she was selected as one of eight students to be a Commencement Marshall at her graduation this past May.  Mariselli, a Pompano Beach resident who has served as a product manager at Credit Suisse and interned at Groupon, has found time to mentor students, tutor Spanish and math at the Boys & Girls Clubs and serve as a team leader at Ronald McDonald House.

William Becker, head coach/elite referee, Fencer’s Club of Arizona, Alumni Merit Award.  Becker’s career started at Broward College, where he was first introduced to the sport of fencing.  After receiving an A.A. in Physical Education, he earned a B.S. in P.E. from Florida International University and a M.A. in P.E. from University of South Florida.  He has since coached multiple gold and bronze medalists in world championships across the globe.  Becker, a resident of Gilbert, Arizona, recently was named as one of the Top 8 Elite World Referees in fencing, which opens the door for him to coach at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Dr. Carl W. Carruthers, Jr., chief scientist at NanoRacks, LLC, Alumni Merit Award.  In his position as chief scientist, Carruthers works with NASA scientists and engineers as a science payload developer for the International Space Station.  The road to NASA began at Broward College, where he earned an A.A. Degree, followed by a B.S. in Chemistry/Biochemistry from FAU, a M.S. in Biochemistry from Texas A&M and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston.  Carruthers, a resident of Friendswood, Texas, has volunteered for the past five years with the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 12, which is dedicated to the promotion of general aviation, flying and homebuilding in the Greater Houston Area.

David R. Maymon, founder, Red Tree Health, Alumni Merit Award.  Maymon, a Fort Lauderdale resident, began his college career at Broward College, received an A.A from Illinois’ College of DuPage, a B.A. from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from the DePaul College of Law.  He now has come full circle having recently been appointed to the Broward College District Board of Trustees, the college’s governing board.  In addition holding this volunteer post at Broward College, Maymon has served many civic and nonprofit organizations, including the Broward County Sheriff’s Advisory Council, HANDY and the Spinal Muscular Atrophy Association.

Jennifer Troppello Hamilton, science teacher/athletic director, Stranahan High School, Alumni Merit Award. Tropello Hamilton didn’t consider college an option until a Broward College coach approached her after a Stranahan High School softball game.  She ultimately received a full softball scholarship to play for the school. She went on to earn her A.S. from Broward College followed by a B.A. from Florida Atlantic University.  As a professional educator, Tropello Hamilton is deeply involved in the educational field and has been recognized for her efforts.  She was named a Broward Education Foundation Hall of Fame Distinguished Alumni,  a FAU College of Education Alumni Honoree, Teacher of the Year at Stranahan High School twice, and a Miami Dolphins Teacher of the Week. Tropello Hamilton is a Fort Lauderdale resident.

The Distinguished Alumni inductees will be honored along with the 2015 recipients of the Broward College Endowed Teaching Chair awards during the Broward College Hall of Distinction: Recognizing Excellence within and beyond the Classroom breakfast at 8:30 a.m. on September 25 at the Renaissance Hotel, 1230 South Pine Island Road in Plantation.  Tickets are $45 per person and tables are available.  For tickets or more information, visit www.bc-hod.com, e-mail events@broward.edu or call 954-201-7373.

The Broward College Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the officially designated means of making private, charitable contributions to Broward College.  Its purpose is to change lives through education by providing community awareness, advocacy and funding to the college.    Members of the foundation’s volunteer board of directors work closely with the college’s Office of Advancement to raise money to support scholarships, academic programs and learning facility enhancements.  They believe anyone who is determined to change his or her life through the pursuit of higher education should be afforded that opportunity.  For more about the Broward College Foundation, please call 954-201-7414.

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