Four extraordinary individuals were honored recently at the Edgewood College 2018 Alumni Awards Ceremony, held on campus in November.
Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Thelma Duggin ‘71 and Dr. Odell Nickelberry, MBA ‘94. The Distinguished Alumni Award acknowledges the accomplishments of an alumnus who has achieved excellence in his or her professional career and has demonstrated a commitment to ethical leadership, service, and the search for truth.
After nearly 20 years as a corporate executive, Duggin shifted her focus to young people, currently serving as president of the AnBryce Foundation, which provides long-term academic and leadership enrichment programs to underserved youth. Earlier in her career, she served in a number of senior policy positions in the federal government, including as special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, and as special assistant to Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole.
Dr. Nickelberry is currently the director of human resources for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Together with his brother, he has established The Myrtis Nickelberry Memorial Scholarship, which supports a student in financial need at Edgewood College who is from a single family home, from outside of Wisconsin, and gives preference to underrepresented students. This scholarship honors his mother and celebrates her “unwavering faith, unshakeable confidence, and unquestionable style.”
Judith Fleming ‘67 and Beth Battista ‘04 were also awarded Dominican Mission Awards recognizing alumnus who have shown a commitment to social justice or a history of extraordinary volunteer service in the community, country, or the world.
Fleming currently serves with the Peace Corps in Kutaisi, Republic of Georgia. Just prior to that, she served more than two years in Uganda. This is actually her second assignment with the Peace Corps. After graduating from Edgewood College in 1967, she was among the first members of the Peace Corps to go to Tonga and Western Samoa where she spent more than two years.
In the intervening 50 years, she’s served as an executive in both the corporate and non-profit worlds, rising to Vice President of Corporate and Human Resources for a Fortune 500 company. She’s also spent 22 years as an adjunct faculty member of Assumption College where she served adult learners teaching courses in conflict management, human resources management, and others.
Battista is a native of Madison. She has taught preschool for 15 years, and is currently with the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School district. In 2016, she learned that a five-year-old girl, a student at her preschool, was battling a life-donor to literally save her life. Beth Battista – her teacher – answered that call.
In February of 2017, after explaining to her own children what she was planning to do, Battista donated her own healthy kidney to little Lyla, her student. She has shared her story of incredible generosity not to draw attention to herself, but to the ever-present need and opportunity that is presented to each of us to share the gift of life by becoming an organ donor.