Every year, Lenoir-Rhyne University recognizes its alumni who have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact in their profession and the community.
This year's group of honorees include LR alumni who have given back to the community of Hickory and to Lenoir-Rhyne University, as well as those who've distinguished themselves in the medical field and financial sector.
The first alumni awards were presented in 1960.
The university asks for nominations of deserving alumni from fellow Bears. These nominations are sent to the Alumni Association board of directors and a small committee meets to discuss each nominee. This committee then makes a recommendation for award winners.
Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the Alumni Association
Todd Charles Burwell earned his bachelor's degree in physics with a minor in mathematics from Lenoir-Rhyne in 1993. He then attended graduate school earning a master's degree in physics and a commission in the United States Air Force, where he served six years as a scientific and technical intelligence analyst and assistant professor at the United States Air Force Academy in the math department.
After working in intelligence analysis for Dynetics, Inc., he accepted a position with The Boeing Company as an applied statistician and earned a second master's degree in statistics from Texas A&M University. He is now the senior manager of applied mathematics in Boeing Research and Technology.
He has also served on the board of directors for the Schools Foundation, a charity that supports education, and taught as an adjunct professor at Athens State University and Calhoun Community College in Huntsville, Alabama. He is a mentor for aspiring professionals at Boeing and is a member of the LR board of visitors and former board member of the LR Alumni Association.
Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the Community
A 1998 graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne, Amy M. Ogle earned her bachelor's degree in communication and broadcasting, while being heavily involved in theater productions on campus.
She currently serves as the executive director of the Hickory Downtown Development Association, where she manages the Main Street program initiatives and oversees the administration, programs and strategic plans of the organization. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Utica College, where she earned her master's degree in cybersecurity and computer forensics in 2017.
Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the University
David B. Hensley '01 served as a recording engineer, a cappella choir tour manager and unofficial chaplain's assistant, as well as a student conductor of the LR Wind Ensemble in his time on campus.
After graduating, he served as director of music at First Baptist Church in Hildebran, where he oversaw the 35-member church choir and led the music for all services of the church. He then accepted a position as the chorus teacher at Freedom High School and has also served as the minister of music at Clinchfield Baptist Church.
In 2013, Hensley made a vestment — a robe worn by clergy during services — and has since made 12 more that are used by the Rev. Dr. Andrew Weisner '79 in worship services at Grace Chapel on campus.
Rising Star Young Alumnus Award
Zac O'Brien '09 was a man of many talents in his time at LR. A member of the Bears football team and Theta Chi fraternity, O'Brien was a scholar athlete graduating with a Bachelor of Science in finance and accounting, while earning a place on the dean's list.
He began his career in finance as a financial consultant at Thrivent Financial where he built investment portfolios before taking a position as managing director for Crown Wealth Group, where he is responsible for oversight and delivery of individual, family and business financial options. He was recognized as a Winston-Salem Under 40 Award recipient in 2014.
Clarence L. Pugh Distinguished Alumnus Award
A 1974 graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne, Steven R. Carter was student director of the College Bowl Program, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and active member of several intramural athletic teams at LR.
Upon graduation with a degree in biology, Carter attended medical school at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, earning his Doctor of Medicine in 1978. He completed his internship and residency at the University of North Carolina in the department of anesthesia.
In 32 years in medicine, he practiced anesthesia at First Health-Moore Regional Hospital and later as director of ambulatory surgery and chief anesthesiologist at the Eye Surgery Center of the Carolinas. He is an active member of Our Saviour Lutheran Church and a member of the board of trustees for Lenoir-Rhyne.