Office of University Advancement
Director of Alumni
Call: (817) 202-6755
Save the Date for Homecoming 2023
Alumni Homecoming will be April 13 - 16, 2023. We look forward to seeing you on campus for this special celebration!
Register for the banquet below!
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Thursday, April 13, 2023
1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Registration
6:30 p.m. Homecoming Banquet: Family Knight
Friday, April 14, 2023
8:00 a.m. 25th Annual Homecoming Golf Classic
9:00 - 4:00 p.m. Dinosaur Science Museum. (Open)
10:00 - 3:00 p.m. Registration & Open House (Hopps Museum & Welcome Center)
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Campus Tours
4:00 - 10:00 p.m. Thomsen Observatory (Open)
6:30 p.m. Registration (KSDAC)
7:30 p.m. Homecoming Vespers: Featuring SWAU Music Dept. + Alumni Choir
Sabbath, April 15, 2023
8:00 a.m. Registration (KSDAC)
8:30 a.m. Daybreak Service (Speaker: Armando Miranda, Jr. '03)
10:00 a.m. Chapel Sabbath School (Speaker: Elder Billy Wright '70)
10:00 a.m. Elevate Service (Speaker: Will Iverson '08)
11:30 a.m. Summit Service (Speaker: Armando Miranda, Jr. '03)
1:30 p.m. Alumni Community Potluck
2:30 p.m. Honor Class Photos
3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Nursing Department Celebration honoring Shirley Pinterich/Laurice Durrant
3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Dinosaur Science Museum (Open)
3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Hopps Museum Open House
4:00 - 10:00 p.m. Thomsen Observatory Open House
6:30 p.m. Houghton Family Concert
8:00 p.m. Honor Class Parties
8:00 p.m. AlumKnight Tailgate
8:00 p.m. Knights Unite Volleyball Classic (Alumni vs. Students)
9:00 p.m. Knights Unite Basketball Classic (Alumni vs. Students)
Sunday, April 16, 2023
9:00 a.m. Disc Golf Tournament
10:00 a.m. Knights Unite Soccer Classic – Women (Alumni vs. Students)
12:00 p.m. Knights Unite Soccer Classic – Men (Alumni vs. Students)
Wayne Powell (BBA ’93)
Wayne Powell was raised by his grandparents in small-town Jefferson, Texas. After graduating from Jefferson Academy, Wayne came to Southwestern Adventist College looking for a Christ-centered community. Reflecting on his student experience, he says, “At Southwestern, I developed the foundation of faith that I depend on to this day. I met many incredible, like-minded people who have become life-long friends and business partners. They have propelled my career and developed the community where I have raised my children.”
Wayne felt the call to serve seniors at a very young age, so he came to Southwestern to study long-term healthcare administration. “Engaging in both ministry through service and business at Southwestern was the best of both worlds,” he believes. “Some of my favorite courses were religion classes with Dr. Kilgore and Dr. Willis. In my professional experience, I believe these classes were as important as my business classes.”
In 2012, Wayne co-founded Civitas out of a desire to create a senior living company that he would want to work for as an employee—one that would be a leader in developing people to serve our senior citizens in high-quality, beautiful communities with heartfelt care. In just a few years, he helped grow Civitas from a single-property ownership group to one of the top 50 largest senior living providers in the nation.
Aside from his career accomplishments, one of the things Wayne is most proud of is “being a Southwestern family,” as he calls it. “All my children have also attended Southwestern. As I am transitioning into the golden age of being a grandfather, I can see how my children’s experience at Southwestern has molded their characters and developed them to be the bright and successful young professionals they are today. With two grandbabies, and hopefully more on the way, I look forward to the time when my family once again will be able to walk the halls of Southwestern and have the same experience I had all those years ago.”
Wayne is CEO of Civitas Senior Living, where he provides leadership, strategic guidance, and management direction to all aspects of the operations, with an emphasis on growing sales, improving profitability, minimizing risk, and diversifying markets while maintaining quality, safety, employee satisfaction, and high social responsibility.
Kisha Norris (BS ’03 & MEd ’08)
Kisha R. Norris inherited a passion for Christian education. Raised in a single-parent home, her mother determined it was worth the sacrifice to give Kisha a Seventh-day Adventist education. Kisha holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a secondary education and music minor as well as a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, all from Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU). In 2022, Kisha completed her doctoral degree in education from Capella University. She recalls her years at Southwestern as some of the most memorable times of her life— participating in student association and dorm events, meeting new people, making memories on trips, and worship services. She treasures the people she met at Southwestern who shaped her life for the better.
Since 2019, Kisha has served as the vice president for education and superintendent of schools for the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Alvarado, Texas. Prior to her appointment, she spent a number of years in leadership in Seventh-day Adventist higher educational institutions, including Southwestern Adventist University, Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, and Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, working in the philanthropy departments as a director of development, senior director of development, assistant vice president, and an executive director of advancement. She has returned to education, her passion, which she pursued after completing her undergraduate degree. She is a former high school chemistry and Spanish teacher.
Kisha says, “Not only can I credit Southwestern for the beginnings of my training in the two professions I have chosen, but Southwestern developed my passion for giving back in any way I
can to assist students who may need a little extra financial help. In 2004, I established an endowment at SWAU in my mother's name, the Peggy Norris Memorial Scholarship, to benefit education and or music education majors in the pursuit of their education.
“My time at Southwestern was a special time in my life. I met amazing people who mentored me and introduced me to my future careers, one in non-profit fundraising and management and one in education. I gained amazing friends and was able to nurture my love for music by singing in recruitment groups, choirs, and ensembles. Southwestern will always have a special place in my heart because it brought people and experiences into my life that have continued to shape my love for God.”
Rowdy Lofton (BS ’13
I spent the first 11 years of my life in Keene, Texas, not too far away from Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU). In 2001, my parents went to Minnesota for a summer job that was only supposed to be temporary, but we ended up staying for seven years. I graduated from Maplewood Academy, and then I moved back to Texas. After taking a year off between high school and college, I started my freshman year at SWAU when I was 19, in 2009.
After graduating from SWAU, my job offerings fell through, and I ended up waiting tables at Cracker Barrel for a year. During this time, I did a lot of soul-searching and thinking about what I wanted to do. The next year, I decided to join the military and serve in the Army National Guard for eight years. Since joining the National Guard, I have had a wide array of experiences that have helped me in my career. For the past six years, I have been working at Boeing, the airplane manufacturer, as a cyber security analyst. This goes to show that it does not always matter what your actual degree is, communication in my case, but what you do with the knowledge you learn, how you apply it, and the research concepts you develop. Once you achieve academic discipline, you can become whatever you want to be.
There are a lot of temptations that come with joining the military, and if it had not been for the religious instruction I received and the faith-building I did at SWAU, ample opportunities could have led me to stray from the work of God. However, I believe I am on God’s path for me. I have given up trying to determine and force my own destiny, wants, and desires out of this world; I have fully given myself to God. He directs my path, and I just hope I can serve Him in the best ways possible along my journey.
Elizabeth Page (BS ’88)
I graduated from Southwestern Adventist College on May 1, 1988, with my bachelor’s degree in social work. While growing up, I always wanted to do something to help people. Little did I know that my life would change a few days after graduation forever.
I started working as a social worker during my senior year of college at Johnson County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center. On May 11, 1988, 10 days after graduation, I was at work when a client of another social worker, outside with a gun, started shooting. He chased us back into the building, and he shot me a number of times in my chest and back. Doctors did not think I would survive, but God saved my life that day.
An injury to my spinal cord left me paralyzed. I spent four-and-a-half months in the hospital learning how to adjust to life in a wheelchair. During that time, my faith grew even stronger because my faith and my relationship with God had grown while I was a student at Southwestern. I felt at peace, and I knew that peace came from God. It gave me strength for all my new challenges.
The night before the shooting, I completed the master’s degree application for the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) School of Social Work. I am determined to continue moving forward with my career. I started my master’s degree in social work in January 1989 and graduated in May 1991.
I have worked as a social worker at various hospitals, but my passion has always been to work with children. I have enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to work half-time at Cook Children’s Medical Center as a social worker for more than 21 years. This past year I also started working with Southwestern Adventist University as the Title IX Coordinator.
In 1999, my family and I started a non-profit agency called Disabled Crime Victims Assistance, Inc. (DCVA). My Mom, Wanda Page, and my brother, John Page, also graduates of Southwestern, founded DCVA because we recognized that other crime victims face long-term disabilities, and there are no resources specifically for them. I volunteer at DCVA a number of times a week. We have had the opportunity to help crime victims and their families that now deal with paralysis, traumatic brain injury, loss of a limb, and many other types of injuries. We have helped them find resources related to their disability, and we have helped them as they navigated through the criminal justice system. We walk this road with them, letting them know we understand what they are going through since we have been down the same road.
Reflecting on my experience at Southwestern, the best part was the life-long friendships I made as a student there. These friendships are forever, and the connection is so much more significant because of the time we shared and our shared goal of wanting a relationship with God.
Elder Billy Earl Wright (BA ’70)
Billy Earl Wright was the fourth African American student to integrate at formerly Southwestern Union College in the fall of 1967. It was his first experience attending an Adventist Christian institution. At that time, the days were difficult and sometimes painful for African American students on campus and in the Keene community at large. He recalls the burning of crosses on campus near Hamilton Hall, even the setting off of bombs almost nightly on the dormitory’s third floor where he resided in his own room, since college policy stated that an African American or Native American could not have a white roommate, but an African American and a Native American could room together. One night he narrowly missed being injured by one of those bombs, unbeknown to his mother, whom, he says, “would have ordered me to come home immediately!”
One student Elder Wright feels stood out among all others was Larry Moore, now a pastor. “He made the black students feel welcome, he always had a kind word to share with us, and he was not afraid to converse with the African American students in public,” Billy remembers. “Larry has a genuine Christian disposition about him. He demonstrated Christian qualities in loving all mankind in those days and even to the present—what a representation of Christ. Other students that made us feel welcome were Muriel Wines, Ed Wines, and Benjie Leach,” he recalls.
Elder Wright was the first African American student to graduate from Southwestern Union College in 1970. Years later, from May 2000 to May 2011, he served on the Southwestern Adventist University Board of Trustees.
Looking back on his time at Southwestern, he shares the life lessons he learned: how to cope with prejudice through prayer, how to lean and rely on God in all his circumstances, and how to love the unlovable. “God’s agape love conquers all at Southwestern Adventist University,” he says.
He married the former Aletha M. Jenkins, and they welcomed three daughters, Candace Wright, Tammi Wright, and Chaya Woolcock. Candace passed to her rest in February 2022, and the family eagerly looks forward to greeting her again on Resurrection Morning.
Elder Wright has spent his entire career working for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He has pastored several churches, served as director of youth ministries, and worked in Pathfinders, family life ministries, and health and temperance ministries. He has held the positions of executive secretary, communications director, and stewardship director. He has also served as the president of the Southwest Region Conference, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Currently he ministers at the Cleburne Emmanuel English Church in Cleburne, Texas, and the Mt. Lebanon Church in Waco, Texas.
Michael Wiist (BS ’76)
Michael was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. He was the only son of William V. and Arlene Wiist. Michael had two sisters, Linda Knutson, and Debbie Speyer. Michael spent his early childhood years in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.
The family moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1964M where Michael attended the local church school until 8th grade. He went to attended Ozark Academy in Arkansas. During his junior year at Ozark, the family moved to Keene, Texas. After graduating, he joined his family in 1972.
Michael attended Southwestern Adventist College (SAC) and earned a double degree in communication and religion. He spent six weeks after graduation in Europe during the summer of 1976 and developed a deep love for traveling.
When he returned, he moved to Maryland and worked at the General Conference Communication department while pursuing a master’s degree in Radio Broadcast at Maryland University. After finishing his degree, Michael moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, as the manager of Union College's Radio station until the Spring of 1982.
World Radio had called Michael to go to South America to manage their office, but due to some logistical difficulties, Michael was asked instead to move to Darmstadt, Germany, in 1982 to manage of Adventist World Radio Europe. During his three years there, he traveled to Portugal and Italy and was the project manager for the establishment of the new radio station in Gaeta, Italy.
In June of 1985, Michael moved to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where he managed WAUS and taught in the communication department. In December of 1985, Michael and Veronique Hermans met at the radio station office through a mutual friend. They were married on December 14, 1986.
The family moved to Keene in the Summer of '94, and Michael started teaching at SAC in the communication department. After 3 years, Michael made the move to Law. A high score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) earned him acceptance at Baylor School of Law in Waco, Texas, on a half scholarship. His swearing-in ceremony took place in Fort Worth at the Tarrant County Probate Court, where he often appeared for the next 20 years while practicing estate planning and probate law with the Sawyer, McCully, and Bakutis, LLC law firm. He was the only state-certified probate lawyer in Johnson County.
Michael volunteered at the Keene SDA Church on the Finance Committee and spent his last eight years chairing it. He also served on the Chisolm Trail Academy and Keene Adventist Elementary School boards. He enjoyed being involved in prison ministry and monthly ministered at The William R. Boyd Unit State Prison in Teague, Texas. He loved sharing God with the prisoners, and the faith of these incarcerated men humbled Michael.
Michael loved God, his family, his friends, and his work. He practiced law until September 7th of, 2022, when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia. He passed away in Fort Worth on October 20, 2022, with his wife, Veronique, and daughters, Catherine Wiist Jessel and Alexandra Wiist, at his side.
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