By Runa Lemminn
The inductees for CSU Bakersfield’s Alumni Hall of Fame all had a similar response to making it onto this year’s list.
Jeremy Adams, Bryan Burrow, Edward Paine, and Debbie Wood said they felt extremely honored to be nominated.
The event announcing the inductees was held on Nov. 14.
Carla Barrientos, President of the CSUB Alumni Association, opened the event.
In her remarks, she said the Alumni Hall of Fame was created 12 years ago, to recognize and celebrate CSUB’s most distinguished alumni.
The Board of Directors and President Dr. Horace Mitchell came together to create the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Barrientos said each year, university staff, alumni, faculty, and other community members nominate the individuals they feel are deserving of the award.
“These four inductees are a great example for nearly 15,000 alumni, not just locally, or nationwide, but worldwide,” said Barrientos.
To be nominated, individuals must fulfill certain criteria, which include earning a degree or honorary degree from CSUB prior to five years before the year selected, a track record of success, an emphasis and care for higher education, and community involvement with CSUB. A history of positive contributions to the community is also on the list.
Following the opening speech by Barrientos, CSU Board Trustee John Nilon introduced Mitchell.
Mitchell said he tells each graduating class at commencement that he looks forward to seeing some of them as nominees in the future.
“At commencement, one of the things that I say to our students is that we look forward to the cumulative and collective contributions they will make through their professional achievements, civic engagement, and leadership in our global and diverse society,” said Mitchell.
Even CSUB students who haven’t graduated see the value in the Alumni Hall of Fame.
Samuel Mata, a business major, said the award was a positive thing.
“Anybody who can make not only the campus, but the community a better place should be recognized,” said Mata.
Jessica Moreno, a master’s student in Spanish, said it was good CSUB acknowledges the graduates who have stayed in Bakersfield and are serving the community.
“I think it’s really cool, said Moreno. “It’s one thing to get a higher education, get your degree, and then leave, and let another city or somewhere else reap the benefits of whatever it is that you got from your institution.”
This year’s inductees each have an impressive list of achievements and contributions to the state and local community.
Some of Adams’ many achievements include earning a teaching credential from CSUB in 1999. He is a teacher at Bakersfield High School, and an adjunct professor at CSUB.
Adams said he didn’t imagine he would ever actually win a nomination.
“This award gives me a sense of real humility,” said Adams. “It’s not just that you win it, it’s that you want to be worthy of winning it. I feel like I need to keep working to be worthy of it.”
Burrow, who earned an MBA from CSUB in 2000, is the CEO of Sierra School Equipment Co., and includes having served as President and CEO of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra on a long list of positions held in the community.
“I shouldn’t be here,” said Burrow. “It’s an honor to be a part of this group.”
Burrow said it’s about investing in people and the investments people have made in him over the years.
“It’s about the collective investment that people have made in my life, and so it’s my way of kind of giving back,” said Burrow.
Paine, who earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1980, has been successful in real estate and insurance, and has been involved in many charitable causes locally. One of his accomplishments is saving the Mercy Child Development Center from closure.
“Like most people in my position I feel that I am not overly deserving of the accolade,” said Paine. “You don’t have to do anything spectacular. You can just be steady in your commitment and good things can happen.”
Wood earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing in 1982, and an MA in Education in 2000. She is the school health coordinator for Bakersfield city school district, and has taught in CSUB’s nursing program for nearly 20 years.
Among other accomplishments, Wood established health centers to treat many of Bakersfield City School District’s 30,000 students, a large percentage of whom are uninsured or underinsured.
“It’s really an honor, and really a surprise,” said Wood. “You just focus on the work, and you don’t really realize what you’re doing, you just keep working. Without Cal State, I would never have been able to do what I’ve done.”
Mitchell said the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Sept. 16, at the Bakersfield Country Club.
“Proceeds from that event will support and benefit the alumni scholarship fund,” said Mitchell.