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2017 Beacon Awards

The Carthage Beacon Award honors each recipient for one specific accomplishment, act of service, professional or personal achievement, event, or program. The College is proud to recognize these alumni, whose actions illuminate those around them.

Wayne Cramer ’82

Majors: Business Administration, Economics
Hometown: Ingleside, Illinois

Wayne Cramer founded Andean Aid, a nonprofit that fights poverty and helps at-risk children in mountain regions of Venezuela and Colombia. In January 2017, the organization opened its 10th Help and Hope Center.

Wayne Cramer was a 2017 Beacon Award recipient.

In collaboration with local churches, Andean Aid promotes long-term spiritual and economic development by establishing Help and Hope centers that serve more than 600 children. The organization operates a Christian school enrolling 190; supports enrichment programs for low-income families, including a youth soccer team and a dance troupe; and provides food and medicine during the economic crisis in Venezuela.

Along with his wife, Susan, Mr. Cramer began the journey of service to the South American region after his retirement from a 30-year career in the nuclear industry. He also chaired the Policy Council at Head Start and served on the Board of Community Action Partnership in Lake County, Illinois.

The Cramers have three daughters.

Richard E. Custin ’80, M.Ed. ’96

Majors: Business Administration, Public Management
Hometown: Escondido, California

In recognition of his expertise in mediation, Richard E. Custin was appointed as an affiliate professor in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego for 2016-17.

Richard E. Custin was a 2017 Beacon Award recipient.Teaching business law and ethics at the University of San Diego, Prof. Custin exercises a practical approach based on his experience as an owner and manager of a law office, a mediator, and a litigation attorney.

After earning his bachelor’s (magna cum laude) and master’s degrees from Carthage, Prof. Custin earned law degrees at Drake University and the University of San Diego (cum laude). He previously was appointed judge pro tempore in Los Angeles and holds active bar memberships in California and Illinois.

Prof. Custin serves on the board of the InterNational Academy of Dispute Resolution. Since 2010, he has shared expertise through published articles on mediation, debt cancellation, Social Security, medical malpractice, and blogging.

A former Carthage faculty member, Prof. Custin was an associate professor of business administration from 1990 to 2001 and department chair from 1992 to 2001. At San Diego, he has received awards for innovative teaching and faculty service.

This year, he became part of the faculty at the Joan B. Kroc School. The prestigious program teaches students to become active participants in the change-making process.

Pat Hamilton ’78

Major: English
Hometown: Silverthorne, Colorado

Pat (Thoennes) Hamilton won a 2015 Midwest Book Award for her biography, “Hidden Treasure: The Life and Art of Theodore Czebotar”.

Pat Hamilton was a 2017 Beacon Award recipient.A native of Racine, Wisconsin, Mrs. Hamilton graduated summa cum laude from Carthage. She was grateful that her status as a working, commuting transfer student proved no hindrance in the community of academic excellence.

For more than 20 years, Mrs. Hamilton enjoyed a career in public relations for SC Johnson, where she focused on internal communications, speech writing, special event planning, and serving as an agent of change. In 1989, the company recognized her for leadership in community relations with the H.F. Johnson Community Service Award.

Mrs. Hamilton’s late husband, Larry, taught psychology at Carthage for 36 years and received the College’s first Distinguished Teaching Award. After his death in 1997, Mrs. Hamilton retired to the mountains of Colorado, where she and her husband, Bill Freund, enjoy the beauty, wildlife and recreational opportunities found just outside their door.

In the solitude of her mountain community, she also finds the space necessary to pursue a writing career. Her award-winning biography delved into the life and work of an uncle, the late Theodore Czebotar, an accomplished 20th century artist.

Mrs. Hamilton is working on a novel — one set in a small Midwest college community that hugs the shore of Lake Michigan. Mrs. Hamilton credits the bright and inquisitive people of Carthage for helping her to find her own path.

Tom Lentz ’63

Major: Biology
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida

Carthage honors Trustee Emeritus Tom Lentz with the Distinguished Alumni Lifetime Service Award.

Tom Lentz was a 2017 Beacon Award recipient.Mr. Lentz joined the Carthage Board of Trustees in 2002 and served four terms, earning emeritus status in May 2016. He contributed to several board committees and chaired the ad hoc committee that developed the College’s mission statement. His legacy of giving includes an endowed scholarship that encourages ethical business management.

As an undergraduate student at Carthage and, later, Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, Mr. Lentz participated in debate and choir. He was president of the Blue Key Honor Society chapter and vice president/academic chairman of his fraternity. Mr. Lentz went on to earn a master’s degree in ethics and philosophy from Yale University.

He became a Lutheran pastor, serving eight different churches in Ohio, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Miami. Mr. Lentz co-founded a publishing company that provided resources for churches and clergy, and another company that hosted tours of Europe and the Holy Land. Hired as president by a British electronics company, he worked to establish its U.S. division in Rockford, Illinois, and, after a merger, became chairman of Global Display Solutions in 2003.

His outside service activities have included a mission to Haiti, along with leadership and volunteer roles with various organizations in Lima, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. He and his wife, Martha, continue to volunteer in environmental efforts by planting sea oats on Gulf Bay shores and performing maintenance and cleanup at Fort DeSoto State Park.

Ann O’Leary ’14

Majors: Biology and Neuroscience
Hometown: Evansville, Wisconsin

In May 2016, Ann O’Leary won the right to serve as Alice in Dairyland, Wisconsin’s agricultural ambassador.

Ann O'Leary was a 2017 Beacon Award recipient.Miss O’Leary graduated with All-College Honors and a degree in biology and neuroscience. She received the Distinguished Senior Award in 2014.

She was the lead student ambassador, president of the biology fraternity Beta Beta Beta, and an active member of Alpha Chi Omega. Serving her first term on the Alumni Council, she enjoys staying involved in the Carthage community.

After graduation, Miss O’Leary joined the corporate recruiting team at Epic, a healthcare software company. There, she focused on campus recruitment and college relations.

Inspired by her years of showing Jerseys and Holsteins at the county, district, and state levels, Miss O’Leary applied to become the 69th Alice in Dairyland. Miss O’Leary was selected and started her one-year contract position with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection in June 2016.

By the end of her year as Alice, she will have traveled 40,000 miles across the state to promote all aspects of Wisconsin’s $88.3 billion agricultural industry via television and radio interviews, public appearances, and fourth-grade classroom visits.

Afterward, Miss O’Leary hopes to pursue a career in public relations or communication. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, golf, water skiing, and spending time with family.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2019), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has been named a top producer of Fulbright Fellows three years running: 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …