Each year, Clarke University recognizes alumni for personal, professional, and humanitarian achievements by bestowing the Distinguished Alumni Awards.
Outstanding Achievement Award
Margaret “Peggy” (Opper) Gulick ’90 chose to attend Clarke for its reputation and the accelerated program in Computer Science, even though she had never taken a computer class in her life. Upon graduation from Clarke, Gulick moved to Chicago, transitioned to IBM in Rochester, MN, and then Pure Fishing in Spirit Lake, IA, to follow her passion for new technology and disruptive solutions. She is now the director of business process improvement at AGCO Corporation.
Humanitarian Service Award
Beth Otting ’86 (posthumous) was hugely influenced by the BVMs in her life and in her decision to serve others. The strong call of God in their lives spilled over into her mission to do the same. She graduated from Clarke with a degree in Music Education in 1986 and spent the next three years teaching music at Catholic schools in Iowa near her hometown of Waukon. Her longing to do service work in Africa became so strong that she spent the next seven and a half years working as a project director for Habitat for Humanity in both Ghana and Uganda, providing houses and other services for those in need.
Otting then returned to the United States where she received her MBA and worked in several different positions, including a Faith Formation DRE, Grief Counselor and Hospital Chaplain.
In the spring of 2015, Otting was accepted as a lay missionary. She left the U.S. on Jan. 4, 2016, and flew to Monrovia, Liberia, where she was to receive further training until May. She and her partner would then move on to Sasstown, Liberia, where they would set up a Catholic Mission.
On Friday, Jan. 29, while taking a recreational break from training, Otting, her partner and three others went to a cove for a swim. One of the members of the group did not know how to swim and ventured out too far. Otting immediately swam to save him and was able to reach him on his last breath. In his desperation for life, he clung too hard to her and pulled her underwater. Thankfully, he did survive. Otting, however, did not. Her death, like her life, was in service to others. Otting’s sister, Kathy (Otting) Wenthold ’92 will be accepting this award in her honor.
Rising Star Award
Claudnyse Jenkins ’05 believes that her education from Clarke University provided her with a holistic view of life. It prepared her for her career, but also taught her to value humanity. In everything she does, she thinks about justice and charity foremost.
After graduating from Clarke, where she majored in Political Science and English, Jenkins went to the Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing. After law school, Jenkins worked for boutique law firms before opening her own practice. She has served hundreds of low-income clients to ensure they had access to quality legal services. She is now the executive director of the Weiss Children’s Advocacy Center in Flint, MI, where she provides legal services to children who are sexually or physically abused.