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SAHS Distinguished Alumni

Our Distinguished Alumni Award is our way of recognizing truly outstanding alumni for their academic, professional, and/or community achievements.

Some Examples of a Deserving Candidate Might Include:

• Accomplishments and honors earned while in high school.
• Job related exemplary achievement and/or noteworthy record.
• Personal accomplishments and honors earned post high school graduation.
• Work in and impact on community (local, state, and/or national level).
• Demonstrated leadership and positive role modeling.

Nominate a Distinguished Alumni Today

2023 Distinguished Alumni Recipients

Jay Snyder, Class of 1960, Jennifer Gunn, Class of 1994, Elizabeth DeShong, Class of 1998, and
Nathan Troup, Class of 1998 were honored as the 2023 Distinguished Alumni recipients.

Jay Muller, Class of 1982, Brandon Barnhart, Class of 1990, Nick Park, Class of 2005, Jonah Roth, Class of 2017, Hannah Doll, Class of 2019, and Jillian Haddon, Class of 2021, were the Alumni Performers.

Jay Snyder

Jay Snyder – Class of 1960

The most senior of our 2023 recipients is Jay Snyder. After graduation from Selinsgrove, Jay graduated from Susquehanna University and later joined the United States Army reaching the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

Post-army, Jay’s spent his career working in the Pennsylvania State government for 25 years, but during all of his time working, tennis officiating was his avocation. Upon his retirement in 1990, tennis became his vocation when he became the US Director of Tennis Officials in New York. Three years later, Jay was appointed Director of the US Open Tennis Championship for nine (9) years. The Open Championship is held each fall in Flushing Meadows, New York. In addition to his duties as director, he was involved in the construction of Arthur Ashe Stadium, which hosts the US Open and is the largest tennis arena in the world.

Upon retirement from his involvement in tennis, he became a consultant for a company specializing in evaluating the operations of NFL stadiums, which includes the upcoming Super Bowl LVIII to be held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Jay’s civic and community accomplishments include serving on the Board of Directors of the International Youth Advocate Program, PA Prostate Cancer Coalition, Vietnam Veterans Round Table, Indiantown Gap National Cemetery Council, Chapter 542 Vietnam Veterans of America as well as involvement in many church and local organizations.

Jennifer Gunn

Jennifer Gunn – Class of 1994

Our next 2023 recipient is Jennifer (Hackett) Gunn. Upon graduation from Selinsgrove, Jennifer attended Duquesne University in Pittsburg where she achieved a Bachelor of Music degree from the Mary Pappert School of Music as well as additional studies at the University of Akron. She is equally trained and at home playing both the piccolo and flute. Jennifer’s professional musical career included musical positions as Assistant Principal Flute of the Louisville Orchestra, Principal Flute of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and Second Flute of the Wheeling Symphony.

Recognized for her “virtuosic poise” as well as “a dazzling piccolo virtuoso”, Jennifer was appointed to the position of Piccolo of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra by Maestro Daniel Barenboim in 2005 where she replaced a person who was tenured for 43 years. She made her flute solo debut under the direction of Ludovic Morlot on the orchestra’s Music Now series and a year later she made her piccolo debut under the direction of Harry Bicket on RV443 Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s subscription series. Jennifer has enjoyed many opportunities to join colleagues in a variety of performance settings in Chicago, Topeka Kansas, Marion Massachusetts, Scottsdale Arizona, and Saint Barthelemy French West Indies.

She is also in demand as a clinician, a frequent guest at universities around the country, serves as an orchestral coach with various civic orchestras, and has taught piccolo and flute master classes around the world. Jennifer credits her parents who nurtured her musical talent as well as how supportive the arts programs were in schools. She states “I’m probably a product of my public school system” and encourages kids to follow their own dreams with “your willingness and eagerness to make things happen”. Jennifer credits her parents who nurtured her musical talent as well as how supportive the music teachers in the arts programs were in our public schools.

Elizabeth Deshong

Elizabeth DeShong – Class of 1998

After graduation, Elizabeth earned her Bachelor’s of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and her Master’s of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

From there, she joined the young artist program at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center (2005-2008). Immediately following her time in Chicago, she began her professional career by touring England as Hänsel in Humperdinck’s “Hänsel und Gretel” with Glyndebourne on Tour and made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2008 in Puccini’s “La Rondine.”

Since then, Elizabeth has developed a reputation as “one of the most intelligent stage performers of her generation (Opera News).” Lauded equally for her musicianship and commanding stage presence, she has established herself as a regular on concert and operatic stages worldwide. Those stages include The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, The Royal Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bayerische Staatsoper, Atlanta Opera, Washington National Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, and Los Angeles Opera, just to name a few. She has also performed with many symphonic orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Rara, The English Concert, Minnesota Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, as well as many others.

DeShong’s most recent international appearance as Fidès in Meyerbeer’s “Le Prophête” at the Aix-en-Provence Festival earned her high acclaim. Fidès being one of the most difficult roles in the operatic repertoire, one critic was quoted as saying, she was able to “surpass the unattainable.” Recent recordings include Mercadante’s “Il proscritto” with Opera Rara and Max Raimi’s “Three Lisel Mueller Settings” with Riccardo Muti and the CSO.

Elizabeth is quick to credit her music teachers, both in voice and piano. She also credits the Selinsgrove instrumental and vocal music programs for giving her opportunities to perform and develop her craft.

Nathan Troup

Nathan Troup – Class of 1998

With much credit due to the teachers who fostered his creativity at an early age, following high school graduation Nathan attended Susquehanna University and Boston University, earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in voice and opera performance.

As a young emerging talent, Nathan’s performance credits garnered critical accolades in a wide range of repertoire from opera to early music to musical theater. While establishing a performing career in Boston and beyond, Nathan embarked on several influential artistic collaborations that would ultimately redirect his artistic focus from performing to directing and designing.

A partnership with Boston’s renowned Emmanuel Music introduced him to the innovative work of stage director Peter Sellars, choreographer Mark Morris, and film maker Errol Morris, further broadening his professional artistic lens. He returned to Boston University’s Opera Institute in 2007 where he was mentored by program director Sharon Daniels, launching what would become an international career as a celebrated stage director and highly sought-after clinician and educator in the performing arts.

His staged works have earned national and international critical acclaim, several Best of Boston accolades, and a 2020 Regional Emmy Award for Best Arts & Entertainment feature for Iowa PBS.

Notable engagements include those with Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood Festival, Carnegie Hall, Boston Lyric Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Wolf Trap Opera, Castleton Festival, NYC’s Miller Theater at Columbia University, Jessica Lang Dance at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival and Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as curated projects with Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, and TEDxCambridge.

Nathan is an Associate Professor of Opera at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee in addition to serving on the faculties of Boston University’s Opera Institute and Des Moines Metro Opera’s Apprentice Artist training program. He’s on the board of directors of Guerilla Opera, and spent a decade as an outreach artist with Sarasa Chamber Music Ensemble’s award-winning Outreach Program (“Outstanding Merit and Contribution” by Early Music America), creating access to collaborative musical experiences to neglected and incarcerated youth.

2022 Distinguished Alumni Recipients

We are thrilled to announce Marvin L. Brubaker, Class of 1957, John Gallagher, Class of 1986, and Mike Bennett, Class of 2007 as our 2022 recipients.

Marvin L. Brubaker

Marvin L. Brubaker (1957) graduated from Susquehanna University in 1961, earning degrees in both physics and mathematics. His career led him to teaching positions at Middleburg High School, his alma mater Susquehanna, Moravian where he earned a PhD, and finally Messiah College. His forte while teaching was mathematics and technology. He is well known for teaching technology workshops for faculty as well as many community volunteer activities.

John Gallagher

John Gallagher (1986) is the art director of the National Wildlife Foundation’s “Ranger Rick” magazine, cofounder of “Kids Love Comics” (an organization that uses graphic novels to promote literacy), and leads workshops teaching kids how to create their own comics.” He is also well known for his children’s books “Max Meow”.

Mike Bennett

Mike Bennett (2007) has been entertaining families with colorful and immersive art creations for the past few years with the goal of giving people a reason to get out, to see art, to smile, and to experience something special. He is known for bringing cartoons into the real world with reclaimed wood and old house paint. He created the A to Zoo Family Museum, a series of fun and educational installations combining art and education. He is an award-winning cartoonist and was voted Portland’s “Best Visual Artist for 2022”.

2021 Distinguished Alumni Recipients

We are thrilled to announce Craig Sholley, Class of 1969, Kendra Aucker, Class of 1979, and Richard Mease, Class of 1974 as our 2021 recipients.

Craig Sholley

Craig Sholley is an internationally acclaimed conservationist and educator who is widely known for his work conserving the world's endangered Mountain Gorilla population. Craig received a BS in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master's in Educational Supervision from Loyola. His relationship with Africa began in 1973 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire preparing secondary students for their University Exams. Later in the 70’s, he spent several years teaching in Baltimore prior to joining the research team of Dian Fossey where he conducted behavioral research and helped to craft cutting edge conservation strategies. Returning to the Baltimore City School System in 1979, he coordinated a special science program instructing teachers “how to teach science”. This led to his appointment as the Baltimore’s Zoological Society’s first Curator of Education. From that point forward, Craig’s life has been dedicated to the conservation of Africa's iconic wildlife; in particular, Mountain Gorillas working to bring the earth’s most endangered great ape back from the brink of extinction. This work involved directing Rwanda's Mountain Gorilla Project, orchestrating central Africa’s 1989 Mountain Gorilla census, providing expertise in the design and construction of two award-winning community owned tourism lodges, and the recent expansion of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park creating more space for a growing gorilla population. Craig has served as director of Conservation and Education for International Expeditions leading natural history expeditions throughout the world for groups from many acclaimed institutions. Craig also led a team from National Geographic to central Africa to access the conservation consequences of Rwanda’s genocide. He currently is the Senior Vice-President for African Wildlife Foundation which is Africa’s oldest and leading wildlife conservation NGO working to conserve Africa’s iconic wildlife throughout the continent. When not traveling, Craig resides in Highland, Maryland.

Kendra Aucker

Kendra Aucker is most widely known as the President and CEO of Evangelical Community Hospital located in Lewisburg, PA. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from The Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Business Administration from Frederick Taylor University. Kendra is a licensed Agent through the Insurance Department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with qualifications in Accident & Health, and Life and Fixed Annuities. She was appointed to her current position in 2015 following a career at Evangelical Community Hospital starting in 1990. Kendra had been an integral part of Evangelical Community Hospital’s senior leadership team serving in roles of marketing, physician practice management, operations, executive leadership, and has helped shape the strategic growth that sets Evangelical apart from other community hospitals. Her career path outside of her work at Evangelical includes serving as the Community Relations Director at SUN Home Health Services and the Manager of Northern Region Sales for Capital Blue Cross. Kendra serves on the Board of Directors of CHART (A Reciprocal Risk Retention Group), WITF, Inc., Transitions of PA, First Community Foundation Partnership, and the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission. She is a member of the Lewisburg Rotary Club in addition to having served with the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce, Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, the Selinsgrove Rotary Club, and Leadership Susquehanna Valley. She has received the following local recognition: the Athena Leadership Award, the Adam Smith Distinguished Leadership Award from Economics Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna Council of Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, the Leadership Susquehanna Valley Distinguished Alumni Award, the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way Volunteer of the Year Award, and the Selinsgrove Rotary Club Distinguished Service Award.

Richard Mease

Richard Mease has been recognized for his service contributions to the local community of Selinsgrove. Rich had a great sports career in high school, excelling in football, wrestling, and baseball. His proficiency in baseball led to a brief professional career in the minor leagues. Rich resided in other parts of the country before returning to his home town to make a living and pursue his passion for community service. He has served as Selinsgrove Pool Board President since 2014 and has overseen the 50th Anniversary Celebration, organized fund-raising events such as 5k, and currently directing over $500,000 fund raising campaigns for pool renovations and installation of pool splash pad. Richard has served on Selinsgrove Borough Council since 2012 where he assisted in the hiring of borough managers and negotiated police contracts. Another community organization Richard has involved himself with in Selinsgrove is SPI (Selinsgrove Project, Inc.). As a part of SPI, he has contributed to the Market Street Festival, Halloween Parade, events at The Commons, Main Street Improvements, Brewfest Committee, and their historic committee. Richard currently resides in his family home in Selinsgrove with his wife, Carol Norwood.

Previous Winners

Cynthia A. Fisher & Cathy Keiser
Classes of 1977 and 1979
Vivian "Gemberling" Beaver, Richard W. Smoker & Dennis Wolfe
Classes of 1961, 1970 & 1962
David Bowersox & Jim Campbell
Classes of 1980 & 1955
Dr. Melissa Vayada
Class of 1991
Dr. Rose Ann Neff
Class of 1969
Charlie & Elaine Benner
Class of 1958