Alumni Award Winners 2019
| by Carol Best firstname.lastname@example.org
YOUNG ALUM OF THE YEAR:
HEATHER (ENGLE ’16) SMITH
Heather Smith is passionate about anything involving design. A major in graphic design made sense for this creative soul. Heather’s first internship was in the MNU marketing office, where she learned about layout and organizing documents in visually pleasing, professional ways. This led to becoming a graphic design intern at Burns & McDonnell Engineering in Overland Park, Kansas.
“This was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to gain real world experience while getting my feet wet in the corporate world of design and marketing,” she says.
Earning her degree and the knowledge she gained during her MNU experience propelled her to land a job in the Kansas City Crossroads at Barkley, a major advertising agency. She also gained experience as a visual designer at Garmin.
“The knowledge I gained at MNU from the amazing professors there and the passion I have for design helped me to be the best I can be in the field that God has called me,” Heather says.
Heather enjoys using her hand lettering, illustration and design skills, whether for work, volunteer, or personal requests. She and her husband Joe, have a dog named Toby and are expecting their first child in April 2020.
CARRY THE TORCH:
JACK HANSEN (’92, MBA ’99)
Jack Hansen (’92) is a financial advisor, regional leader, and limited partner with Edward Jones Investments in Olathe. In addition to serving clients, he leads nearly 70 branch teams in northeast Kansas.
While they were students at MNU, Jack met his wife, April (Loomis ’96). They have two daughters: Abby (’19) nursing, and Ally, a high school senior.
At age 21, Jack was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that causes progressive vision loss. After absorbing the shock of learning he was going blind, Jack was determined to discover God’s calling for his life. God had equipped Jack with a desire to serve others, and he needed a professional opportunity where he wouldn’t be limited by others’ perceptions of what he could achieve as a blind person. Jack found both when he joined Edward Jones in 2002.
Knowing that his vision was deteriorating quickly, Jack worked hard to build his business from scratch and establish himself in the community. He has been president of the Olathe Public Library board, participated in Olathe Civic Academy, taught Sunday school and directed the Stephen Ministry program at his church. He also leads a student investment club at MNU, passing on his expertise and knowledge to a new generation of business students.
Jack enjoys family time and indulging his passion for golf. He is part of American Blind Golf, a national non-profit golfing organization promoting the game for blind and visually impaired persons.
ALUMNA OF THE YEAR:
DEBBIE (BUXIE ’01) JASICZEK
Debbie Jasiczek is associate director of engineering at Garmin International, where she leads the Core Platform Technology Group. In this role, she sets the vision for the team, leads internal global communication efforts, and builds the organization that serves all five of Garmin’s product segments. Her group is diverse and includes engineers, project managers, and wireless technology leaders that develop, maintain, and advance shared technologies across multiple business segments.
Debbie has held a variety of positions at Garmin, starting as a software engineer in 2001. She worked on algorithms used in Garmin’s Aviation, Automotive OEM, Fitness, and Outdoor products.
The progression of her career took her from engineer to engineering team leader, team manager and associate director. Debbie earned an MS in mathematics from Emporia State University in May 2014.
Debbie served as vice president of the MNU Alumni Council for three years, and on the President Honors Council for the past two years. She has also served as a mentor and an adjunct instructor at MNU.
Debbie has been a Bible Quizzing Coach for 21 seasons. She loves to travel and experience different cultures. She has been to 30 countries on four continents.
Debbie is the daughter of an early faculty member, the late Kathy Buxie.
“Every day, I try to live up to the legacy that my mom set,” Debbie says. “She was my first hero, and I love it when people see her through me.”
ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR:
DR. ROD SMITH (’92)
Dr. Rod Smith is principal at Frontier Trail Middle School, serving 800 students in grades 6-8, located in Olathe, Kansas. Rod is starting his 27th year in education and his 10th year as principal at Frontier Trail.
His career began in the Shawnee Mission School District, teaching fifth grade at Highlands Elementary. He was named principal at McEowen Elementary in Harrisonville, Missouri, then returned to the Shawnee Mission School District as principal for 16 years before taking his current position.
Rod has a Master of Science degree from Emporia State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Baker University.
He is the recipient of the 2018 Kansas Association of Secondary Schools (KASSP) Principal of the Year Award, the Shawnee Mission School District Teacher of the Year award, and the Elementary Principal of the Year award in 2005 and 2007. While principal at Mill Creek Elementary, the school received the National Blue-Ribbon Award in 2003 and the “Kansas Standard of Excellence Award” nine years in a row.
Rod served five years on the school board for Kansas Christian College and now serves on MNU’s School of Education Advisory Board.
He and his wife, Brenda, a sixth grade ELA teacher in the Olathe School District, have a college-aged son, Benton.