MNU news

Fall 2015: Alumni News



Jeremi (Heiney, ’88, MEd '05) Wonch was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (Kansas), by the National Science Foundation.



Catherine (Brunet, ’89) Brandt was appointed assistant principal at Northeast Elementary School in Montgomery County, Tennessee.



Rev. Jonathan Foster (’91) has written and published a book inspired by the loss of his daughter Quincy Foster (FS, ’16). “This artistic story is born out of sorrow and joy, pain and love.  It offers a simple but extraordinary answer to the question, ‘Where Was God on the Worst Day of My Life,’” Foster says.

A portion of the proceeds from each book will go to a project in Haiti through Heart to Heart International. The project is related to MNU’s Passion to Serve Project in Haiti. See the book at



John D. Thexton (’92) earned a PhD at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in August 2014. His degree is in Pastoral Theology and Counseling and his dissertation is titled “Neighbor-love from a margin: a pastoral theological construction employing class analysis.” 



Gregory Hager (’94) has recorded seven albums since 2009. He performs at more than 100 concerts each year, drawing impressive crowds to churches, rodeos and Christmas events. His latest album, “In the Valley Below,” was named CD of the Year by the Rural Roots Music Commission. He’s also a four-time nominee for the Academy of Western Artists’ Western Artist of the Year award.



Michael Downs (’95) accepted the assignment of lead pastor at Cross Pointe Church of the Nazarene in Salisbury, Maryland.



Monica Smith ('00) graduated from the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association's Bar Leadership Academy and was selected as an “Up & Coming Lawyer” for Missouri Lawyers Weekly. She attended the National Association for Drug Court Professionals conference in Washington, where she met with U.S. Senator for Missouri, Roy Blunt, to discuss Kansas City’s specialty courts. Monica currently serves on the Police Athletic League Junior Board.



Luke Johnson (’03) earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in wind conducting at the University of Kansas in May 2015. He is currently assistant professor of music and director of bands and music education at MNU.



Martin Kelsey (’04) was hired to host a middle school science show called “STEM in 30” at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.



So Choi (’07) was awarded the 2015-2016 Kansas Art Education Association Outstanding Overall Educator of the Year. An art instructor at Leawood Middle School, So works closely with her colleagues and members of the community to implement integrated learning across subject areas. An example of these opportunities include entering students in the Scholastic Art Awards as well as local events such as the Johnson County Library Bookmark Contest. She has been a professional development presenter in her district and at the Kansas Art Education Association Conferences. 



Sarah (Rowland, ’09, MSN ’10) Miller graduated with an EdD in interdisciplinary leadership from Creighton University in May 2015. Her dissertation research, “Nurses’ Faith and Its Impact on the Provision of the Spiritual Component of Holistic Care” has been accepted for poster presentations at Nurse Educators at The Rockies Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado, in July and Sigma Theta Tau International’s 32rd Biennial Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, in November of this year.



Mike Snider ('10) serves as fire chief in Liberty, Missouri, and was recently elected vice president at the Missouri Valley Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs conference. In addition, he will serve as president in 2017.



Julian Vaughn’s (’10) 2015 single “Ride Along” reached #1 on the Jazz Billboard charts. Julian is a smooth jazz musician from Kansas City, Missouri, who performs in concerts worldwide.



Liza Zumbrunnen (’11) was hired as high school band director at Heritage Christian Academy in Olathe, Kansas.



Andra Kee ('13) was awarded the Stewardship Sermon Scholarship by Stewardship Ministries of the Church of the Nazarene. Funds for this scholarship are awarded annually to up to five pastoral ministry students enrolled in either a religion or Christian education program at a USA or Canada Nazarene institution of higher education. Andra attends Nazarene Theological Seminary.



Megan McGee (’12), is director of donor cultivation for Great Plains SPCA, one of the largest no-kill animal shelters in the Kansas City area. As a student in MNU’s bachelor’s-degree completion program, McGee conducted research on ways to raise money for animal welfare as one of her course projects.  After graduation she decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter. What she calls a random visit to the Pet Adoption Center of Great Plains SPCA turned into a job in 2013. 

Emily (Lefler, ’06) Hawkins is a social marketing manager for Great Plains SPCA. Managing the highly engaged audiences on the organization’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, blog and Snapchat platforms, Hawkins’ creativity has helped the Great Plains SPCA Facebook page grow from 1,500 to 50,000 fans. 

“Behind every pet is a person, so when we are helping a pet in need, we are also directly helping that person or family who may otherwise not have had a place to turn,” Hawkins says.

 - Read the Newsroom article about our Great Plains SPCA alumnae.



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Alumni Directory to be Published

MNU alumni can expect to be contacted soon by PCI of Dallas, Texas, to update their contact information for inclusion in a new alumni directory which will publish in October 2016. MNU has partnered with PCI, publisher of directories for many colleges and universities such as Texas A&M, Georgetown and Rutgers, to verify alumni data and obtain information such as field of occupation. 

According to Kevin Garber, director of alumni relations, alumni can be certain that their contact information will not be sold to any third parties. Additionally, alumni can purchase the directory for $100 through PCI. 

“We hope this new directory will be very useful to our alumni and help them keep in touch or reconnect with friends and classmates,” Garber said.

2016 Calendar

Help MNU’s graphic design program with your purchase of a 2016 desk calendar featuring the art of 10 MNU alumni. All proceeds go to the graphic design program. Available online at

Refer a Student

Know someone who would be a great future Pioneer? We’d love to know! Visit Thank you for helping us to grow our community of future students!


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