Recipients of the 2015 Alumni Awards were honored during an Oct. 10 luncheon as part of Homecoming. The IWU Alumni Association presented the Distinguished Alumna Award to Stephanie Whyte ’91; the Loyalty Award to Jim Mullins ’03 and the Robert M. Montgomery Outstanding Young Alumnus Award to Korey Coon ’00.
A board-certified pediatrician, Whyte recalled her last-minute decision to attend IWU. “I believe that our steps are divinely orchestrated and that you are in the place where you’re supposed to be, for the reason that you’re supposed to be there. I know that I was supposed to be here. And I know I am where I am now because of my experiences here at Illinois Wesleyan.”
Whyte served as the Chicago Public School District’s first chief health officer. During her tenure, Chicago became the first large urban school district to put undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors into each school for emergency use, saving 70 lives. Before that, she served as medical director for Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation, where she devoted more than a decade to caring for children with asthma in underserved Chicago neighborhoods.
Whyte recently was named medical director for Aetna Better Health of Illinois, and is an assistant clinical professor at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. A published author, lecturer and media spokesperson, she has served on local, regional and national advisory boards.
Loyalty Award winner Mullins completed his ninth year as race director for the annual Homecoming Captain Ryan A. Beaupre ’95 Memorial Scholarship 5K Run/Walk. He’s also served on the IWU Executive Alumni Committee, as a committee member and discussion group leader for the IWU Summer Reading Program, as a guest lecturer and as IWU McLean County Alumni Association president. He leads the “Give It Forward Titans” giving circle, which raises scholarship money by spreading awareness at events like a recent dueling piano fundraiser.
“I’ve stayed close to the university that’s close to my heart,” he said. “I’ve essentially just raised my hand and said, ‘How can I help?’ Beside me along the way have always been the same people. We’ve become friends and continue to do things together … These folks made volunteering at Wesleyan easy.”
A senior investment analyst at State Farm, Mullins stays connected to his local community through serving at his children’s school and coaching sports teams.
Said Young Alumnus award winner Coon,. “I learned so much from IWU about balancing the priorities of life. I had to do that as a student, and you have to do that as an employee, as a spouse, as a parent.”
Coon credits his success to life lessons he learned as a Titan basketball champion. “I remember learning a lot about relationships, how to win, building teamwork and collaborating with others, which are so important in today’s world, and Coach Dennie Bridges was absolutely front and center in helping me learn those things.”
Coon is the human resources director for Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division, based in Cary, N.C. His innovative leadership has led the company to add parental leave, flexible work arrangements, and apprenticeship program partnerships with high schools and technical colleges. Coon was named chair of the North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development, the group responsible for policy recommendations and strategies to enable the state’s workforce and businesses to compete in a global economy. He’s also deeply involved in community service, serving on several state-wide boards and working closely with nonprofits like the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA and Habitat for Humanity.