Distinguished Alumni Awards

Northwestern’s alumni office seeks nominations for future Distinguished Alumni Award candidates. Nominees should be graduates of the academy, junior college or college, or have attended the junior college for one year or the college for three semesters. Candidates must be at least five years beyond their graduation year and not currently an officer of the Alumni Association or a member of the award selection committee.

Three awards are presented during the college's annual Legacy Celebration Banquet:

  • Distinguished Professional Achievement: The alum chosen for this award demonstrates leadership, competence, dedication to continuing education and integrity in his/her chosen profession.
  • Distinguished Service to Humankind: The alum chosen for this award demonstrates leadership abilities in service to the community and/or society at large through notable Christian contributions.
  • Distinguished Service to Northwestern College: The alum chosen for this award demonstrates loyalty to the mission of Northwestern College, continued interest and support of the goals of NWC, and reflects honor on the college by his/her Christian lifestyle.

To nominate someone for a Distinguished Alumni Award who meets the above requirements, email the alumni office.

Kevin BrasserDistinguished Professional Achievement

Brasser graduated from Northwestern College in 1985 and taught English in Taiwan for a year before returning to NWC to earn his teaching certificate. He has been a science teacher at South O’Brien High School in Paullina since 1987; he also is a huddle coach for the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes and coaches junior high football, and high school girls and boys basketball and softball. Brasser has won a number of science teaching awards, including Outstanding Biology Teacher of Iowa in 2000 and a RadioShack Technology National Teacher Award in 2001. He also earned a NASA Educator Astronaut Teacher Fellowship. This past March, he traveled to the White House to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching from the National Science Foundation. He was the only science teacher from Iowa to win.

Harry TysenDistinguished Service to Humankind

Chaplain at Salina Regional Health Center since 1980, Tysen calls his 10-hour-a-day, constantly “on call” career joyful and fulfilling. “I’m doing ministry on the front line,” he says. “I always go home feeling fulfilled. There’s always the sense that I’m in the right place doing the right thing.” After graduating from Northwestern in 1970, Tysen earned a master of divinity degree from New Brunswick Seminary in 1974. He was pastor at a church in Woodstock, N.Y., for six years before becoming a hospital chaplain. His ability to listen to patients and their families, and his use of humor—which has included wearing a clown wig and nose—earned him Chaplain of the Year recognition in 1999 from the Kansas Association of Chaplains.

Lyle Vander WerffDistinguished Service to Northwestern College

Vander Werff graduated from Northwestern Junior College in 1954 and went on to earn degrees from Hope College (B.A., 1956), Western Seminary (M.Div., 1959), Princeton Seminary (Th.M., 1961) and Scotland’s University of Edinburgh (Ph.D., 1968). He also was given an honorary doctorate from Keiwa College of Japan in 1996. A former Reformed Church in America pastor and missionary to Kuwait, Vander Werff taught in Northwestern College’s religion department from 1967 to 1999. He called Northwestern students “salt of the earth” and “seekers of the truth” and his career a “tremendous privilege to get paid to do what I enjoyed.” In 1980, Vander Werff helped establish Northwestern’s first sister school relationship with Keiwa College, and five years later, students from Keiwa and elsewhere attended the first Summer Institute for International Students on Northwestern’s campus. In 1985, Vander Werff also was named the Northwestern College Teacher of the Year.
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