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Five Recognized For 'Distinguished' Lives

Sept. 1, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Five Sam Houston State University former students who have made notable contributions in their fields, communities and to SHSU itself will be honored as Distinguished Alumni on Friday (Oct. 15), as part of the university's 2010 homecoming festivities.

The honorees include Calvert Harrison, Brenda Love, Marcus Luttrell, George Miles, and John Garrett, the Distinguished Young Alumnus. The Distinguished Alumni Gala will take place at 6 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.

Tickets are $70 each. Table sponsorships are still available for $1,500 for platinum sponsorship and $1,000 for gold sponsorship. For more information about the event, contact the SHSU Office of Alumni Relations at 936.294.1841.

Calvert Harrison

Calvert HarrisonIt is his work both inside and outside of his dental office that 1989 SHSU graduate Calvert Harrison has distinguished himself.

The owner of Best Care Dental in Atlanta, Ga., for more than 10 years, Harrison uses both his sociology degree as well as his doctorate in dentistry, which he received from the University of Texas Medical School in 1994, to help those around him.

Throughout his career, Harrison has built four dental practices in the Atlanta metro area from startup to multimillion-dollar corporations. He is certified in straight-wire orthodontics, Invisalign and Lumineers.

Outside of his practice, he not only volunteers at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, providing dental care for underprivileged families but also provides counseling services at the Ella Mae Thomas House for recovering substance abusers, coaching them on healthy decision-making skills, according to his nomination form.

“His community service efforts are responsive to community and social needs, which are ever-changing and evolving,” one nomination letter said. “This responsive approach to the community’s needs clearly demonstrates Calvert’s dedication in supporting his fellow neighbors.”

“Calvert regularly donates his time, resources, and knowledge to those that need it the most, our youth,” another letter said. “The difference he has made in the lives of so many, he will probably never know; but what I can say is his community is fortunate to have him. Calvert would be an asset to any position, but the path he has chosen certainly suits him.”

In addition to his affiliation with a number of professional organizations, Harrison’s other volunteer endeavors include the Suzuki Learning Center, Hosea Williams Feed the Hungry, VA Hospital, YMCA and Boys and Girls Club.

“Calvert has been an individual that has faced many setbacks both personal and professional,” a third nomination letter said. “However, what separates Calvert from his peers is his ability to rebound quickly, graciously, and most importantly with determination.

“Calvert has always been an individual that could overcome challenges while learning from his mistakes. His persistence and diligence in accomplishing goals make him a success in every circumstance.”

He, wife Charlene and son Lake live in Atlanta.

Brenda Love

Brenda Love-JonesOwner of one of the top five advertising agencies in Houston, Brenda Love “epitomizes personal initiative combined with creative talent and a passion to serve her clients and support her community.”

Love earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1973 and her master’s degree in advertising, public relations and telecommunications from San Diego State University.

Since opening Love Advertising in 1979 “with $500 of start-up capital,” the agency has built a clientele that includes a number of Fortune 250 clients, such as CenterPoint Energy and Gallery Furniture, with annual billings in excess of $30 million.

“Brenda personifies the success that comes from personal initiative when combined with talent and a sweet spirit dedicated to service,” the form said. “I think it’s important to put into perspective her accomplishments when considering the difficulties and barriers faced as a female in the 1970s launching a business.

“Her educational grounding and experiences at Sam Houston, I am sure, played a key part in giving her the confidence and desire to achieve her goals.”

Love Advertising has won numerous awards for its service, including multiple Agency of the Year designations from the American Women in Radio and Television, Houston Business Journal’s “Top Houston Advertising Agencies” and “Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Houston,” and Working Woman Magazine’s “America’s Top 500 Women Owned Businesses.”

In addition to her activity with numerous Houston-area organizations, Love has provided pro bono work for organizations and campaigns such as Susan G. Komen of Houston, the Chuck Norris KICKSTART KIDS Foundation, Lighthouse for the Blind, Catholic Ministries, The Orange Show, Interfaith Ministries and Peace of Mind Foundation. She also has served as a conversation leader for SHSU’s annual “Let’s Talk” benefit for the Elliott T. Bowers Honors College.

“The real story of Brenda, which out shadows her tremendous business success, is her passion to give back to her community. Whatever cause Brenda is asked to support, she is always the first to arrive and the last to leave,” a nomination letter said. “Hardworking, industrious, creative, charitable, loving, and a true Texan who leads by example: these words describe Brenda Love.”

Love and her husband, Ed Jones, have three children: Lindsey Love, Reese Jones and James Jones.

Marcus Luttrell

Marcus Luttrell“A true American hero and patriot,” Marcus Luttrell is widely known for his actions as a Navy SEAL on the Afghanistan and Pakistan border.

His harrowing story as the lone survivor of what became the single largest loss of life in a day in the history of the Navy SEALs was chronicled in his New York Times best-selling book Lone Survivor, which is currently being made into a movie.

The Willis native attended SHSU between 1994-1998, majoring in business administration.

“Marcus left SHSU before graduating because of the desire to honor his country,” one nomination letter said. “He joined the Navy and went on to excel in the Naval Special Warfare Community, that is well known for being the toughest training in the military.”

“Marcus put his life on the line everyday for his country. Without individuals like Marcus this country would not be what it is nor would we have the freedoms we enjoy daily and take for granted,” his nomination form said. “Marcus once stated at ‘Let’s Talk’ that he never expected to come back from a mission. He made peace with God and was willing to die for his country.”

Since returning to from his mission with Operation Redwing in 2005, for which he was awarded the Navy Cross by President George W. Bush, Luttrell has dedicated himself to veterans’ causes, donating all profits from his book to help the families of his fallen comrades and military charities and establishing the Lone Survivor Foundation that will provide funds to various charities across the country, including the Wounded Warrior Foundation. He also has served as SHSU’s 14th President’s Speaker Series lecturer, discussing the mission upon which his book is based.

In addition to the Navy Cross, the Delta Tau Delta alumnus has been recognized with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and two Life-Saving Medals.

“Marcus has been through more than any of us can imagine,” his form said. “He literally could have made millions of dollars to benefit himself but chose to immortalize his team members who are his heroes.”

George Miles

George MilesA leader within his community as well as the university, George Miles has been “a great advocate of Sam Houston” who “has served diligently to do his part to enhance Huntsville and the university.”

The 1961 SHSU graduate, who also attended the Southwestern Graduate Banking School at Southern Methodist University, spent his career in the banking industry, retiring as executive vice president for First National Bank of Huntsville after 22 years before returning to serve as marketing coordinator on a part-time basis.

Miles’s work within the SHSU and Huntsville communities is vast, serving in leadership positions on committees and helping organize fundraisers for both, leading to his being selected as Huntsville’s “Citizen of the Year” in 2007 and as a recipient of the SHSU Alumni Association Service Award in 2008.

“George loves Sam Houston State University,” one nomination letter said. “He truly has demonstrated ‘Service Above Self’ for the university and many community organizations and causes. He represents the university proudly wherever he goes.”

In addition to serving as chairman of the board for the Huntsville-Walker County Chamber of Commerce, Miles also currently serves as chairman of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Advisory Board, as a member of SHSU’s President’s Circle, the Executive Leadership Council and the Mass Communication Advisory Board.

As president of the SHSU Alumni Association in 2006, he was directly involved in the origination of the Alumni Garden, the designation of the “Presidents Tree,” the completion of the Bell Tower, the restoration of the Old Main pipe organ and its installation in the Peabody Library and the initial establishment of the alumni clubs that have resulted in increased participation.

He also initiated the creation of an alumni committee to organize the movement to prevent any possible name change for the university. That committee's work continued in the following year with the wholehearted support of Miles's successor, Col. John McManners, and was ultimately successful.

“During a time of significant growth and change, George was exactly the right person to serve as alumni president,” another letter said. “He brought a firm hand to the leadership of the association, together with a proactive commitment to working closely and cooperatively with university advancement in support of Sam Houston State.

“The university and alumni owe a great debt of gratitude to all alumni leaders, and especially to George, for our outstanding alumni program.”

John Garrett, Distinguished Young Alumnus

John GarrettThe owner, founder and publisher of Community Impact Newspaper, John Garrett built a company from three employees to one with 65 employees in less than five years, generating $6.9 million in 2009, just four years after it was established.

A 1997 graduate, Garrett’s Community Impact Newspaper has become the most widely distributed newspaper in Central Texas, producing seven separate, free publications that serve Round Rock, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Leander, Northwest Austin, Central Austin, Lake Travis, Westlake, Georgetown, Hutto, Taylor and Southwest Austin.

In 2009, Garrett began a new publication in the Cypress-Fairbanks area of Houston, adding an additional circulation of 105,000 to his 450,000 Austin-area circulation.

“There are many community newspapers being printed today, and there are even several that depend solely on advertising revenue, just as Community Impact Newspaper does,” a nomination letter said. “However, I haven’t seen any with the standard for excellence, honesty and integrity that John has demanded from day one.

“The readers can’t stop talking about how much they love our paper—how useful it is and how much they are learning about their community by reading our paper,” the letter said.

The company has been recognized in multiple focus groups as the “first and only news source” where local residents get their news and is also the only 2009 National Newspaper Association award-winning newspaper in Central Texas, according to his nomination form.

In addition, Garrett’s leadership, for which he was recognized earlier this year when Concordia University Texas selected him to receive the 2010 “Excellence in Leadership” award, sets him apart from other employers. One letter noted how he pays employees well above industry standards and provides benefits “not typically offered by small businesses,” such as a 401k plan and good health and time off benefits.

“His leadership skills have made working for the company a privilege,” one letter said. “A recent meeting started when John recognized that the hectic pace seemed to have some team members stressed. He thanked us as a group, but wanted to take it a step further, so he decided to go around the room and tell each employee what he appreciates about them.”

“John is a remarkable talent with an innovative business that has changed the way a region of the state receives local news.”

Garrett, and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Round Rock. They have three children: Mollie, Ruby and Sophie.

 

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Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
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