Who receives the Distinguished Alumni Award?
Our distinguished alumni are individuals who model Starr Commonwealth's Core Values and embrace the principle of the Oneness of Humankind. Recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award provide inspiration for current Starr students and serve as ambassadors for the organization.
What is the Criteria for Nomination?
Nominees for the award must have been a student in a Starr Commonwealth residential, community-based or home-based program. They must also meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Success in Life: Must have successfully applied the knowledge gained in his or her experience with Starr Commonwealth by advancing his or her chosen field, contributing to the well being of others, or providing professional mentoring.
- Community Involvement: Must have contributed to his or her community or civic organizations by becoming involved in public affairs, participating in service clubs or promoting human relations and cultural understanding.
- Giving Back to Starr: A distinguished alumni must have contributed to Starr Commonwealth by supporting its instructional program, serving as an active leader or assisting in its private fundraising campaign.
Mr. Michael Amundsen
Award Year: 1999
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1968
While at Starr Commonwealth, Mike Amundsen had the opportunity to attend Albion High School and even was accepted at the prestigious Interlochen Fine Arts camp. Today, he is not only a talented musician, but a successful business and family man. He often participates in Founder’s Day and other Starr gatherings with the musical score he wrote to accompany the Starr Creed.
Dr. Wiley Brownlee
Award Year: 1999
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1942-1944
Dr. Brownlee went on to earn a degree in education from the University of Michigan and a master’s and doctorate from Michigan State University. He taught students at military bases around the world for the Department of Defense before returning to Michigan to work with the Department of Education. He was a key administrator in the Ann Arbor and Willow Run schools. Mr. Brownlee had a lifelong love of skydiving. He passed away in 2004.
Dr. James E. Pelt
Award Year: 2000
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1955-1957
Jim Pelt is not only the president of the Starr Commonwealth Alumni Association; he also serves on the Starr Commonwealth Board of Trustees. He is the founder of Diversified Vocational Services.
Mr. Gerald D. Robinson
Award Year: 2000
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1931-1936
Jerry Robinson was an active member of the Starr Commonwealth Alumni Association. In his career he established the largest heating and air conditioning sales and service business in Lansing, and in his personal life was a tireless community volunteer through 4-H and church involvement. Jerry passed away in 2009.
Dr. John Seita
Award Year: 2001
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1967-1974
John Seita is the author of “In Whose Best Interest?” an autobiographical work about his experiences wit foster homes, group homes, orphanages and detention facilities before coming to Starr Commonwealth. He is also the author of “God is in the Kitchen and Other Everyday Miracles” in addition to his newest book “Kids Who Outwit Adults”. Dr. Seita earned the Starr Commonwealth Board of Trustees Child Advocacy Award in 1996.
Mrs. Nicole Collins
Award Year: 2003
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1990 - ?
Nicole Collins is not only a wife and mother, but also a foster parent at the Hannah Neil Center the very program that she was in. Nicole decided to become a foster parent so she could share her experiences with foster children. Moreover, she chose to become a foster parent because of the positive experiences she had at the Hannah Neil Center and the encouragement that she received.
Dr. Robert Failing
Award Year: 2006
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1943-1946
During his residency at Starr Commonwealth, Robert was the campus editor of Starr News, class president, driver for Uncle Floyd as well as a multi-sport athlete. Dr. Failing retired as Medical Examiner for the Department of Pathology of Santa Barbara California. He is also well known as a mountain climber and started his climbing quests when he was 50 years old. He has climbed six of the highest peaks in the world except for Mount Everest.
Mr. Stanley Allen
Award Year: 2008
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1970-1974
Stanley E. Allen, originally from Detroit, came to the Albion campus of Starr Commonwealth in 1970. While at Starr he attended Albion High School and was a star athlete participating in football and track. Stan still holds the school shot put record set in 1974 at the Michigan State Track meet. After graduation from Albion High School in 1974, Stan attended Albion College and ultimately joined the United States Navy. While in the Navy he boxed and played football and was stationed in Alaska, the Philippines and Japan. After leaving the Navy, Stan settled in California where he spent several years as district manager for Wal-Mart and Payless Shoe Stores. He is currently a Technical Project Manager and Business Systems Consultant with Wells Fargo and Company where he manages Information Technology Projects. Stan is a Licensed Massage Therapist and the founder and owner of Transition Bodyworks. He is a Reiki Master, the Japanese art of healing, and holds certifications in Zero Balancing and other related healing arts. He attends Union Baptist Church and is a member of the trustee board. Stan has spent numerous hours volunteering with various youth programs and coaching Pop Warner football. Stan is the father of a daughter Valorie, 17, who resides in California, and a stepdaughter Brandi Iryshe, Atlanta, Georgia and has a host of honorary grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He and his wife Patricia currently reside in Clive, Iowa.
Mr. George Wilson
Award Year: 2011
Years at Starr Commonwealth: 1961
Mr. George Wilson has been employed for the past 30 years as a licensed multi-line independent insurance agent representing 50 different carriers and is a former award-winning broadcast journalist in both radio and television. His previous employment was with school administration and contract compliance at state and federal levels. He is also a contract commercial voice artist for local, national and international media companies.
Mr. Wilson is active in church and civic events with emphasis on the National Day of Prayer, serving as the regional coordinator and the co-chairman for the local event. He volunteers as a consultant to men's ministry in mentoring and disciple programs and is a motivational speaker on the subject of time management and core values.
George has been married to his wife, Carol, for 25 years and they have a blended family with three children and five grandchildren.
As a proud Starr alumnus, Mr. Wilson is President of the Alumni Association, a Trustee, and co-chairman of the Development Committee.
Link to Alumni Relations page
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