ALMA — The Alma College Advancement Office this month announced winners of the 2023 Alumni Awards in five areas, spanning multiple generations of Alma Scots.
Roderic Mast, Carolyn Schultz, Krista Ried, Kasey Zehner and Karen Klumpp will be honored as part of the college’s annual Homecoming, Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
Distinguished Alumni Award
This is the highest honor presented to alumni. It recognizes those who have brought distinction to the college through their professions, set strong examples for others, and served their communities through personal accomplishments that enhance the prestige of the college.
Roderic Mast ’79
Rod Mast pursued his lifelong love for nature at Alma College, learning under biology faculty members Larry Wittle and Richard Roeper. Since graduating, Rod has worked and traveled in more than 150 countries, and has dedicated his life to nature and ocean conservation globally.
Mast currently serves as president of the Oceanic Society, America’s first ocean conservation nonprofit. He also spent more than two decades as vice president of Conservation International. An international biodiversity conservationist and sea turtle expert, Mast got his start as a field researcher in Mexico, and a ship-board naturalist in the Galapagos Islands.
Mast originally chose to come to Alma College because its 4-4-1 calendar allowed for opportunities to take part in travel Spring Terms; he went on several, studying oceanography, avian biology and marine biology. His advice to current students is to “learn languages, and go abroad. The world has a lot to teach you.”
This award is presented to alumni for their loyalty and service to Alma College and the college’s Alumni Association. It is named in memory of George Hebert, a 1920 alumnus whose love of Alma College and work on behalf of the institution was an inspiration to all alumni.
Carolyn Schultz ’84
Carolyn Schultz, a biology major during her time at Alma College, has stayed connected to Alma in a number of ways since graduation. She served for a decade on the Board of Trustees, as president of the Alumni Board, assisted in a number of admissions and athletics events, and helped establish the Schultz Family Scholarship, which benefits students of color.
She said she has done so in large part because of the lifelong friendships that formed during her four years at the college, along with the strong relationships that took place after leaving.
She regularly attends Homecoming events, only missing on two occasions over the last 50 years. She has organized a reunion/celebration of the Alpha Theta sorority, currently known as Gamma Phi Beta. She has a nephew who previously attended Alma College and a niece who currently attends the college.
Schultz currently works as a quality manager at Zoetis, Inc., an animal pharmaceutical firm. She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Mich., serving as vice president of the organization, and with her church’s youth group and choir. She continues to follow her passion for music by participating with the Grand Rapids Symphony chorus and Forest Hills Community Band.
“Seek your passion,” Schultz advised current students. “Define your own standard of success. The path might not be straight, but keep pursuing your dreams.”
Smith Distinguished Service Award
This award is presented to a graduate who believes in Alma College and has assisted with student recruitment, provided career steps to students or served on a college council or board. It is named in honor of Art ’38 and Carra (Jones) ’42 Smith.
Krista (Schroeder) Ried ’94
Krista Ried has stayed very involved in Alma College since her graduation — notably, by attending almost every Homecoming event over the last 20 years.
Ried will be honored at this year’s Homecoming, in large part, for her service to the college Alumni Board, where she has served as vice president and as president.
“On the board, the opportunity to meet so many passionate alumni from all decades and play a part in making homecomings memorable was what kept me coming back,” Ried said. “I have strong friendships with so many amazing people outside of my graduating class.”
Ried graduated as an education major. Since then, she served as a classroom teacher for a decade before moving on to the Michigan Department of Education, where she has worked for 20 years in a number of roles, including teacher quality coordinator and supervisor of Professional Educator Certification Services.
Ried has two children who are Scots, including Anika ’23 and Peyton, a junior at the college. Her advice to current students is to “try everything.”
“So much of your education is about seeing the world in another way and/or through someone else’s eyes,” Ried said.
Young Alumni Award
The award recognizes alumni of the past five to 15 years who are following through on the values of Alma College while attaining a high level of professional accomplishment and volunteer service.
Kasey Zehner ’13
As a native of Alma, Kasey Zehner was exposed to Alma College early in life and began her studies at the college while still a student in high school. After graduating from Alma College in 2013, Zehner has worked to strengthen ties between her alma mater and hometown.
Zehner serves as vice president of Greater Gratiot Development, Inc., which provides countywide economic and community development services in Gratiot County, Mich., where she provides business consulting, community planning and marketing services, among others.
Zehner also volunteers with a number of local area organizations, including the Gratiot County Community Foundation and Alma Action Association. She volunteers and serves on the boards of the Central Michigan Manufacturers Association, Gratiot Young Professionals Network and Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Alma College serves a pivotal role to its students, staff, and community,” Zehner said. “Not only is it a leading employer in the area, but Alma is also incredibly generous in welcoming the community to use its recreational, educational, and artistic resources. Additionally, they have made a commitment to bettering the community by increasing their presence in the downtown area and supporting local organizations.”
The parade grand marshal for Alma College Homecoming represents the essence of Alma College.
Karen Klumpp ’87
Few people in the recent history of Alma College have seen it through so many lenses as Karen Klumpp, who has been a student, staff member, faculty member and administrator at various points since 1978.
Klumpp started at Alma College as a faculty secretary and after two years, began to pursue an undergraduate degree. In 1987, she graduated cum laude, with a major in computer information systems. While pursuing a graduate degree, she continued to work at Alma College, and eventually completed a Ph.D. at Michigan State University, all the while remaining a loyal Scot.
She later served in a variety of administrative roles, including registrar, vice president for enrollment, associate provost, and the inaugural director of the Center for Student Opportunity. From 2018-20, she served as assistant professor of business administration.
Klumpp fondly recalls two separate standing ovations she received from the faculty of Alma College: one at her commencement in 1987 and another while attending Fall Conference as an administrator for the first time, when her name was announced with her new title.
“Lean into the work, recognize the enjoyment and privilege of this education, and appreciate your faculty,” Klumpp advised new students to do. “For those who accept the challenges, Alma helps students to rise to their best opportunities.”