Unified by a love for education and for Weber State, the 52nd annual WSU Salutes ceremony celebrated Weber alumni and community members on Oct. 16.

Homecoming Royalty Annabelle Harris and Nathan Hole receive their Weber State Salute awards. Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost
Homecoming Royalty Annabelle Harris and Nathan Hole receive their Weber State Salute awards. Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost

“Weber State might have been what brought us together, but it’s the Alumni Center that keeps us together,” Cash J. Knight, master of ceremonies for the event, said.

The ceremony began by honoring Homecoming Royalty, connecting the past to the present. Annabell Harris and Nathan Hole are this year’s student Homecoming Royalty.

“It’s been a lot of fun, being able to interact with a lot of people, the change-makers at Weber, the big donors, and other award recipients as well. They’re amazing, very well deserved,” Hole said.

Student homecoming royalty Annabelle Harris and Nathan Hole with Emeriti homecoming royalty Judy Jepson Hurst  '64 and Winslow Hurst  BS '67. Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost
Student homecoming royalty Annabelle Harris and Nathan Hole with Emeriti homecoming royalty Winslow and Judy Jeppson Hurst. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)

Winslow and Judy Jeppson Hurst were named Emeriti Homecoming Royalty. Together, they have given 56 years of combined service to the school. “You’ve made our old hearts soar like an eagle,” they said, standing on stage hand-in-hand as they accepted the award.

This year’s Distinguished Service award went to Dr. William and Barbara Hughes. The Hughes have made many contributions to the community and WSU, including developing a scholarship program designed to assist single mothers.

President Mortensen pictured alongside award recipients and the current homecoming royalty. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)
President Mortensen pictured alongside award recipients and the current homecoming royalty. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)

“We’ve adopted Weber,” Barbara Hughes said.

Dr. Jeff Stephens received the Lewis W. Shurtliff Award for Contributions to Education. Stephens earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at WSU. He was awarded the 2021 Empowered Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

The award for Outstanding Young Alumnus went to Pete Sands. During the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, Sands took the reins on a humanitarian project to assist Utah’s Navajo Nation.

Groups of people gather in the halls for the reception before the ceremony. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)
Groups of people gather in the halls for the reception before the ceremony. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)

“I actually did something that was worthwhile. I did my best and I can be proud of that” Sands said. He gave a special mention to a professor who had a particularly meaningful impact on his educational experience.

“I advocate for Weber State everywhere I go,” he said.

The recipient of the Distinguished Alumna this year is Brittany Page Benko. Benko is the Huntsman Corporations’ Senior vice president of environmental, health & safety. “It’s been a really interesting career path, also very male dominated,” Benko said. She spoke fondly of her time in the Weber STEM programs and faculty that believed in her.

Dr. Wiliam and Barbara Huges receive the distinguished service award. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)
Dr. William and Barbara Hughes receive the distinguished service award. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)

To this day, Benko is usually the only woman in the room in her field but is hopeful about the progress. She reflected on advice provided by her mentor:

“Look around. You are the only woman in the room. Don’t let that dictate what you think you can do,” Benko said. “I will say, Weber State gave me all the skills, the technical skills, the scientific learning to be able to navigate it.”

Craig M. Trewet received the Distinguished Alumnus award. Trewet is the senior director of the Boeing Production System and vice president of the Boeing Leadership Network. “Weber State is foundational to my philosophy of education,” Trewet said.

Brittany Page Benko BS '97 was recognized as the disinguished alumna. Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost
Brittany Page Benko was recognized as the distinguished alumna. (Lisa Rajigah/The Signpost)

The Emeriti Alumni Lifetime Achievement was awarded to Mike Beasley. Since his graduation from Weber in 1971, Beasley has had many great accomplishments including receiving IBM Executive Leadership Award and completing an MBA from MIT. He was named Most Prominent African American in High Technology, has served as board chair of the California chapter of MESA USA, and created scholarship and mentor programs.

Knight asked the audience to reflect on how many students have been impacted by these individuals. The event carried an overarching theme of school pride, gratitude and the feeling of coming home.

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