The Pierce College Foundation will honored five alums for their personal and professional accomplishments at an awards banquet April 12 at Pierce College Puyallup.
Winners of the 2007 Distinguished Alumni Awards are:
- Gil Hulsmann, VP and director of land development services, Abbey Road Group
- Sylvia Maine, chief of manpower and organization at McChord Air Force Base
- Janet McTurnal (Col. Ret. Washington State Army National Guard), medical director of the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems (DRS)
- James Murphy, senior vice president for the International Division of Costco Wholesale
- Cyndi Wikstrom, general manager, Tacoma’s Click!Network.
Dr. Stan Flemming and Mary Kay Brown presided as Masters of Ceremonies.
Cherry Tinker, executive director of the Pierce College Foundation, said, “The annual awards are a way to acknowledge some of the many worth alums who deserve recognition for their professional and academic achievements, community service, college service or personal triumphs.”
“My position with Costco has been a great way to gain a new perspective of the world and to see barriers come down as we establish business relationships with other countries,” says Murphy who received an associate’s degree in food management from Pierce College Fort Steilacoom.
Murphy directs activities and expanding operations outside of North America for the leader in the wholesale club industry. Responsible for the U.S.-based global buying and export group, Murphy serves on the Costco’s executive committee.
After spending nine years working out of England, the Lincoln High School graduate and his family recently returned to Tacoma.
Starting out his career pushing grocery carts Murphy obtained a bachelor of science degree in food management from UCLA and a master’s degree in the same specialty from the University of Portland. Maintaining a constant connection with education, Murphy serves on the advisory board for the University of Washington School of Business.
Murphy said his experience at Pierce College “set the stage for convincing me I could build a successful career in the food management industry.”
Building on engineering, project management and land development skills he developed in his Army and civilian careers, in 2001 Hulsmann established the Abbey Road Group which offers a wide range of land development services.
One of Abbey Road’s recent projects was the Milgard Child Development Center at Fort Steilacoom.
“With the technical, land development and project management assistance provided by Abbey Road, the Pierce College Foundation has built a center that is receiving rave reviews,” said Cherry Tinker, executive director of the foundation.
To prepare for life as a civilian, Hulsmann enrolled in speech, humanities, business and creative writing classes at Pierce at Fort Lewis.
“The Pierce faculty helped me re-program my thinking from military acronyms and technical jargon to a communication style that could be understood by my civilian clients,” said Hulsmann, one of the newest members of the Pierce College Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Although she did not enroll at Pierce College until two of her three children were college students themselves, Maine has replaced her “late-bloomer” status with that of achieving the highest rank for a civilian woman employee and key advisor to leadership in the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base.
The Lakewood resident was recognized in 2003 as Installation Level Senior Civilian of the Year by the Air Force Manpower Agency.
Besides holding down her fulltime position, Maine teaches in the masters’ programs at Chapman and St. Martin’s Universities. She also owns her own consulting business, MainLine Business Solutions.
Maine obtained her bachelor of science degree in marketing and business from St. Martin’s, graduating cum laude; she went on to obtain master’s degrees in Human Resource Management and Organizational Leadership from Chapman, again graduating cum laude.
Individuals who praise Maine’s boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm include Tom Norton, Ph.D., faculty member at the Pierce military sites and adjunct faculty member at Chapman, who says, “Sylvia is the most creative teacher I’ve ever met-she has the gift of making the mundane joyful.”
McTurnal is the first registered nurse to serve as medical director of the state’s DRS.
Prior to accepting the appointment with the DRS in 1995, she worked for 10 years fulltime with the Washington Army National Guard, retiring as a colonel in 2006. She is among only three nurses in the history of the Washington Army National Guard to achieve rank of colonel and one of five woman officers ever to be promoted to that rank in the history of the Army Guard in Washington state.
At Pierce, McTurnal discovered she had an interest in a career in nursing and statistics which she said “I use every day in the evaluation processes I use in my current position.”
McTurnal graduated magna cum laude in nursing from Pacific Lutheran University in 1982. Following graduation from PLU, she was awarded one of 28 National Health Service scholarships which provided her with the opportunity to work for two years with Indian tribes in Arizona and Oregon.
Still maintaining her association with the Native American culture, McTurnal has worked with the Puyallup Tribal Health Clinic. During retirement, she and her husband, Bill, a member of the Cowlitz tribe, plan to serve the Native American community as volunteers.
A fascination with “cutting edge technology” has led Cyndi Wikstrom to a position as general manager of the nation’s largest municipal telecommunications company.
Wikstrom joined the Tacoma Public Utilities in 1997 as marketing manager for the utilities’ bold initiative to integrate cable television, telecommunications and the internet. As soon as she was hired, Wikstrom was immersed in nearly all phases of developing and marketing Click! products and services in “America’s most wired city.”
The University Place native attended Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom after graduating from Curtis High School.
“As a student at Pierce, I discovered I was really good in math, even though I was interested in the fine arts-that awareness gave me the confidence to see business in my future,” Wikstrom revealed.
Adept at juggling work, home life, school, and community involvement, Wikstrom obtained a bachelor of science degree in business administration and a masters in business administration with honors from City University.
Diane Lachel, Click! Network’s manager of community and governmental affairs, added, “Because of her can-do attitude, willingness to treat everyone with respect, customer focus and communication skills, she has become an integral part of the Tacoma Public Utilities’ leadership team.”