Cookeville – There are four Tennessee Tech University alumni who will join the more than 200 award recipients since this alumni recognition program began in 1975.
Tennessee Tech’s Alumni Association solicits and evaluates nominations in four categories. The 2022 recipients are global cyber and technology executive Ron H.R. Johnson, Outstanding Young Alumnus Award; former Golden Eagle and NFL player Frank T. Omiyale, Outstanding Service Award; former mathematics teacher J. Elizabeth Hendrix, Outstanding Philanthropy Award and the president of California State University San Marcos Ellen J. Neufeldt, Distinguished Alumnus Award.
“This is one of our most important events of the year for Tech’s Alumni Association,” said Kelly Chambers, assistant director of the Crawford Alumni Center at Tennessee Tech. “It’s exciting to not only honor these individuals who are representing their alma mater so well, but to also hear their stories and find out how Tech helped lay the foundation for their success.”
This year’s alumni award recipients will be honored during the Evening of Excellence ceremony on Nov. 5. That coincides with the university’s annual homecoming festivities. Tickets are still on sale and can be purchased at tntech.edu/univadv/cac/registration-alumniawards.php. For more information about homecoming weekend and the Crawford Alumni Center, visit tntech.edu/univadv/cac/.
Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Johnson is a global cyber and technology transformation executive within EY’s Financial Services Office. He primarily focuses on banking and capital markets’ clients, leading teams and organizations in creating cyber resiliency for business growth and continuity.
Prior to joining EY’s leadership team, Johnson served 12 years as a Federal Bureau of Investigations intelligence and risk executive, leading enterprise programs, transformations and crises. He also served 16 years as an active duty and reserve United States Army senior intelligence officer, with deployments to Iraq and the Horn of Africa for traditional and special operations units. He is also a Harvard senior executive fellow and holds a master’s in cyber threat intelligence.
Johnson credits his success to the unwavering support of his family and the leadership skills he learned as a Tennessee Tech student-athlete and ROTC cadet.
Outstanding Service Award
Originally from Nashville, Omiyale played football for the Golden Eagles from 2001 to 2004 and was selected in the fifth-round of the 2005 National Football League draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
After completing an eight-year career in the NFL, Omiyale came back to Tech to finish his bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2014. He has always had a heart for community service and helping those in need. He credits Tech for providing an opportunity to change a young man’s life forever.
Omiyale is on a mission to continue to help the next generation. He currently is a teacher assistant and football assistant coach at T.W. Hunter Middle School. He also volunteers through his church and several nonprofits in the Nashville area, including the NFL Alumni Association.
Outstanding Philanthropy Award
Born in 1942, Hendrix is a Tennessee native with ties to Bethel Springs, Winchester and Cookeville. She graduated from Central High School in 1960 and Tennessee Tech (then known as Tennessee Polytechnic Institute) in 1963 with a degree in secondary education and minors in English and mathematics.
Hendrix taught math for 36 years in Maryland, Colorado and Tennessee. When not in the classroom teaching, she was available before and after class for tutoring. She continued serving nontraditional college students after her retirement, teaching at Pellissippi State Community College and Tusculum University Knoxville.
Her long and successful career is illustrative of her love of teaching and passion for student success. Modeling the example set forth by her family for helping others, her philanthropic efforts are focused on student access and success so that today’s students may have the same opportunity to help others.
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Since becoming the fourth president of California State University San Marcos in July 2019, Neufeldt has focused on engaging, interacting, listening and building relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community constituents.
A champion of innovation and entrepreneurship, Neufeldt oversaw the opening of CSUSM’s Innovation Hub, an on-campus home for meeting societal needs, less than a year into her tenure. But her commitment to innovation goes beyond a physical space, encompassing an entire ecosystem that includes a critical focus on social innovation. Focusing throughout her career on student success and student social mobility, she cares deeply about being part of the solution to creating pathways for students to achieve their dreams.
Underscoring Neufeldt’s commitment to CSUSM’s role in cultivating partnerships that create opportunities for students and enrich the communities served by the university, she serves on the board of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and on the board of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities. She received her doctor of education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, her master of arts in educational psychology and counselor education from Tech and her bachelor of science in marketing from Tech.
Tennessee Tech is ranked as the number one public university in the state, according to Money Magazine, as well as a “Best National University” by U.S. News & World Report. The university offers more than 200-plus programs of study, and Tech grads leave with the least debt of all public universities in the state. In fact, based on total cost and alumni earnings, Tech provides students with the highest return on investment for any public university in Tennessee, according to PayScale.
Find out more at tntech.edu.