Hope College will honor three alumni with awards during the college's annual Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 3.
Dr. Donald Kroodsma of Amherst, Mass., who is a 1968 graduate, and Ruth Sweetser of Lombard, Ill., who is a 1967 graduate, will each receive Distinguished Alumni Awards. Kristina Kyles of Boston, Mass., who is a 2004 graduate, will receive a Young Alumni Award.
The annual Distinguished Alumni Awards are presented by the Alumni Association Board of Directors in recognition of the awardees' contributions across decades or even across a career to society and service to Hope. The award, inaugurated in 1970 and presented during the college's Alumni Banquet, is the highest honor that alumni can receive from the college's Alumni Association.
The Young Alumni Award was established to honor the talents and contributions that young alumni have made to their professions, their communities and to the college, and was first presented in 2007. Criteria include having been a member of the Alumni Association for 15 or fewer years; notable prominence through professional endeavor, research, volunteerism, and/or involvement with the local or global community or the college; and demonstrating significant initiative by starting innovative service projects, research, businesses or other original enterprises.
Kroodsma is an internationally renowned ornithologist who is retired from the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
He did pioneer work on bird song learning by studying Bewick's Wrens and then conducting a critical analysis of song structures and singing patterns of many other species. His book "The Singing Life of Birds" (2005), based on more than 30 years of observations of 33 species, received both the 2006 John Burroughs Medal Award from the John Burroughs Association and the 2006 Robert Ridgway Award from the American Birding Association.
In 2003, he had received the prestigious Elliott Coues Award from the American Ornithologists' Union, for his outstanding contribution to ornithological research. The citation that came with the award recognized him as the "...reigning authority on the biology of avian vocal behavior."
Kroodsma has also edited three scholarly volumes on acoustic communication among birds, and has written more than 100 articles, in both scholarly journals and in popular magazines. He has been an invited speaker at a variety of major regional and national conferences and events, including the national American Birding Association Convention. He is also active in several professional organizations.
He taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst from 1980 until retiring in 2003. He had previously been on the faculty at RockefellerUniversity.
Kroodsma graduated from Hope with majors in biology and chemistry. He earned his doctorate as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at OregonStateUniversity at Corvallis in 1972, and did post-doctoral work at RockefellerUniversity from 1972 to 1974.
He and his wife, Melissa, who is a Hope classmate, have three grown children, Kenda, Lara and David; and three grandchildren, Amanda, Zachary and Benjamin.
Sweetser is serving a second consecutive two-year term as national president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). As director of professional learning and business relations in the GraduateCollege at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), she is a key member of the university's corporate relations team.
The AAUW, which has 100,000 members nationwide, promotes equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. Sweetser has been national president since 2005. She was elected to the national Board of Directors in 2003, and from 1998 to 1993 she was a member and twice chair of the national AAUW College/University Relations Committee, increasing institutional membership by 25 percent. She was also president of the 7,500-member Illinois AAUW from 1995 to 1998.
Sweetser has been with IIT since 1986, serving in her current position for the past 10 years, working to strengthen relations between the university and business and industry. She had previously been with Midwest College of Engineering as director of administration and had also taught German at Barrington (Ill.) ConsolidatedHigh School.
Since 1990, she has presented more than 200 keynote speeches, workshops, staff development programs, and presentations on educational equity. She has received numerous awards and served on two Governor's Commissions on the Status of Women in Illinois. She is listed in "Who's Who in American Education," "Who's Who in America" and "Who's Who in Technology."
Her degree from Hope and the master's degree she completed at the University of Chicago in 1972 as a Ford Foundation Fellow are both in German language and literature.
She and her husband, Steven, have two grown sons, both of whom are Hope alumni--Daniel, who is a 1998 graduate; and Douglas, who is a 2000 graduate and married to 2001 Hope graduate Brenda (Brouwer) Sweetser - and a grandson, Evan Douglas Sweetser.
Kyles is president and chief executive officer of Houston Academics Inc., and directs the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) Program for the Marblehead Public Schools.
She co-founded Houston Academics Inc. in 2006. Houston Academics is an educational consulting firm designed to assist underrepresented minorities from around the world in gaining access to higher education and assisting school districts and educational organizations with progressive and culturally relevant curriculum development. The firm's student clients have gained admission to colleges and universities around the country.
She joined Marblehead Public Schools in August. As director of the METCO Program, she supervises the academic, social and emotional growth of 72 students in grades 1-12 who commute to the district from inner-city Boston.
Prior to joining the Marblehead schools she had taught history and social science at FraminghamHigh School for three years. She also completed an administrative practicum at the school while completing her Master of Arts degree in educational leadership at Simmons College.
Active in her community, she is a member of Eagle Heights Ministry; Boston's Young Black Women Society; and Marblehead's Rotary Club.
Kyles became an active member of the Hope community in the fall of 1997, as part of the second group of high school students chosen to participate in the college Project TEACH (Teachers Entering A Career through Hope) program. As she pursued her teaching degree, she worked with students at Holland's EastMiddle School and was program director of CoreCity's Learning Enhancement Achievement Program, and also directed and served as a teacher's assistant for the Algebra Plus Camp in Boston for two summers. Her activities as a Hope student also included the Phelps Scholars Program, serving as a Career Advisor, Black Student Union, I.VE League and cheerleading.