The Distinguished Alumni Citation recognizes those alumni who, in thought and deed, embody the highest ideals and aspirations of a Ripon College education. Candidates may be selected on any one of the following criteria: distinction in his/her chosen field or profession (distinctive achievement); rendering outstanding service to his/her country, state or community (outstanding service); or rendering outstanding service to, and demonstrating a loyal and active interest in Ripon College (meritorious service).
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognizes and honors recent Ripon College graduates (10 years or less from graduation) who have, through personal efforts and commitment to the College or their local communities, distinguished themselves among their peers.
Both citations are awarded annually during Alumni Weekend. To be involved, please use the Nomination Form.
2019 Award Recipients
Distinguished Alumni Citation
James Czarnik ’89 is a colonel in the U.S. Army and for more than 30 years has served as a soldier, officer, physician and commander in special operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He also was the senior Department of Defense medical lead on the ground in Liberia during the Ebola response. Czarnik is a recognized leader in military pre-hospital care and serves on the Undersecretary of Defense for Health Affairs’ Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care.
At Ripon College, Czarnik was in ROTC and was a member of the cross country team. He majored in chemistry-biology and philosophy.
His hometown is Darboy, Wisconsin. He and his wife, Dr. Katherine Czarnik, have four children, Alexandra, Madeline, Paige and Isabella.
Watch Czarnik’s acceptance speech here.
Kathryn Schultz ’89 of Fairfax, Virginia, has spent 22 years in government service, first in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and then in the U.S. Department of State where she currently is senior advisor on South Asia, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State.
She has earned 14 Superior Honor Awards and five Meritorious Honor Awards in recognition of efforts aimed at preventing the further spread and/or use of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, and promoting best practices related to their security.
Prior to joining government, she won the Silver award at the 1998 Houston International Film Festival, Film and Video Production Awards, and the 1993 Olive Branch Award from the Center for War, Peace, and the News Media, New York University, for programs she wrote for the television series “America’s Defense Monitor,” produced by the Center for Defense Information and aired nationwide on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
She is the author of entries in An Encyclopedia of War and Ethics; and chapter sections in A Global Agenda, published by the United Nations Association of the USA.
Schultz has served on numerous boards, including: Ripon College Alumni Board of Directors (2000-2009), Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship (1996-1999), Advisory Board of the British American Security Information Council (1993-1997), Carmina (professional choral ensemble, 2017-present), Washington Kantorei (professional choral ensemble, 2011-2014), and Alexandria Choral Society (1992-1996).
She has 26 years of choral conducting, including director of music at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Falls Church, Virginia (1993-2009) and as founder and director of the State Department’s choral ensemble (1999-present).
She sings with the professional women’s early music choral ensemble Illuminare and the mixed ensemble Musikanten, with which she tours internationally.
At Ripon College, she majored in politics and government and minored in music. She participated in Choral Union, Chamber Singers and Collegium Musicum; forensics; Pi Kappa Delta national honorary fraternity for speech, debate and forensics; and was a student worker in the Office of the Registrar.
Watch Schultz’s acceptance speech here.
Todd Johnson ’94 retired as a lieutenant colonel after a 22-year career in the U.S. Army. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has been awarded numerous honors, including the Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, five Meritorious Service Medals, the Draper Armor Leadership Award and the Distinguished Honor Platoon in South Korea. He has written opinion pieces, articles and book reviews for a wide variety of publications, including: Mountain Journal, The Hill, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Defense News and Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Journal.
He now is a park ranger with the National Park Service and has received its Star Award.
Johnson attended Ripon College on an ROTC scholarship, double-majoring in history and politics & government. Johnson participated on the cross country and golf teams, studied off-campus in York, England, was a resident assistant, contributed to College Days and Parallax, and participated in intramurals.
He received the Alumni Association Senior Award (1994); the ROTC Harry A. Cody Award (1993); and was a four-year ROTC Scholarship recipient; Student Senate president; Fraternity President (LDA); WRPN announcer and a member of the Executive Board.
His hometown is Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. He lives in Powell, Wyoming, with his wife, Amy Craig Johnson ’96, and their two daughters, Emma and Audrey.
Watch Johnson’s acceptance speech here.
Outstanding Young Alumni
Jenan Kharbush ’09 of Arlington, Massachusetts, is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. She is a member of the Harvard Earth and Planetary Science/Environmental Science and Engineering Department’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belong Committee; and a mentor for Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering.
Her most recent career-related awards include: UCSD Chancellor’s Dissertation Award (2016); Bok Center Certificate of Distinction in Teaching Award (Harvard University, 2016, 2018); and the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow Award (University of Michigan, Fall 2019).
Kharbush plays first violin in the Waltham Symphony Orchestra, volunteers for a local animal rescue organization and fosters kittens while they wait for their forever homes.
At Ripon College, she majored in biology and chemistry with a minor in Spanish. She received the full-tuition Pickard Scholarship in 2005, the Larry Barker Prize in Chemistry in 2006, the Franklin L. Stone Award in Chemistry in 2007 and the Leone Oyster Memorial Scholarship in 2008. She was a member of the Iota Delta chapter of TriBeta, the biology honors society, and of Eka Francian, the chemistry honors society. She played in the Ripon College Orchestra, was a mentor at the Collaborative Learning Center, tutored for chemistry and biology classes, made Dean’s List at Ripon from 2005-2009, graduated summa cum laude and was a 2009 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
Her hometown is Madison, Wisconsin. She and her husband, Roland Kersten, live in Arlington, Massachusetts.
Watch Kharbush’s acceptance speech here.
Ornella Umubyeyi ’13, originally from Kigali, Rwanda, is a hospital chaplain for CaroMont Health in North Carolina. She became a certified life life coach in 2013.
She has produced and directed the documentaries “Wipe a Tear in Rwanda” (Rwanda, 2007) and “Akwaaba (Ghana, 2009).” Her books are “Life Beyond Sight: Existing Not Living” and “Ibintu 7 Biranga Umukristo.” She also is the founder of Soul Survivors International, a nonprofit organization.
At Ripon College, Umubyeyi majored in religion with a minor in leadership studies. She was a phonathon caller, WRPN radio show host, and member of the martial arts club and Black Student Union, president of the Cultural Diversity Club from 2012-2013 and president of Campus Christian Fellowship from 2011-2013.
Her honors include the Myrtle Saylor Speer Award for her contribution to the expansion of the vision of women in ministry and theological scholarship in 2015; Celebrating Young Rwandans Achievers Award, by the First Lady of Rwanda; the Jeannette Kagame Award for community service projects and involvement in 2011; Activist of the Month Award, by Teen Voice Magazine in 2009; the Peace Maker Award from the Traprock Peace Center in 2007; the Miriam Emerson Peterson Award for contributions to the cause of international understanding in 2008; the Community Service Award for raising awareness on issues around the world in 2008; the Head of School Award, for dedication as the Stoneleigh Burnham School and the community Student Council President in 2009.
She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Watch Umubyeyi’s acceptance speech here.