NSU recognized three outstanding alumni with distinguished service awards during its Homecoming festivities Oct. 22. Honorees were Tommy Chester, Distinguished Alumnus; Dr. Cade Brumley, Outstanding Young Alumnus; and Nicole Shunte Gray, Alumni Volunteer of the Year. Each award is presented to a Northwestern graduate who has exhibited dedication and loyalty to the university’s programs and missions and has demonstrated continued interest in service as a volunteer, donor or advocate.
The Distinguished Alumnus award is presented to an alumnus who has a demonstrated record of service to NSU and long-term interest in serving the university. The recipient must have graduated at least 10 years prior to nomination and must be 40 years of age or older at the time of nomination.
Chester earned a bachelor’s degree in 1967 and a master’s in 1969 from NSU. He has been involved with the Natchitoches Parish Police and Fire Board and the board of the Boys and Girls Club of El Camino Real. He is past president of the NSU Alumni Association and Demons Unlimited. He is a deacon at First Baptist Church and a member of the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches.
The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award is presented to a young alumnus has demonstrated an early record of service to Northwestern State. Recipients must have attained alumni status within 10 years and must be 40 years old or younger at the time of nomination.
Brumley is actively involved with Northwestern State University alumni engagement initiatives. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Northwestern State in 2002. He and his wife, the former Toni Vail, also a graduate of Northwestern State, are the parents of two boys.
The Volunteer of the Year award is given to a member of the NSU Alumni Association who demonstrates an exemplary record of volunteering time, talents and service to the Alumni Association and demonstrates active involvement with a chapter, alumni interest group, affiliate program, NSU Alumni Board or other forums of volunteer service to the university.
Gray has been a strong advocate for NSU and its growth, having organized and established the NSU Black Alumni Alliance, which promotes the expansion of the alumni network. In 2008, she established the James Oliphant Memorial Football Scholarship, which is named for her father, a 1977 graduate of NSU. She currently serves on the executive committees for the Northwestern State University Foundation Board of Directors and the Demons Unlimited Foundation Board of Directors. She also serves on the fundraising committee and is a member of the Dallas chapter of the Northwestern State University Alumni Association. She has a strong alumni presence both on and off the campus with a primary mission of helping others achieve a quality education.
Gray graduated from Northwestern State with a degree in journalism in 1994. As a student, she was president of the student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Public Relations Society of America and Northwestern’s first student chapter of the NAACP. She also competed in the 1992 Lady of the Bracelet pageant and was selected to represent Northwestern State at Texas A&M’s annual Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference.