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Outstanding Graduates announced for
Spring Alumni Reunion

ALVA, Okla. (April 25, 2019) – The Northwestern Foundation & Alumni Association will recognize five Outstanding Graduates during the annual Spring Reunion Banquet on Saturday, April 27 at 6 p.m.

The honored alumni include Dixie Friend Gay, class of 1975, Arts category; Darell V. Nay, class of 1956, Business/ Professional category; Kristi Goff, class of 1994, Education category; Tom and Margaret Melander, both class of 1976, Humanitarian category; and Felipe Eichenberger, class of 2009, Ranger Recognition category.

All alumni, community and friends are invited to attend the banquet.

Dixie Friend Gay
Outstanding Graduate, Arts

A native to northwest Oklahoma, Dixie Friend Gay grew up on a cattle ranch west of Freedom, Okla., before graduating from Northwestern in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in art education. She later received a master’s in studio arts from New York University in 1989.

Gay pursued her career as an artist, which spans four decades and includes sculpture, painting, mosaics and drawings. Since 1997, she has focused on public art and is known for her public art commissions. Her work is displayed at Dallas Love Field Airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the Port of Miami, Indianapolis International Airport, Texas A&M University at Galveston and Sam Houston University.

In 2017, Gay completed “Books of a Feather,” an outdoor installation of three mosaic bird sculptures ranging from 12- to 15-feet high at the Alice M. Young Neighborhood Library in Houston. In 2018, she completed three large mosaic installations – two for new science buildings at universities in Texas, and a 63-foot long wall in a Houston park.

Her public art has been recognized by Americans for the Arts five times, most recently in 2018 for “Books of a Feather.” Gay has received numerous Craftsmanship Awards and the Star of Design from The Decorative Center of Houston. Gay was honored by the Texas Legislature as Texas Artist of the Year in 2003 – the first woman to receive the recognition.

Gay’s studio art is included in many prominent private collections and has also been acquired by the Federal Reserve Bank, Rice University, the Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia, Washington State Public Art and the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), among many other institutional collections. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America.

Gay is currently working on a mosaic for the new Charlotte, North Carolina airport, a 15,000-pound corten steel sculpture for Foster Park in Fort Worth, and two projects for the City of Austin.

Darell V. Nay
Outstanding Graduate, Business/Professional

Originally from Carrier, Okla., Darell V. Nay graduated fromNorthwestern in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in education. While attending Northwestern, Nay was active in athletics. He played basketball and baseball all four years. He also was a member of the gymnastics and exhibition team his junior and senior years, and the Chorale Group his senior year.

After graduation, Nay taught in the classroom; coached basketball, baseball and football; and served as a  principal. He then completed two years of service in the U.S. Army at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He later joined Hinton & Locke, Inc., Mortgage Bankers in Dallas as a sales executive in 1960. In 1962, Nay married Gladys Ann Schmidt. The two moved to Waxahachie, Texas, in 1963 and established The Nay Company, Inc.

Within the next decade, Nay became owner or co-owner of several additional companies and incorporations. Those entities included owner and president of Car Crushers, Inc., co-owner and vice president of Feed Mill Erection Co., owner of TLN Cattle Co., and co-owner of Gorman Milling, Inc.

For the past 30 years, Nay has adhered to the importance of community involvement. He has raised funds and/or built several projects. These projects include the Ellis County Royals-Livestock Show and Building for 4-H and FFA; the Ellis County Advocacy Center in Waxahachie, Texas; the Waxahachie YMCA Facility; and the Family Life Center in Waxahachie.

Nay considers contributing to his community and providing scholarships for students in Texas and Oklahoma are his greatest accomplishments.

Nay resides in Waxahachie and has two sons, Troy and Terry, along with seven grandchildren.

Kristi Goff
Outstanding Graduate, Education

After graduating from Fargo High School (Fargo, Okla.), Kristi Goff attended Northwestern and received her Bachelor of Education degree in 1994.

During her time at Northwestern, Goff was a member of the Aggie Club and the Student Oklahoma Education Association. She also participated in intramural sports and worked at the campus bookstore. All of these activities led to memorable moments for Goff as she made new and lifelong friends during her college life.

After graduation, Goff began working with Opportunities, Inc. Head Start in 1994 from August to December as an assistant teacher. That December, Goff joined the Vici Public Schools as a kindergarten teacher for the spring semester. Goff eventually rejoined Opportunities Inc., as a teacher and center director from 1995 to 1999. She then spent a year at Shattuck Public Schools as a kindergarten teacher before joining Woodward Public Schools to teach first grade in 2000. In 2008, Goff returned to her hometown to teach at Fargo-Gage Public Schools as a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher.

Goff’s philosophy in education is “student based.” Student involvement in classroom lessons is key to each student’s individual level of success. Goff incorporates many interesting techniques so all students can learn at their level.

While Goff considers her role as a mom being her greatest accomplishment, others recognize her strength and determination in supporting all students to be their best – inside and outside the classroom – are her outstanding gifts. Many children continue to call her “Momma Goff”, and her open-door policy inspires honesty and motivation in her students’ lives.

Goff resides in Fargo with her husband Michael. Their son, Hunter, is currently a junior at Northwestern.

Tom and Margaret Melander
Outstanding Graduates, Humanitarian

Tom Melander – a Colorado native – and Margaret Melander – from Hooker, Okla. – both graduated from Northwestern in 1976. Tom finished with degrees in business administration and biological sciences, while Margaret received a degree in natural sciences.

At Northwestern, Tom was a member of the Ranger football team while Margaret participated in Rangerettes, stage band, theatrical productions and worked in the biology department. During her final year at Northwestern, Margaret received the John F. Kennedy Award – the first woman to receive this award.

After graduating, Margaret spent 10 years as a science teacher for secondary schools before becoming a court reporter for Attorneys Service Center in 1990. She was a court reporter for 20 years, and also co-owned Attorneys Service Center from 2002 to 2009. 

During that time, Tom worked as a computer engineer and project manager for 27 years and a small business owner and developer for six
years. He was a church missions director at Arvada Covenant Church before retiring in 2014.

In 2006, Tom and Margaret became involved with the Global Refuge International (GRI) organization that provides emergency relief and medical supplies to residents of war-torn countries, as well as empowering indigenous people with education and spiritual support. Tom eventually served as chairman of GRI’s Board of Directors. Mission trips took him to Uganda, Burma and many other locations.

Tom and Margaret also worked with the Lost Boys of 
Sudan organization.
This included supporting the restructuring of Seeds of South Sudan, an organization that rescues South Sudan
refugee orphans. 
Seeds of South Sudan was started by one of the Lost Boys.

Margaret turned her personal adversity into a new crusade in 2011 when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She has participated in 10 clinical trials and is active in the Parkinson Association of the Rockies, meeting and supporting individuals who have been recently diagnosed. Tom supports her in this work.

“We have learned that we are stronger as two.”

The Melanders reside in Arvada, Colo., and have two children and two grandchildren.

Felipe Eichenberger
Outstanding Graduate, Ranger Recognition

A native of Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil, Felipe Eichenberger graduated from Northwestern in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in health and sports science. While at Northwestern, Eichenberger was a four-year varsity member on the Ranger basketball team from 2005-2009.

After graduation, Eichenberger took his love for the strength and conditioning side of the game to Las Vegas to work in an internship. Eichenberger moved to Denver after the internship and introduced himself to Steve Hess, the strength and conditioning coach of the Denver Nuggets. Eichenberger called Hess every day for three months hoping to find a door into the Nuggets’ organization. Eventually, Hess asked him to interview for a position at his gym, Forza Fitness and Performance Club. Eichenberger began working there as a performance trainer in 2011.

During the NBA lockout period that same year, Hess was not allowed to work with the Nuggets players. He asked Eichenberger to help train them at Forza. Eichenberger worked with NBA veterans, including Nenê and J.R. Smith. His perseverance and his talent led him to an interview with Hess to work for the Nuggets’ organization.

Starting as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Nuggets, Eichenberger began pursuing his master’s degree in kinesiology and exercise science from Arizona’s A.T. Still University.

Eichenberger earned the associate head strength and conditioning coach position in April 2016 before being named Hess’s successor in 2017 as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Nuggets. In this position, Eichenberger is responsible for developing the team’s weight training, conditioning and nutrition programs.

Eichenberger resides in Denver with Carly and their two children, Gia and August.

For more information, contact John Allen, director of alumni relations, at 580-327-8593 or jwallen@nwosu.edu.

Phone: (580) 327-8593
Fax: (580) 327-8499
E-Mail: nwalumni@nwosu.edu

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