All WMU alumni share fond memories about WMU and experiences during their time as students. When you meet Bronco alumni, ask what their experiences were like at WMU. Chances are, you’ll see the Bronco pride light up their faces as they describe their alma mater. The following are just a few of WMU’s best and brightest alumni. To learn about more proud Bronco alums, visit My WMU.
Greg Jennings completed his degree at WMU graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. A Kalamazoo native, Jennings graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School where he participated in football, baseball and track. In 2005, he was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Jennings began his NFL career when he was drafted in 2006 as the starting wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers. In 2013, he signed a five-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Jennings founded The Greg Jennings Foundation, which benefits underprivileged children and youth organizations in Michigan and Wisconsin.
Trent was born and raised in Zimbabwe, where women were not allowed to attend school. Yet this did not stop young Trent; she taught her self to read and write from her brother’s schoolbooks yearning to earn an education of her own. At age 11, Trent was married and by age 18 had 3 children. Her husband beat her each time she spoke of her dreams to earn a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. After a visit from Heifer International where Trent met Jo Luck in 1991 and with encouragement from her mother, Trent moved her family to America in 1998. In 5 years, Trent earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oklahoma State University. Trent was awarded her doctoral degree from Western Michigan University in 2009 for her thesis on HIV/AIDS prevention programs for women and girls in Africa. After a book was published sharing her life story, she was a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and was eventually named Oprah’s favorite guest in May 2011. Oprah has donated $1.5 million dollars to Trent and her work with Heifer International to build a girls’ school in Trent’s home village.
VanDusen graduated from Western Michigan University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Flight Science. After completing the Air and Space Basic Course in 2006, VanDusen was commissioned to the United States Air Force. In 2008, he became a Distinguished Graduate in Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at the Columbus Air Force Base. As of October 2011, Captain VanDusen is the Chief of Mobility Operation of the 9th Air Refueling Squadron at California’s Travis Air Force Base. He is responsible for the world-wide mobility readiness of over 120 KC-10 crew members and support personnel. He has been deployed numerous times as a KC-10 crew member to Southwest Asia and has logged over 2,000 flight hours. Captain VanDusen has been awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters. In 2012, Captain VanDusen earned his Master of Arts in International Relations and Conflict Resolution at the American Military University in Manassas, VA.
Craig Daitch graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature. Since graduating from WMU, Daitch co-founded a text messaging software company in 2001, became a consultant on new media, moved to New York to work at an advertising agency and recently returned back to Michigan. Currently, Daitch manages digital communication for Ford Motor Company.
Candace Beeke graduated from WMU in 1999 with degrees in both public relations and journalism. Upon graduation, Beeke worked for the Business Review West Michigan. In 2003, Beeke returned to WMU as an adjunct professor for introductory journalism courses, while still holding her editorial position at the Business Review West Michigan. In 2010, she left both positions and moved with her family to Texas to become editor of the Houston Business Journal. When asked about her experience at WMU, Beeke reminisces: “Western bridges the gap between a big school, where you could get lost and overwhelmed, and a small school, where you don’t have the diversity of opportunity and experience.”
Brooke Elliott graduated from WMU in 1998 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre Performance. After graduating, Elliott held minor roles in Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and performed in the musicals Wicked and The Pirate Queen. Her breakout moment occurred with her debut as the lead character in Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva in 2009. She has been nominated for her role in the television series for Satellite Award Best Actress - Television Series Musical or Comedy (2009) and Prism Awards for Best Actress in Comedy Series (2011).
During his time as a student at WMU, Matthew Mace was already laying the foundation for his firm Blue Granite, a recognized leader in business intelligence. Blue Granite, located in WMU's Business Research and Technology Park, has contributed significantly to the local and state economy. Mace has been identified as one of the Top 40 Business Leaders Under 40 in West Michigan. He is a top leader for the Department of Business Information Systems, serving as Chair of the department's advisory board for several years and adding immeasurably to the department's programs through his industry expertise. Mace has provided space in his offices for student projects, participated in the Professor of the Day program and hired employees from his alma mater.
In 1982, Ed Gordon received a Bachelor of Arts Communication and Political Science. With aspirations to become a television journalist, Gordon began his career in 1986 as the host of the weekly television host Detroit Black Journal and worked as a free-lance journalist for Black Entertainment Television (BET). In 1988, Gordon became anchor for BET News and has continued to work for BET through his career hosting different television shows and news specials. Gordon has also worked for NBC News, Dateline, NPR, Today, MSNBC, CBS News, and 60 Minutes.
Kathy Beauregard became WMU's first female executive director of intercollegiate athletics in 1997. Nationally, she is among only five women, and the only one in Michigan, to hold the top athletic post. Beauregard began her career as a WMU Gymnastics Coach. In nine years, she led the team to two conference championships and was named Coach of the Year for the Mid-American Conference twice. Beauregard went on to become an associate athletic director and a senior associate athletic director before taking the reins of the WMU division. Among her many awards, in 2002 Beauregard received the Athena Award from the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce, the YWCA of Kalamazoo recognized Beauregard for a lifetime achievement award, and has been selected by her peers as Athletic Director of the Year.
Flores received his M.A. in Counseling and Personnel from Western Michigan University in 1977, after receiving undergraduate degrees in business administration and elementary education from Universidad de Guadalajara and Centro Normal Regional, Mexico. He served as director of programs and services for the Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority. Antonio Flores was named the third president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in 1996 and has since then has tripled membership. Furthermore, Flores was instrumental increasing federal funding from $12 million to over $220 million dollars for Hispanic Serving Institutions. Recently, he has been named to the 2012 List of 101 Most Influential Latinos.
Long graduated in 1960 from WMU’s College of Education, however she also took theatre classes during her time at the University. After graduation, Long moved to New York City to pursue acting classes while teaching in the city. Her break-out moment was on the television series Soul!, a variety series where she hosted Stevie Wonder and Patti LaBelle. In 1969, Long stumbled upon the Sesame Street set and was given the role of Miss Susan. She is one of three cast members who have been on the show since the very beginning. In 1973, Long earned her doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts. She is a consultant and speaker on media, multiculturalism, and education.
Jack Clifford graduated in 1956 from WMU. Clifford, along with fellow students, created the Western Inter-Dormitory Radio Station (WIDR) in 1951. In 1993, he started The Food Network, gaining the appreciation of foodies everywhere. Clifford credits WMU for helping him launch his career and teaching him the gift of responsibility.
Stryker grew up in Southern Michigan, received his teaching certificate from WMU in 1916 and began teaching in local schools. After serving in World War I, he returned to Michigan and received a doctorate degree in medicine. In 1941, Stryker founded a medical supply manufacturing corporation. In 1970, he was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award from the WMU Alumni Association.