Debra D. Hendershot

Class of 1988
Outstanding Professional Achievement

In her mid 30s, the 2009 Distinguished Alumna for Outstanding Professionalism was the mother of two small children and helping her husband build the family business. She decided to re-enter the workforce full-time, but realized the computer had replaced the typewriter and she needed to up-grade her skills. Being a non-traditional student, she was a bit anxious about going back to school. So, her original plan was to take just two courses at Washington Technical College to get enough computer skills to get a job.

Those two courses turned into four and ultimately an Associate of Applied Business in Secretarial Science in 1988, a bachelor’s degree in business education from Glenville State College in West Virginia, in 1990, and a master’s in library and information sciences from the University of South Carolina at Columbia in 1996.

In 1992, she returned to Washington State Community College as an instructor, made her way up through the ranks, and now is not only a full professor but also the chair of the business department. Her professionalism is acknowledged by students, colleagues, and the community alike. As others have said, she works feverishly hard at whatever she does and truly takes pride in the success of others. She has high expectations for her students and even higher expectations of herself. She never stops learning, exploring, advocating, and creating so she can mentor and support the efforts of others. Her energy is directed toward the success of others at home, at school, at church, and in the community. As one person said, “She possesses the ‘it’ factor. She has an energy about her that lets people know that she is giving her very best. She is a dedicated leader whose integrity, honesty, and self-assurance give others the confidence they need to succeed no matter how demanding or pressing the situation. She is the ultimate professional.”

John A. Walsh

Class of 1984
Outstanding Community Service

As the saying goes, if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know. The 2009 Distinguished Alumnus for Outstanding Community Service fits the bill. A 1984 Washington State graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree in business management, he also earned a bachelor’s degree in 1986 in business management/marketing from Salem College in Salem, West Virginia, and a master’s degree in human resources in 1990 from Leslie College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He rose to the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force and served as Chief Budget Officer at Air Combat Command’s largest base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Returning to Marietta in 1996 as vice-president and chief financial officer at Proviron America, Inc., he is currently senior vice president for corporate development at Alliance Industries, Inc., a multi-affiliate, international corporation based in Marietta.

He is a man whose good works and contributions to the community are done quietly and behind the scenes. There are those who refer to him as a “Renaissance man” for his integrity, commitment, devotion to family and church, and exceptional work ethic - professionally and in community service. He has demonstrated tireless commitment and the highest moral standards in leadership roles in Rotary, as a past board member of the Colony Theatre Restoration project with which he currently serves on the Finance Committee, on the organizing committee of the first Marietta Sweet Corn Festival, as Finance Committee Chair and Administrative Board member for ten years at Wayside United Methodist Church, as an active participant in Operation Inasmuch– an ongoing community outreach program that works to rehabilitate homes for the elderly and those in need in our community, community youth projects, and the promotion and development of local musicians, music projects to benefit the community and its children, and personal kindnesses to benefit the quality of life of others.

As a musician and song writer, his lyrics convey the breadth of human emotions, the redemptive quality of self reflection, and personal authenticity. A close friend once said, “In the end, because what he says is who he is, [he] has created a legacy in which Washington State Community College can share and rightfully call its own.”