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Copper Dome dinner honors the outstanding pieces of SEMO
When SEMO alumni Kweku Arkoful, Cantrell Andrews, Wyky Jean and Aaron Adeoye started the Honorable Young Men's Club at Cape Girardeau Public Schools years ago, they could only hope for the impact it would have. Now, years later as they plan to expand their reach across the country and hopefully to Africa by 2022, they remember where the club started and how it grew to help those in Cape Girardeau.
“We were four Black men that heard the statistics and everything with the at-risk youth, attendance down and suspensions up. Basically, [the students] just didn't have a chance,” Arkoful said. “They didn't have a male figure that looked like them to look up to, that could give them guidance and that affirmation for them to be the young man growing into young adults that they could be.”
The men received the Distinguished Service Award and were among other alumni recognized at the 2021 Cooper Dome Society's Alumni Award Dinner on Oct 29.
The Copper Dome Society and Alumni Award Dinner is a way for Southeast to bring together alumni and donors during homecoming festivities and is a place for alumni to gather with those they might not see on a regular basis. Awards are given out recognizing alumni of the university. Director of alumni relations George Gassier put this dinner together.
“The Copper Dome dinner is a great opportunity for university advancement and the Alumni Association to bring together a lot of our alumni donors and honor those who are really outstanding among our alumni community,” Gassier said.
The university recognized alumni through the Faculty Merit Award, Alumni Merit Award, Distinguished Service Award, Friends of the University Award and the Distinguished Young Alumni Award for 2021.
Along with the award recipients of 2021, the 2020 recipients were also honored after the cancellation of the dinner last year. The 2020 recipients were honored last year through a virtual event.
Professor of history and anthropology Steven Hoffman was awarded the Faculty Merit Award, recognizing his community engagement.
“I would guess that those kinds of activities are kind of working with that alumni connection and really trying to make the experience for students authentic and sort of rounded in real experiences,” Hoffman said.
The Alumni Merit award was awarded to four recipients: Thomas Meyer, class of 1975, Janet Brunton Ruopp, class of 1972, Patrick Ruopp, class of 1976, and Scott Giles, class of 1994.
The Alumni Merit Award is presented to Southeast alumni who have distinguished themselves in the University.
The Friends of the University Award was awarded to Dwain and Susan Hahs. Dwain is the mayor of Jackson, Mo., and a 1974 graduate from SEMO.
The Hahs family has been involved in helping Southeast students through the two scholarships that they give, the Dwain and Susan Hahs Endowed Scholarship and the Dwain and Susan Hahs International Studies Fund.
Dr. Timothy Wencewicz was awarded the Distinguished Young Alumni Award for 2021. He was in the class of 2006 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and applied mathematics. This award is presented to alumni under the age of 37.
Wencewicz’s research is focused on antibiotic drug discovery to address the global antibiotic resistance crisis.