Homecoming Alumni Awards
We’re blessed with so many deserving alumni. We prayerfully and thoughtfully consider a variety of factors when selecting recipients each year, knowing that these people represent so many of you who lead lives of service and give back to your communities. Meet our honorees for 2018 and watch the video of their reflections.
Howard Kootstra ’76 Alumnus of the Year
Howard established Golden Empire Mortgage (GEM) in Bakersfield, Calif., and built it into a successful business with more than 700 employees. He serves as CEO and believes all consumers deserve access to credit. The values-driven company focuses on people and building lasting customer relationship. With 35 years of experience in lending, he has worked in variety of positions and learned every aspect of the mortgage industry, including retail branch operations, underwriting, business development, human resources and corporate administration. Howard serves on the Westmont Board of Advisors and belongs to the Wallace Emerson Society. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, he is the parent of two Westmont graduates who proudly carry on the Westmont tradition.
Shauna Niequist '98 Alumna of the Year
A blogger, public speaker and a five-time New York Times bestselling author, Shauna has written five books, including “Cold Tangerines,” “Bittersweet,” “Bread & Wine, Savor,” and “Present Over Perfect.” On her daytime series, SuperSoul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Shauna about faith and perfectionism. Shauna’s interview-style podcasts feature personal conversations with writers, thinkers and leaders about life, relationships, purpose, family and faith. Her podcast debuted at No. 1 in Religion and Spirituality and in the top 75 of all podcasts. Shauna and her husband, Aaron, have moved to New York City with their sons, Henry and Mac, after living in Chicago for many years. Shauna describes herself as a bookworm, a beach bum, and a passionate gatherer of people, especially around the table. Read about her Homecoming chapel talk.
David Dettoni ‘88 Global Service Award
David seeks to help residents of Sudan and South Sudan as director of operations for Sudan Relief Fund and managing director of Transatlantische Stiftung fur Afrika (TSA), a German-based organization created to promote transatlantic relations and assist people in Africa. Previously, he worked as director of operations and outreach at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which Congress created to advise the president and the Congress on policies promoting international religious freedom. Before joining USCIRF, David served as a senior legislative assistant to Representative Frank R. Wolf, assisting him in foreign policy, national security and global human rights initiatives. He was the co-staff director of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Prior to his position on Capitol Hill, he worked on staff at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church with graduate and undergraduate university students. David majored in philosophy at Westmont and earned a master’s degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is married and has two children, and they all live in Germany.
Alana Woodin ’10 Young Alumni Award
Alana graduated Summa Cum Laude in an accelerated three-year track with a degree in history and served as co-director of Potter’s Clay. She earned her teaching credential at Lincoln International School in Costa Rica through Westmont. Prayerfully, she decided to continue her investment in Latin America by teaching at Colegio Americano de Torreon (American College of Torreon) in Torreon, Mexico. She spent three years helping students achieve high standards of education, coordinating student counsel and advising the Model United Nations. She received the Teacher of the Year award. In fall 2013, Alana attended the Iris Harvest School of Ministry in Mozambique, Africa, a multinational school of ministry and missions that emphasizes community transformation. She returned to her hometown near Fresno and has spent the last four years teaching at Orange Cove High School, where she helps implement the Advancement Via Individual Determination program (AVID), assisting underprivileged students gain academic skills and prepare for college admission and perseverance. She received the Orange Cove Educator of the Year award with congressional accolades.