2018 Alumni Award Winners
Distinguished Alumna/us Award
The Distinguished Alumna/us Award is presented to an alumna/us who has made a significant contribution to society in his or her particular career. Basis for selection includes career advancement and related service to others, significant honors in one's field, and commitment to the College.
Reginald "Reggie" Owens Sr. '83
Owens graduated from D&E with a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology and anthropology in 1983. As a student, he was a member of the Senators basketball team and participated in camps to help youth learn more about the sport. He was also a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon and remains an active brother in the fraternity.
Owens went on to earn a Master of Science degree from Denver University and began his professional career as a youth counselor for the state of Maryland social services. Later, he transitioned to Federal Express Corporation and advanced through the ranks, serving in management posts on the East Coast, Midwest and South. As vice president/general manager of operations, air-ground and freight services, he was responsible for planning and executing the corporate strategy for the southern region, while providing service internally and externally to customers, and managing more than 6,000 associates and a budget of more than $1 billion. He was promoted to vice president of human resources with a scope of responsibility for 101,000 stateside employees and retired from that position in 2015.
He was honored for his professional achievements with the company’s highest performance recognition, the FedEx Express Five Star Award, four times. The Tri-State Defender newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, saluted Owens as one of the 2010 Men of Excellence, an award that celebrates leadership, vision, achievement and community service.
Owens was a member of the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Succession Committee and is active in many alumni functions, including panel discussions.
The Tower Award is presented to an alumna/us for outstanding commitment and service to the College and its alumni programs. This award recognizes alumni who have gone above and beyond for the College. Basis for selection includes volunteering of time, talent and/or funds in support of the numerous student and alumni programs the College offers.
Maribeth “Beth” Headley Robenolt '82
Robenolt was active in D&E organizations from the time she arrived on campus. She was a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, a Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity little sister and served as vice president of Student Association. In addition to being a resident assistant her junior and senior years, Robenolt was a member of the nationally ranked D&E field hockey team and also worked as a lifeguard and in food service for campus banquets.
Her first job after graduation was as a recruiter in the D&E Admissions Department for western Pennsylvania and New York. Later, she represented D&E at college fairs in New Jersey.
Although her career took a different direction, Robenolt continued to serve D&E on the National Alumni Council from 2006 to 2017. She held the roles of chair of the Alumni Engagement Committee, co-chair of the Alumni Regional Events Committee, vice president and president. She continues involvement with the Delaware Valley Alumni Chapter and attends numerous gatherings with the New York Metro Alumni Chapter.
Professionally, Robenolt is retired from the New Jersey Department of Human Services after working more than 31 years in various divisions including developmental disabilities, disability services and medical assistance and health services. She also was the director of several Medicaid waiver programs and developed a new office that was responsible for quality oversite of Medicaid Managed Care Organizations operating new Medicaid programs.
Outstanding Young Alumna/us
The Outstanding Young Alumna/us Award is presented to a young alumnus who graduated within the last 10 years and shows promise in his or her profession and loyalty and commitment to the College. Basis for selection includes professional achievements and honors, community service/service to others, and commitment to the College.
Kaia Kater-Hurst '16
Kater-Hurst, known professionally as Kaia Kater, is the highest-ranking Bachelor of Science graduate in the class of 2016 with a degree in religion and philosophy. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine included her among the “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know.”
Growing up in Canada, she had deep ties to folk music and began playing the banjo at age 12.
As a student, she was an inaugural member of the dance and string band Appalachian Ensemble and toured the region representing the College. Her old-time banjo-picking skills, deft arrangements and songwriting abilities landed her in the spotlight in North America and the UK, garnering critical acclaim from outlets such as NPR, CBC Radio, Rolling Stone and BBC Music.
While a student, she crafted her first EP, “Old Soul,” in 2013 and her first album, “Sorrow Bound,” in 2015. Her 2016 release, “Nine Pin,” won a Canadian Folk Music Award and sent her on an 18-month touring journey from Ireland to Iowa that included festival shows at the Sisters Folk Festival, AmericanaFest, Newport Folk Festival and Edmonton Folk Music Festival, among others.
In August, Rolling Stone again lauded Kater’s talents by including her single “New Colossus” on the 10 Best Country and Americana Songs of the Week list. Describing the song as “equal parts stoned mountain music and smart, atmospheric Americana,” the magazine recognizes Kater as “reaching far beyond her roots as an old-time banjo picker and Appalachian-influenced folksinger.” The single is the first of her new album “Grenades,” set to release in late October.