The East Tennessee State University National Alumni Association presented its 2017 Alumni Awards on Friday, May 5, during the association’s Awards Banquet and Annual Meeting held as part of the university’s spring commencement weekend.
Included in the awards were Johnson City natives Bill Derby and Pete Peterson. Derby, publisher of the Johnson City News & Neighbor and The Business Journal of Tri-Cities TN/VA, received an Award of Honor and graduated in the class of 1972.
Peterson, current Johnson City City Manager, was honored as the Distinguished Alumnus in Public Service. Peterson earned his bachelor’s degree in construction engineering technology from ETSU in 1987 and began his career with the city of Johnson City in 1991 as a development specialist. He has served as the city manager since 2005.
Tammy Hawes (Class of 1983), a native of Mississippi, was honored as the Outstanding Alumna, while Col .Tracy G. Trott was given the Outstanding Alumnus award. Hawes earned her B.S. degree in computer science and held numerous roles in health care industry technology.
Hawes created her own company, Virsys12, in 2011, helping non-profits in adapting Salesforce.com technology for their specific needs at no cost to them. The firm specializes in health care transformation and workflow automation through technology.
Trott grew up in Maine but came to ETSU with his best friend, whose father was from Jonesborough. He earned an associate degree in law enforcement in 1976, followed by a B.S. in criminal justice in 1979 and an M.S. in criminology in 1995. Trott has been highly decorated throughout his career. He was twice named as one of the top 10 troopers in DUI enforcement in Tennessee, and the Tennessee Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving also honored him for his efforts in reducing impaired driving.
Others honored in the ceremony for Awards of Honor include:
Yahrasiel Davis Colbert graduated from high school in Germany, where her mother served in the U.S. Army, and came to ETSU in 1995 as a young single mother to participate in track and field after winning the triple jump in the European Championship.
Major (Ret.) Jodi Sluss Tekell, a native of Maryville, began her career with the U.S. Army through the ROTC program at ETSU. She graduated in 1983 and commissioned a second lieutenant before becoming an Army helicopter pilot and flight instructor. Tekell held numerous positions while serving at bases in Georgia, Alabama, Texas and South Korea. She attained the rank of major and served as aviation safety officer and deputy inspector general.
Martha Campbell Williams grew up near the East Tennessee State College campus and attended University School, then called the “Training School.” After graduating from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, she married and moved to Washington, D.C., where she spent four years teaching junior high mathematics. When her son was born, the family moved back to Johnson City and she began her graduate work at ETSU, earning an M.S. degree in mathematics in 1978.
Williams worked for Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin and was later recruited by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to inspect nuclear material accounting and control systems at nuclear fuel manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. She was later to serve as an expert with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Department of Nuclear Security. She has presented numerous lectures around the world.