Alumni Weekend will take place from Friday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2. As a part of the celebrations, five alumni from Hope will be honored. Rev. Dr. Carol Bechtel (’81), Dr. Robert Donia (’67), and Dean Overman (’65) will all receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, and Jalaa’ Abdelwahab (’97) and John Conlon (’97) will receive the Young Alumni Award.
Bechtel is a professor at Western Theological Seminary. She is currently the moderator of the General Synod Council of the Reformed Church of America and was the first woman ordained in the Classis of Illinois. She has authored several books that are available in the Beardslee Library at Western Theological Seminary. Many of her articles can also be found on ATLAReligion.
Donia has had an interest in the former Yugoslavia and current Bosnia and Herzegovina since his time at Hope. He has written multiple books and articles on the peoples of that area in addition to providing historical and cultural training for U.S. military peacekeeping troops prior to deployment in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. He also testified as an expert historical witness at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague which included the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodon Milosevic.
Overman served in the White House under the Ford administration as a White House Fellow for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and as an associate director for policy review. He was also a partner in the law firm D’Anona, Pflaum, Wyatt & Riskind and a senior partner with Winston & Strawn. Van Wylen Library has three of his books: A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization, A Case for the Existence of God, and his most recent release, A Case for the Divinity of Jesus: Examining the Earliest Evidence. Reviews of these books and articles written by Overman can be found at OneFile PowerSearch.
Abdelwahab has done work globally towards the eradication of polio. Since 2000 he has worked with the Center of Disease Control and Prevention towards this goal and in 2009 was seconded to the United Nations Children’s Fund headquarters in New York as a Health Specialist focusing on vaccination against polio in parts of the Middle East and Africa. He has had multiple articles on polio and other health issues published.
Conlon is the varsity boys’ and girls’ soccer coach at East Kentwood High School. He is currently the president of the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association. In 2007, Conlon was named Michigan High School Soccer Coach of the Year, National High School Soccer Coach of the Year, and led his boys’ soccer team to the 2007 Division I state championship. In 2008 his team repeated as Division I state champs and he was again named Michigan High School Soccer Coach of the Year. NewsBank and mlive.com have many newspaper articles featuring Conlon’s teams and achievements.
Don’t hesitate to ask a librarian if you would like help finding additional resources by or about these distinguished alumni.
— Bethany Stripp, Library Student Blogger