Seven outstanding men and women were recognized by Grace College and Seminary during at its annual Homecoming and Family Weekend Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Alumni awards are given to Grace graduates and honorary graduates who embody Grace’s mission to serve the world effectively and compassionately for the glory of God.
Phyllis Marwah, Hong Kong, received the Alumni of the Year Award. After graduating in 1969, Marwah traveled to Hong Kong for a field study and saw firsthand the desperate conditions of pregnant young women abandoned by their families. In response, Marwah co-founded Mother’s Choice in 1987 to serve children who need permanent homes and single girls who face crisis pregnancies. Since 1987, her organization has helped more than 51,000 single girls, cared for 3,600 babies, and assisted in 1,400 successful adoptions. Not only that, Marwah’s work has inspired similar organizations in other countries including China, India, and Cambodia.
“Phyllis is the perfect archetype of Grace College,” says Cindy Sisson, vice president of enrollment management and marketing at Grace. “She has surrendered her life to God and He has done unimaginable things through her.”
The Alumni of the Year Award is given to an alumnus who has enhanced the mission, reputation or morale of Grace College & Seminary and represents the school with professionalism, enthusiasm, and dedication.
Jon Allan, New York City, received the Young Alumni of the Year Award. Allan graduated summa cum laude from Grace in 2012 with a bachelor’s in business administration and marketing. He went on to earn his law degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, graduating No. 1 in his class. Allan became a corporate attorney at the New York offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP one year ago. Kirkland & Ellis represents global clients in investment funds, restructuring, and intellectual property matters, and is ranked a top-tier firm in the world according to Chambers & Partners.
Jon is married to Danielle and is the son of Dan and Holly Allan of Ashland, Ohio. “Jon felt called by God early on to impact leaders at the ‘big leagues’ level,” says Allan’s dad, Dan, who is currently a member of the Grace board of trustees. “God used Grace to prepare Jon and place him just where He wanted him.”
The Young Alumni of the Year Award is given to a graduate who has made significant contributions to society and/or professional advancements in their career within ten years of their graduation.
Jerry Abbitt, Phoenix, Ariz., received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Abbitt graduated from Grace in 1984 with degrees in business administration and history. He went on to work in the Grace Development Department, where he contributed to foundational research and database management for fundraising and alumni relations efforts. In 1987, Abbitt moved to Phoenix to continue his career and now works as a RVP/investment advisor for Primerica/PFS Investments. He currently serves as president of the Grace College Alumni Advisory Council and co-led the creation of the Alumni Endowed Scholarship. “I am so thankful for Jerry’s commitment to use his gifts to serve Grace,” said Director of Alumni Engagement Denny Duncan. “His passion for Grace and its mission is infectious, and he has been instrumental in our work.”
“I am so thankful for Jerry’s commitment to use his gifts to serve Grace,” said Denny Duncan, director of alumni engagement. “His passion for Grace and its mission is infectious, and he has been instrumental in our work.”
The Alumni Distinguished Service Award is given to an alumnus who has exhibited Christian leadership and extraordinary service to the increased welfare of Grace College and Seminary.
Dick and Sandy Allen, Fort Wayne, Ind., received the Honorary Alumni of the Year Award. The couple moved to Warsaw, Ind., in 1999 to manage two of their many Arby’s restaurants in northeast Indiana. Since then, the Allens have supported Grace through generous donations.
“We’ve been so impressed by how the Grace leadership has stewarded our money for the benefit of the mission and in a forward-thinking, strategic way,” said Sandy Allen. “We’ve tried to wisely manage what God has entrusted to us, and we see Grace doing the same thing.”
The Westminster renovation, construction of Indiana Hall, the Grace Fund, and numerous student campaigns are beneficiaries of the Allens’ generosity. The Allens personify the mission of Grace, says Dr. Katip. “Character, competence, and service are hallmarks of Dick and Sandy’s lives,” he remarked. “They share a passion for young people and for excellence and affordability in higher education.”
The Honorary Alumni of the Year Award is given to non-alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to the mission of Grace and genuine interest in the cause of Christian higher education by and through Grace College.
Dr. Steve and Jennifer Hollar of Warsaw received the newly established Parent Distinguished Service Award. The Hollars have served Grace in numerous ways since their daughter, Meredith, now a senior, arrived on campus. Jennifer was instrumental in launching the Parent Council in 2015 and currently serves as a member.
“Jennifer’s enthusiasm to communicate effectively with parents has served our campus significantly,” said Aaron Crabtree, dean of students. She also serves on the campaign cabinet and was recently elected to the Grace Board of Trustees for the 2016-19 term.
Likewise, Steve is a prominent figure in the community. He is a dentist at Dental Health PC, served two years as president of the Indiana State Board of Dentistry, and is a partner with Grace’s Applied Learning program. Since 2011, Dr. Hollar has supervised Grace students seeking to get hands-on job experience.
“From the beginning of the program, Steve wanted to use his office to help our students clarify their passions and determine God’s calling in their lives,” said Randy Polston, director of applied learning at Grace College.
The Parent Distinguished Service Award is given in recognition of parents of a Grace student who have exhibited extraordinary service to the increased welfare of Grace.