Faculty, staff, alumni, family, and friends gathered around their computer screens on Wednesday, October 28 for the virtual Young Alumni Awards Ceremony. Although the five 2020 award recipients were announced and profiled in the Summer issue of McDonogh Magazine, their commitment to community, excellence, and the future was worthy of the live, albeit virtual, recognition. Alumni Association President Joshua Thomas ‘06 served as the evening’s emcee, and Chair of the Young Alumni Committee Kimmy Hilson Carmichael ’10 and Director of Alumni Engagement Beth Sauer Hopkins ’02 presented the awards.
Alison Barzyk '14
At McDonogh, Ali Barzyk was a model student-athlete. In addition to being a Rollins-Luetkemeyer leader, she was recognized for her sportsmanship and athletic achievements. She also developed a “commitment to cause” through her work in the community with My Sister's Place, Habitat for Humanity, and Moveable Feast. Her success continued in college as a student-athlete at the University of Michigan where she majored in Communication Studies and held numerous internships. In 2018, Barzyk combined her interests in outreach, fitness, and communications as co-founder of Despite the Dark™, a Chicago non-profit that promotes women’s safety at night by organizing group runs, self- defense classes, and online conversations.
After thanking McDonogh for the opportunities that the School provided her with, as well as the generosity of scholarship donors, Barzyk said she strives to continue to make a positive impact.
Kyle Vaughan '12 and Kenneth Wayman '12
Classmates Kyle Vaughan and Kenneth Wayman entered McDonogh in Lower School, but they didn’t really connect until Upper School when they found themselves in similar circles and discovered shared interests. After they graduated from the University of Maryland (where they were roommates), they took different career paths. Wayman used his math background and an engineering degree to start a career as a software engineer; and Vaughan’s concentration in government and politics led him to a Public Policy and International Affairs program. After a few years in the work world, the two began talking about job fulfillment and the desire to do good in their lives. It was from these discussions that their venture, Greatest Possible Good, a design thinking consultancy, was conceived.
Greatest Possible Good (GPG) was established as a for-profit parent company that funds and consults on various business projects, including some of their own and those of other mission-aligned organizations. GPG also invests in other start-ups to incubate ventures focused on sustainability and the community. Wayman and Vaughan have seen great success with these collaborations and eventually hope to create an ecosystem of social entrepreneurs to pool resources and share human capital. In accepting the award,
Vaughn said that McDonogh gave him a sense of purpose and mission as well as skills and friends for life. He noted that GPG has been a vehicle to work on some inspiring projects during the pandemic. Wayman echoed his friend and business partner’s sentiments also giving credit to the School for teaching values that shaped his character.
Hannah Johnstone Mathis '09
During her 12 years at McDonogh, Hannah Johnstone Mathis learned the importance of service to others. After graduating in 2009, she attended the University of Maryland, studied Family Science and Public Health, and then began a career working with children with special needs. Eventually, she became a special education teacher in Georgia and helped to provide opportunities and access for students with vulnerabilities. Mathis’s passion doesn’t end with her professional endeavors, she dedicated herself to the therapeutic rehabilitation of Georgia's foster children as a foster parent providing care for children who have endured homelessness, violence, drugs, death, hunger, and neglect. In addition to therapy, counseling, and learning plans, she creates endless opportunities for the children in her care to experience love, concern, joy, and excitement. Caring for children with trauma histories is not an easy life, but Mathis knows helping them is the right thing to do. It has become her mission.
Mathis, who like the other recipients was humbled by the Young Alumni honor, thanked the Alumni Association, and took the opportunity to encourage others to foster children or to reach out to her to learn how to help.
Darrius Heyward-Bey '05
Anyone who follows professional football will recognize the name Darrius Heyward-Bey, but they may not realize that his football career started at McDonogh. When Heyward-Bey came to McDonogh as a freshman, it was a life-changing experience. At the time, he was considered a basketball prodigy and a track star but decided to give football a try playing for two years on JV. By his senior year, he was captain of the varsity team and was considered one of the 10 best high school football players in the country. He went on to play at the University of Maryland and was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2009. He joined the Indianapolis Colts in 2013, and a year later, became a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Today, he is a retired NFL veteran. Heyward-Bey learned more than football at McDonogh and has never forgotten the place that helped shape him. He shows his gratitude by giving back to the School in many ways not only by supporting athletics but also by contributing to the scholarship program so that others, like him, will have the opportunity to reach their potential.
After thanking the coordinators of the awards event, Heyward-Bey spoke about the importance of the McDonogh Family in his life. He said he was inspired by the other nominees and how they give back in their own personal way. Then, speaking to the faculty watching the presentation he said, “Continue to inspire your students to reach for the stars.”
Head of School Dave Farace ‘87 closed the program by congratulating the five award recipients and saying, “Speaking for everyone at McDonogh, we are proud of all that you have accomplished so early in life, and we thank you for serving as role models for McDonogh’s current and future students. We hope you continue to enjoy success and return to McDonogh to share your experiences with Eagles who may one day follow in your footsteps.”
Watch the Young Alumni Awards ceremony here.
The Young Alumni Award is presented annually to an alumnus/alumna who has graduated in the past 15 years whose achievements and contributions have positively impacted his/her profession, community, and/or McDonogh. Honorees have distinguished themselves as leaders among their peers, having excelled early in life and shown potential for continued success. The award recipients serve as outstanding young role models for current and future McDonogh students. Nominations for the 2021 recipients should be submitted here by Friday, December 4, 2020.