Congratulations to our 2014 class of Alumni Hall of Fame!
Dennis C. Chapman, Sally Draper Zoll, J. Wayne Leonard, R. Mark Beeson, Cindy Wooten Adams, Sujay Kaushal
These individuals have set themselves apart from their peers through their achievements, involvement and impact on their personal, professional, and/or local communities over a number of years. Their stories are connected with the threads of educators, colleagues, friends, family and neighbors who influenced their lives and spurred them to passions beyond themselves.
Class of 1948 | Greenfield High School
Dennis Carl Chapman
Dennis Chapman has seen a great many changes to his community and schools since he graduated from Greenfield High School as class Valedictorian in 1948. Says Dennis, “First, let’s establish that the Greenfield High School of the 1940s was dramatically different from the Greenfield-Central High School that our children knew and most certainly different than the current version. Our class of 1948 had 46 graduates and the old school on West Street was a small fraction of the current facility. But, for its time, the school offered a very good curriculum including the math and science I would need for my eventual Mechanical Engineering education.
“The school had no counselors on the staff to point us toward a higher education in something that would earn us a good living. C.O. Griffith was principal of the school and also taught mathematics. One day we were walking down the hall together and he said to me, ‘Carl you are good in science and mathematics, so you should consider engineering for a career.’ [Dennis was called “Carl” in high school] Having a lot of faith in Mr. Griffith, I accepted and acted upon that advice and I have never been sorry.
“My fifth grade teacher in Riley School was my uncle, Lowell Chapman. He eventually got his doctorate in business education and in 1946 or 47 joined the faculty of General Motors Institute (GMI), a cooperative engineering and business school in Flint, Michigan. He was very impressed with GMI [now Keetering University] and its cooperative education approach, so he made two trips back to Greenfield, partially to talk to me about choosing that school. I followed his advice and I am, to this day, a great believer in the value of cooperative education.”
After graduating with honors, Dennis put his skills to use while serving in the US Army, where he became a Staff Sargent and helped develop the control system linking the Nike Missile Air Defense Batteries protecting Washington, D.C. After his military service, he returned to his Hancock County community devoting time to family, faith, service, and the Allison Gas Turbine Division of General Motors.
During his time at Allison, Dennis was instrumental in many engineering advancements for the company. Dennis invented a patented centrifugal compressor bleed system which is still used on a wide variety of compressor applications worldwide. He received General Motor’s highest engineering award, the “Boss Keetering Award” in 1984. He also served as the program manager for a team of engineers when Allison was the lead company of five major aircraft companies for a new project – demonstrating the feasibility of an advanced propulsion system for commercial and military aircraft designed to achieve dramatic reductions in fuel consumption. This resulted in Allison sharing the 1987 Collier Trophy awarded for the greatest achievements in aeronautics or astronautics in America – an award that has also been given to Neil Armstrong and other astronauts. Dennis is now retired.
Another impactful hat Dennis has worn is that of “Community Volunteer.” Volunteering in many capacities, Dennis has served his community through his church, Kiwanis, at Hancock Regional Hospital, with Meals on Wheels, and as a board member and volunteer for the Hancock County Community Foundation. He is the recipient of the 2002 Central Indiana Senior Volunteer of the Year by the United Senior Action Foundation and CICOA, The Access Network. Dennis is fondly and respectfully admired by young and old who have had the opportunity to see him in action and benefited from his compassion and willingness to help. He and his wife Evelyn “adopted” his former teacher and 4-H leader Keith Elsbury, when at 93 years old he became a widower and could no longer see well. Through their efforts Keith was able to remain in his home a few more years before joining his daughter in Colorado. Those who have worked with him, appreciate the extra effort and time he has given to community projects. Retirement has allowed him the time he needs and wants to be able to give back to his community. Says his nominator, “Our community is fortunate to have the leadership, talents, and skills Dennis puts into action on its behalf.”
With appreciation Dennis reflects, “The Greenfield school system did an excellent job of preparing me for a productive and rewarding life and I am forever grateful. I would be remiss to not also give credit to my parents. They emphasized education and supported me in any activities that might help me grow into a responsible and caring adult. They went beyond norms to help Evelyn and I as we became an established couple. Our children also benefited immensely from the close association with their grandparents. Responsible and caring parents and an excellent school system are the cornerstones of preparing youngsters to become contributing members of society.
Dennis concludes, “Last in the credit line, although anything but least, is my bride of nearly sixty years, Evelyn. Any words I place here will be inadequate. She has given us three wonderful children, who she nurtured in so many ways into responsible and successful adults. They in turn have married well and given us six grandchildren of whom we are justifiably proud as they complete their educations and make their way into their adult life’s journey. Evelyn and I have been partners in life – sharing, learning, working, growing, making difficult decisions, enjoying, celebrating, crying. Our life together has been truly blessed.”
Class of 1968 | Greenfield High School
Sally Draper Zoll, Ed.D
Dr. Sally Zoll is the Chief Executive Officer of United Through Reading based in San Diego, California. Upon hearing she was selected for the Alumni Hall of Fame, she said, “Such wonderful memories of Greenfield! I am humbled by this honor and in awe of the other honorees!” They are also impressed with Sally’s accomplishments.
With degrees from Purdue University and the University of San Diego, Sally has specialized in education working as a teacher, professor, and in corporate management for educational organizations. Her activities and honors are significant and extensive. She reflects on the educational foundation that began in Greenfield, “I know without a doubt that the wonderful experiences that I had from Mrs. Daugherty in first grade until graduation from Greenfield High School cemented my love of education and my desire to pursue education as a career. From teaching first grade to serving as a high school administrator, from teaching college to developing educational software, from the corporate world to the nonprofit arena, I have never lost my love of education.”
Sally has provided steady leadership and talent to build a once small grassroots organization into a nationally recognized service provided to military families. Since becoming CEO of United Through Reading Sally has directed her energy to help active-duty military families during difficult separations by enabling deployed service members to stay engaged in their children’s lives by reading stories on video from ships, bases, and medical centers around the world. It is one of the top quality-of-life programs throughout the Navy and Marine Corps and is establishing a solid program base in the US Army, Reserve, National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard. More than 1.5 million military family members have benefitted.
As part of an extended military family, Sally has experienced first-hand the difficulties of life for children separated for extended periods of time from a parent. She encouraged her daughter-in-law to have her son record stories for his child prior to his mobilization to Iraq—before she knew anything about United Through Reading.
Under Sally’s leadership, United Through Reading has been honored by the White House’s Joining Forces Initiative and USO World Headquarters; approved as a pilot program at naval medical facilities; received the Navy Region Southwest Champion Award; and awarded the Innovators in Reading Prize from the National Book Foundation. Sally has been honored by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner for work in education and the military at the 2014 State of the Union Address. She has also garnered recognition with the Women Who Mean Business Award by San Diego Business Journal; the Tribute to Women & Industry Award from YWCA; and Tech Titan’s CEO of Emerging Company Award in North Texas. She has also been named Outstanding Female Entrepreneurs in the Southwest US from Springboard Enterprises and ComputerWorld Honors Program Laureate.
Likewise, Sally’s community service also centers on her passion for education. She has served as a consultant, facilitator and peer reviewer for the federal Department of Education since 1986. In addition, she has served on a number of nonprofit boards including the United States Academic Decathlon, the Coronado Schools Foundation, and the Coronado Hospital Foundation. Sally has been involved with the Intel Hurricane Education Leadership Program, providing leadership to schools impacted by the hurricanes of 2005. In 2007, she chaired the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women event hosting 800 women in Southern California for an educational day about heart health.
Returning to Greenfield as part of the Alumni Hall of Fame has sparked some nostalgia for Sally and great reflection on her upbringing in this community. “What a special, special time that was. Things were simple; parents were in charge; I came home when the street lights came on; and I don’t remember anyone bullying anyone.
“I loved going to school every single day! Starting off the morning with Mr. Greenland in Concert Choir was a joy and he was a hoot, white socks and all! And what wonderful experiences we had putting on musicals and plays. Those are fond, fond memories. He got the most out of a small cast of characters, every time. Mr. Wise and Mr. Harpring made math come alive for me. They always had time, patience, and kind words. And they loved math! How lucky to have been touched by that passion.
“I thank Mrs. Hayes everyday for being able to keyboard as opposed to hunt and peck! Who knew that the skills learned in her typing class would be used endlessly, day-in, day-out in 2014? And God bless Ms. Gray for thinking she could get one iota of athletic ‘anything’ out of this extremely un-athletic person!”
Expressing the importance of her time in this community, Sally states, “I have been exceptionally blessed in friends, family, and career since my childhood in Greenfield and I know it isn’t an accident. The solid, grounded foundation I received in this middle-America small town gave me a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, and an understanding that, having been given so much, I must give back. Above all else, I am eternally grateful to my parents, Mel and Odetta Draper, who would be over the moon knowing I was receiving this honor and to my husband, Jimmie Zoll, who has a burning passion for education and has continually encouraged me to think and act outside the box.”
Class of 1969 | Greenfield High School
J. Wayne Leonard
As the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Entergy Corporation in New Orleans, Louisiana, Wayne Leonard saw the need to lead by example in combating environmental and climate change issues, as well as working for a better society.
With degrees from Ball State University and Indiana University, Wayne took his accounting and political science expertise along with his compassion for others and concern for the environment to the upper echelons of the corporate energy world. He began with PSI Energy, moving up the corporate ladder, and continued as Chief Financial Officer of Midwest based Cinergy before taking the reins at Entergy, an owner of 13 nuclear power plants and one of the nation’s largest power companies. Says his nominator, “Wayne has proven that hard work and dedication can take you to the highest levels of your profession.” Under Wayne’s leadership, in 2001 Entergy (the only Fortune 500 company in New Orleans) became the first utility in the U.S. to commit to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Entergy performed 12.6 percent better than its goal. He also led the adoption of a comprehensive 10-year environmental strategy to manage climate risks, accelerate clean energy generation and increase energy efficiency.
When he was named CEO of Entergy in 1999, Wayne also began calling business, community and political leaders to break the cycle of poverty that has stunted economic growth in the mid-South region of the US for generations. A Congressional resolution honoring him said, in part, “Over the course of those years, his visionary leadership as Entergy’s top executive also encompassed impassioned advocacy for issues such as climate change, poverty and social justice. To a great extent, his compassion for people from all walks of life and his desire to protect the environment for future generations came to define his tenure at Entergy. …Leonard pioneered the pursuit of sustainability within his industry. Early on, he recognized the importance to the industry’s future of operating in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable manner. …After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Leonard led the restoration not just of a company but also a city and its surrounding region.” Outside of his office was a gallery of haunting photos of the poor and downtrodden he called the Poverty Wall. Says Wayne, “It reminded me, every day, this is what we do.”
During Leonard’s tenure, the company donated more than $50 million to charitable initiatives and advocacy efforts, successfully helping move low-income residents toward self-sufficiency. Campaigns to improve early childhood education programs and financial support of a matched-savings program have helped 19,000 people and created an economic impact of $69 million over the last 10 years. He has been recognized for his efforts to provide affordable energy to low income and poverty stricken areas. In retirement, he continues to dedicate his time and energy to these important causes.
Upon Wayne’s retirement, Entergy Corporation said in its Annual Report,“Courage, Wisdom, Honesty, Commitment, Inspiration, Compassion, Kindness. These are the words colleagues and employees use to describe Wayne Leonard. Throughout his nearly 40-year career, Wayne was a mentor, leader, visionary, defender of the disenfranchised, and a friend. He led by example and held us to the highest standards; to do what’s right, watch out for each other and watch out for our fellow man.”
Likewise, the 15,000 employees of the company took out a full-page newspaper ad on the day of his retirement, saying, “You inspired and energized us. You taught us that tremendous achievements can take place when we all pull together for a common goal. And you reminded us of the importance of caring. …Your belief in each of us to do what is right for the company, our neighbors and our families has taken our lives and our communities to a higher level. You stood with us through tough times and – with efforts behind words, and actions behind well-laid plans – taught us that dedication, hard work and compassion really do make a difference.”
Entergy Corporation created the J. Wayne Leonard Poverty, Climate Change and Social Justice Fund to honor Wayne when he retired and continue his work on creating a better society. Through the endowment Wayne hopes to fund research or demonstration projects in partnership with other groups. The duty to take care of the planet is common sense, as Wayne once said, “Sustainability is a five-dollar word for an idea many of us learned in scouting – leave the place better than you found it. It’s as simple as that.”
Wayne remembers his time in Greenfield fondly, and in particular, the influence of his teachers in both Science and Mathematics, for the encouragement they gave him not to settle for less than realizing his full potential. He cited his cross country and track coaches for instilling the need to prepare, prepare, prepare. He extends his gratitude (and surprise) for this recognition by the Foundation. Those Greenfield roots, where Wayne grew up in a family of five siblings, helped establish his drive to do well and to do good. His cross country teammates, who recently got together for a brief reunion, still share a bond that has crossed the years and distance. His teammate recalls Wayne sharing how much running meant to him. It was all about the team and supporting each other. He felt that those days in cross country and track made him the ‘never give in person’ he is today.”
The drive and a vision for a better society helped Wayne develop a reputation as a chief executive with a conscience. Wayne received awards never given to corporate CEOs by organizations such as the EPA, World Wildlife Federation and the Community Action Partnerships of America. He is the only person in anyone’s memory to have op-eds published in both the world newspapers; the “Liberal” New York Times, and the “Conservative” Wall Street Journal on the same subject. Among his numerous recognitions for contributions to business, the environment, and society are the US EPA Climate Leadership Award; National Wildlife Federation Achievement Award; Platts Global Energy Award—CEO of the Year in 2003 and a finalist for 11 consecutive years; BSU College of Business Hall of Fame in 2002; Georgetown University’s 2003 Business Leader of the Year, an honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from BSU, Anti-Defamation League Torch of Liberty Award, New Orleans CityBusiness “Driving Forces” honoree, and many others.
Also among Wayne’s interests have been his work with the National WW II Museum Foundation and United Way of Greater New Orleans. Wayne extends his special thanks to his wife, Jackie, and their three daughters, Dr. Allison Leonard Hildebrand, Rachel Lytell, and Rebecca Leonard for their support during dark times when only their unconditional love mattered.
Class of 1972 | Greenfield-Central High School
Dr. R. Mark Beeson
Identified as a visionary leader and gifted communicator, Mark Beeson is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana. In 1986, Mark and his wife, Sheila, planted the seeds of Granger Community Church (GCC) in their living room, with fewer than ten people. Their dream was to reach out to those who weren’t currently attending church for whatever reason and share the truth that they mattered to God. Now, 27 years later, GCC has over 5,000 people gathering across three regional campuses, a prison re-entry center, a downtown community center and more than 1,500 gathering weekly online from all over the world. GCC has been named (#2) by Outreach Magazine as one of America’s Most Innovative Churches. Mark participates in and spurs the church membership to community service locally and globally.
In 2013, Mark received the 2103 Distinguished Evangelist honor from the United Methodist Church, a significant recognition and great honor. He motivates and encourages church planters and leaders with new vision and purpose in fulfilling the Great Commission and is in demand to train clergy and laity. He participates in The Leading Edge, a movement to promote denominational unity and growth.
Mark has been uniquely positioned to serve the wider church bringing help and encouragement to pastors around the country as well. A regular speaker, he was the keynote speaker at a Purpose Driven Church Conference in California for over 4,500 global pastors. Additionally, he has been deeply involved with youth, through the United Methodist camping ministry and the Granger Student Ministry programs.
Mark has also been esteemed for his leadership, commitment and accomplishments by nationally recognized individuals including Dr. John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, and Dr. Rick Warren (The Purpose-Driven Life) who says, “Granger Community Church is the best example of a purpose-driven church in the country. And Mark Beeson is a phenomenal communicator and leader.”
After graduating from Greenfield-Central Mark received degrees from Ball State University, Christian Theological Seminary, and United Theological Seminary.
When Mark learned of his inclusion in the 2014 GC Alumni Hall of Fame class and received a request for his memories, he shared a few thoughts:
“Nobody is born with a beard.
“Learning to wisely leverage your knowledge against rapidly changing circumstances, challenging relationships and contrarian geopolitical difficulties takes time, and apparently, enough time has passed since I graduated from Greenfield-Central High School for some very thoughtful people to note that I’ve tried to ‘wisely’ apply what I learned in school to some of the big problems facing the world. After years of building on the facts and friendships I relished in high school, I’m being inducted into the GC Alumni Hall of Fame.
“I humbly offer this brief synopsis of a few high school highlights, and snippets of the life-giving wisdom I found in Greenfield-Central’s world of academia.
– I studied the laws of physics but I wisely embraced the truth, ‘an object in motion tends to stay in motion,’ when my friend Kenny Brooks ran over me during football practice.
– I learned there’s more to art than memorizing the Primary Colors. When Mrs. Demegret told me I’d been asked to paint the Cougar on the center of the gymnasium floor, and on the wall of the school’s pool, I knew there was more to being an artist than knowing, ‘Mixing Red and Blue creates Purple.’
– In class I learned the Muscular System was responsible for movement, but I was practicing with the Swimming Team beside John Wantz when I realized some folks have “fast-twitch” muscle fiber and I don’t.
– When I entered High School 1+1 totaled 2. True enough, but I dated Sheila McNichols in ’72 and married her in ’76. Now 1+1 equals the 2 of us, plus our 3 children and their 3 spouses, plus 5 grandchildren.
– Mr. Bishop had a lot to say about the US Constitution and social responsibility, but the meaning of citizenship took root in my life when I wisely registered for the Draft.
– I learned a lot while serving on Greenfield-Central’s Brain Bowl Team with my friends: Susie O’Brien, Bobby Beeson and Philip Gould. I learned a zillion people are smarter than me, but I can make a real contribution if I have a great attitude, pay attention, work hard, and keep this simple motto in mind: ‘Quit last.’
– I served as the captain of many teams and the president of many groups, but I don’t recall being elected to lead anything because I was the smartest, fastest, strongest or most skilled. Those attributes are wonderful, but people benefit from leaders who work hard, demonstrate a great attitude, advance a clear vision, lead by example, and engage the Mission with enthusiasm. We lead best the teams designed to produce the outcomes we desire most.
“Looking back on my personal journals, I also gleaned these simple Life Lessons from my days at Greenfield-Central High School:
– Life is short.
– It’s a good idea to avoid people who lie and cheat.
– Hard work increases your possibility of success.
– Every step takes you somewhere.
– It’s best to love fiercely and hold loosely.
– Always give honor where honor is due.
– Nothing is innocent.
– You must play hurt every day of your life.
“As I was preparing my commencement speech after my classmates elected me to be the Class Speaker, my mother wisely said, ‘Mark, always stop while people want you to continue. Don’t keep talking until your audience can’t wait for you to finally finish. Remember. The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure.’
“I am grateful for my time at Greenfield-Central and humbled by my induction into The GC Alumni Hall of Fame.”
Class of 1979 | Greenfield-Central High School
Cindy Wooten Adams, Ph.D, ANP-BC, RN
A leader in her profession and community, Cindy Adams is dedicated to the medical field and has a great passion for caring for others. She is a certified adult nurse practitioner and has been promoted to various leadership positions. She says, “Greenfield-Central schools gave me a strong and confident start to a very productive academic journey through three college degrees and 30+ years of a rich and wonderful career.”
She currently serves as Chief Nursing Officer for Community Health Network in Indianapolis, where her focus is directed toward innovative approaches to nursing education and practice, building a future ready nursing workforce, strategic positioning of advanced practice nursing roles, and meeting the challenges associated with improving patient outcomes while reducing cost of health care.
Says her nominator, “Cindy is compassionate, patient, intelligent, humble, accomplished, a life-long learner, dedicated, motivated, and the kindest person I know. Her record speaks for itself. She is one of those rare people who strives to make her profession and the world a better place, leading by example.”
Prior to her current role, Cindy practiced as a nurse practitioner for 16 years, held positions at various levels of management, and served as Network Director for Nursing Research, as well as Chief Nurse Executive for The Indiana Heart Hospital. Cindy has dedicated herself through those admirable qualities noted by her nominator to gain a great deal of experience and expertise, which she richly shares with others. Her clinical expertise includes cardiovascular prevention and disease management, critical and emergency care, clinical research, multidisciplinary disease management program design and implementation.
Additionally, Cindy has published and presented abstracts and papers nationally in the areas of heart failure management, multidisciplinary team approach to disease management, and advanced practice roles in nursing. She is a national speaker on nursing issues. Among other honors, she earned the 2006 American Heart Association/Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association Excellence in Clinical Practice Award and is Ball State University’s 2014 School of Nursing Outstanding Alumni.
Cindy is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and serves on their regional Board of Directors. Other Board appointments include the Indiana Center for Nursing, and the Advisory Board for the Indiana State Office of Women’s Health. Her organizational affiliations have included the American Organization of Nurse Executives, Indiana Organization of Nurse Executives, American Nurses Association, Indiana State Nurses Association, and the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and Sigma Theta Tau International.
Cindy has also been active in numerous community activities including Cheri Daniels’ Heart to Heart Program and United Way’s Read Up Readers program.
Cindy received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Ball State University and Master of Science in Nursing from Indiana University School of Nursing. A few years later she received her board certification as an Adult Nurse Practitioner. She completed her Ph.D. in Nursing at Indiana University in 2007 with a minor in Health Economics.
Cindy reflects, “Some of my favorite high school memories include:
– Meeting my high school sweetheart (now husband of 31 years) David Adams in Mr. Cline’s freshman home room.
– Declining the nomination for student council elections in freshman homeroom because I was afraid to fail. It reminds me that I have made some progress through the years!
– Mr. Buddy Busby’s sophomore World History class.
– Mr. Tillman Smith’s Chemistry class. I enjoyed the class and loved him as a teacher, but I didn’t fully appreciate the value until I got into Freshman Chemistry in college where fellow students were dropping like flies and it was all review for me.
– Playing the piano to accompany the Choir under the direction of Mr. Charlie Wright…most specifically “The Messiah,” the first production of what was to become the annual Madrigal Dinner, and the time the lights went down before I finished the last note, after which I proceeded to play about every note EXCEPT for the right one!
– Playing guitar while singing a song I wrote in the choir concert – YIKES!!! I still can’t believe I did that – why didn’t anyone tell me I can’t sing!!!
– Being honored as both Homecoming Queen and Prom Queen (before that was ‘illegal’)…by which I am still humbled all these years later.
– Having perfect attendance all four years, and then staying home on senior skip day…. Will I get in trouble for that?”
As she remembers the foundation she received at G-CHS, Cindy notes that her family’s lives have also benefited from that same background. “My husband David, also a G-CHS graduate, enjoyed several years of employment at Greenfield-Central teaching and coaching at the Junior High School, and as an Assistant Principal at the High School. David is now the Superintendent at Shelby Central Schools in Shelbyville, Indiana. We are the proud parents of Tyler and Cortney, both G-CHS graduates, and Purdue/IU graduates respectively. Tyler and his wife Karly (Reel, also a G-CHS graduate) gave us our grandson, Jackson who is now a 20-month-old and a little ray of sunshine.
“So, you can see that our family is deeply rooted in Greenfield-Central Schools, for which I will always have a special place in my heart. I cannot thank you enough for this tremendous honor. I am humbled and deeply touched.”
Class of 1993 | Greenfield-Central High School
Dr. Sujay S. Kaushal
An associate professor at the University of Maryland in the Department of Geology and Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, Sujay Kaushal says he feels, “very fortunate to have been educated in Greenfield and it is wonderful that your organization is working towards the success and welfare of the next generation of G-CHS students.”
After completing his G-CHS education, Sujay received a BA from Cornell University and a PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He completed his postdoctoral work at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and then began as an assistant professor in the University System of Maryland. As an associate professor, Kaushal is an author of over 50 articles in the field of water quality and water resources, garnering significant attention both in the research community and in the media. He has been an advisor and teacher for numerous graduate students, postdoctoral research associates, and undergraduates over the past decade.
Says Sujay, “I have always been interested in streams and rivers since my childhood. We had a small stream in our backyard, and I spent a lot of time outside exploring it. It wasn’t until college that I learned that you could spend your life exploring streams and rivers professionally as a scientist/professor.”
Most of Sujay’s research, along with colleagues, has focused on understanding long-term changes in water quality in streams and rivers due to climate and land use change and acid rain. He and his colleagues have worked towards better informing strategies for effective management of water resources at municipal, regional, and national scales.
Sujay has received several awards and distinctions from international societies, academic journals, government agencies, and the University of Maryland. His research (along with colleagues) regarding the salinization and alkalinization of fresh water has been covered in the New York Times, National Public Radio, US News and World Report, Scientific American, Dan Rather Reports, and other popular media outlets.
Not surprisingly, Sujay was honored in 2012 and 2014 with the Junior Faculty Award by the University of Maryland. He was also the recipient of the 2013 International Recognition of Professional Excellence (IRPE) Prize by the Inter-Research Science Center. The award honors a young ecologist under the age of 40 who has published uniquely independent, original, and/or challenging research representing an important scientific breakthrough, and/or who must work under particularly difficult conditions. It was noted that, “Sujay Kaushal has produced work of an important and distinctive character and has established himself in the field of freshwater biogeochemistry…. He is adept as a communicator across a range of the physical, natural, and social sciences and is well fitted to emerge as a leader in the task of defining important environmental problems and facilitating their solutions.”
Sujay has also participated in a variety of community services activities related to his expertise, including an educational video for middle school aged students produced by the American Museum of Natural History called “Ecology Interrupted.”He has been a panelist and speaker at numerous workshops, conferences and events, and he has served on multiple steering committees for environmental issues.
Sujay’s nominator shares, “Sujay is a brilliant scientist with a deep passion for the environment. To best explain the depth of his passion for water quality, I will reference the NPR interview from September 2013. In the interview, Sujay tries to persuade the journalist to witness stream chemistry in action by joining him in a trek up an urban stream to see where a sewage spill has occurred that just might be emitting toxic fumes.” The nominator also notes Sujay’s humble nature and says. “I’m sure this nomination only covers a fraction of the myriad of ways he exemplifies the characteristics of an outstanding G-CHS Alumni.”
Sujay credits his teachers, colleagues, and family for any accomplishments. “In particular, I have fond memories and gratitude for my teachers and education at Greenfield-Central High School. My father passed away early in life, and my teachers in the Greenfield school system played a major role in my academic training and mentorship. For example, Mr. Otis Busby served as an important coach and mentor and taught me the value of hard work, goals, competitive spirit, and team work. Mrs. Mary Parido taught me how to write and think critically, and she also inspired an interest in German language and culture (I later received a fellowship to work in Berlin at the Leibniz Institute and received the IRPE prize from the Inter-Research Science Center in Germany). Finally, Mr. Tilman Smith inspired a strong interest in chemistry and my attempts to pass on Mr. Smith’s enthusiasm/knowledge while teaching students about the chemistry of rivers, lakes, and estuaries. There are many other teachers that deeply impacted me throughout school and are worthy of acknowledgement.”
Sujay’s advice to encourage future students of Greenfield-Central High School includes, “Always think ‘big’ and aim high. Work hard towards clearly defined goals. Even if you don’t always reach your goal, you will likely be in a better place than when you started. Second, strong perseverance and the desire to keep going are critical in almost every aspect of life (both personal and professional) and can outpace an abundance of abilities and/or resources. Many things are possible in your life over the long run, and you just have to keep at it and be steady minded in both failures and successes.”