Colby Community College announced the names of five individuals who are joining the CCC Alumni Hall of Fame in 2021. This year's class includes former instructor Pat Erickson, former administrator and current fundraiser and philanthropist Bob Hartsook, All-American runners Sara Wells Lee and Edward Limo, and musician and Mark Schultz.
A public reception is scheduled from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Colby Event Center. A brief plaque presentation will be held later in the day before the men's basketball game. Four of the five inductees indicated they would attend the reception. Schultz will be traveling from the west coast for his concert at the Colby Event Center on Dec. 5.
The Alumni Hall of Fame was established in 2012. Each year a committee selects individuals or couples who have made a substantial contribution to the college through personal time, effort and interest, or have contributed in a significant way to the lives of others after being part of Colby Community College. Previous inductees are listed on the college website at www.colbycc.edu/hof.
Hired in 1989, Pat Erickson served as the director of CCC's physical therapist assistant program. She attempted to retire in 2016 but would stay on until 2020 to help with the transition of a new director.
"I am so honored to have my work and passion for the college recognized in this way," she said.
Erickson had ties to the area before becoming a faculty member. She was the director of physical therapy at the Graham Co. Hospital in Hill City before moving to Colby. As a staff physical therapist and then director of physical therapy at the Thomas County Hospital, she also contracted with the Northwest Kansas Educational Service Center and nursing homes in Hoxie and Atwood.
In 1978, she went on a blind date with CCC alumnus Alan Erickson. They married two years later in Pat's hometown of Mayetta, Kan., and stayed in Colby until 1981.
Opportunities took the couple to Denver, Colo., where for the next eight years, Pat was the director of physical therapy at Regency Rehabilitation Center and a staff PT at Creative Home Health and Levy and Associates outpatient clinic.
They returned to Colby when she accepted the teaching position at CCC. Over the years, she gained the respect of her peers and twice earned the Colby Community College Tangeman Award for Teaching Excellence. She also was selected to receive the Kansas Council for Workforce Education's Excellence in Teaching Award, the Kansas Physical Therapy Association Award for Academic Excellence, and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence in Teaching Award.
Today, service to the community is a significant part of life for Pat, who is on the CCC Beautification Committee and the Genesis-Thomas County Food Pantry board. She also takes on many roles as a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and is treasurer for the Thomas County Scholarship Organization.
Though no longer instructing students every day, Pat still has a strong interest in physical therapy. She holds lifetime memberships in the national and state physical therapist associations while remaining current on what is happening in the CCC program.
"The college community has meant a great deal to me over the years, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of this institution in some way for years to come."
The appreciation for higher education runs in the family. Pat holds a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from the University of Kansas, and in 2003 earned a doctor of physical therapy from Creighton University. The Ericksons' three adult children have also pursued college degrees. CCC grad Christopher earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Kansas State University. He and his wife Jessica live in Houston, Texas, where he works as a mechanical engineer for Kinder-Morgan, Inc. Their daughter Dr. Erika Erickson, who holds degrees in bioengineering and plant biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkley, lives with her husband Tyler Williams in Evergreen, Colo. Daughter Elizabeth is a graduate of Cornell College and finishing a doctoral degree in geology this fall from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
When reflecting on more than 30 years in a CCC classroom, she takes nothing for granted.
"CCC will continue without any of us who have been here in the past, but my hope is that by my short tenure at the institution, I contributed to a stronger and better place for future students. I am humbled and thankful."
The professional career of multibillion-dollar fundraiser and philanthropist Bob Hartsook began at CCC. As the dean of students at age 21 and vice president of the college less than two years later, the Emporia native became the youngest person in the country to hold a higher education executive position. He credits presidents Tangeman and Mosier with the opportunity.
"The fundamentals of academic leadership were taught to me by Jim Tangeman," Hartsook said. "And the opportunity was through my selection by Dr. Richard Mosier. Colby in those early days was blessed with innovative and creative leadership."
Hartsook often reflects on the words of CCC Trustee Dr. Floyd Smith as Hartsook was leaving Colby to enter law school at Washburn University.
"He said, 'Bob, you understand what few ever learn. There is no security; there is only opportunity.'"
Those eight words resonated with Hartsook.
"That message has been the guiding light of my career."
After earning a Juris Doctor, Hartsook returned to higher education administration and had success as the vice president at Washburn and then was the executive vice president at Wichita State University. While at Wichita State, he completed a $100 million capital campaign, and it was the first drive among any Kansas Regents universities and one of 30 universities nationally to surpass $100 million.
His growing passion for fundraising and philanthropy led to the launch of Hartsook, which today ranks as one of the largest fundraising consulting practices in the world. In 2009, he expanded with Hartsook Institutes for Fundraising and established the Hartsook Master of Arts in Fundraising Management degree program through its partner Avila University.
Other business interests include Hartsook Farms & Resorts, an oceanfront condo real estate company in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and Hartsook Enterprises, Resources and Investments, LLC. He is also the chair and CEO of Hartsook Institutes for Fundraising in partnership with Indiana University, University of Chicago, and Plymouth University in the United Kingdom.
He is a prolific writer and has authored 11 books, over 150 articles and made more than 1,000 presentations on fundraising and philanthropy. In addition to a Juris Doctor, he holds a bachelor's degree in economics, master's degree in counseling, and Doctor of Education.
Hartsook's awards and recognitions consist of the Honorary Doctor of Business from Plymouth University, the Special Growing Philanthropy Award, the National Sigma Phi Epsilon Citation Award, the Emporia State University Distinguished Service Award, and the Washburn University Law School Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also listed among the Top 150 Important Citizens in the 150-year history of Emporia, Kansas, and is a member of the Emporia High School Hall of Fame.
When Hartsook finds time, he visits his son Austin Hartsook and his wife Leah Lawson Hartsook in Asheville, N.C.
Sara (Wells) Lee
From Salina, Kan., Sara Wells Lee landed at Colby Community College in 1997 after being recruited by former CCC cross country and track coach Kirk Hunter.
"I'm not sure how, but Coach Hunter convinced me to head three hours west to the 'Oasis on the Plains' and give running a shot instead of following my plan to attend K-State with my friends," Lee said.
Hunter, a 2014 CCC Hall of Fame inductee, realized right away that Lee had great potential.
"Sara was an amazing athlete and is an amazing person," he said. "I immediately knew she was going to be successful as an athlete just by watching the sheer talent that she displayed while running. It became more evident once I got to know her and learned of her determination to be successful."
Lee took up cross country just two years earlier as a junior at Sacred Heart High School, but her commitment to Colby paid off quickly as she ran to first-team All-American cross country honors as a freshman. That momentum carried into track when she earned NJCAA honorable mention in the indoor 3000m and 5000m outdoor seasons.
As a sophomore, Lee was again a first-team All-American as the Trojans stormed to a cross country national championship. Her indoor track season included second-team 5000m and second-team 10000m All-America awards. She performed at a high level in outdoor track with national honorable mentions in the 5000m and 100000m races.
Hunter said he was fortunate to have an athlete with her dedication.
"She had a tremendous work ethic and desire to be successful, and through it all, she continued to be coachable. She is a once-in-a-lifetime talent that any coach would be excited to have, and I feel very lucky that she gave me the opportunity to work with her while at Colby Community College."
Lee graduated from CCC in 1999 and transferred to Oklahoma State University, where she completed a bachelor's degree in psychology.
After college, she continued to run competitively and, in 2002, joined Team USA Minnesota. She was the 2003 USA Marathon champion at the 26.2-mile in St. Louis and finished seventh in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials with a personal best time of 2:33:15. While in Minnesota, she continued her education to get a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from St. Catherine University in St. Paul.
Lee resides in Salina now, working in home health as a physical therapist and coaching cross country at Sacred Heart Catholic Junior/Senior High School. With her husband Nate and their three daughters Adelyn, Emerson, and Laney at her side, she has no regrets.
"Looking back now, I feel so blessed to have taken that leap as it was the beginning of an exciting journey for me. I always felt like the community of Colby shared the same values as I had growing up, which was important to me and made the transition away from home much easier. The friendships made while there will last a lifetime."
The middle child of four brothers and four sisters, Edward Limo did not begin competitive running until after graduating high school in Eldoret, Kenya. But he dreamed of attending college in the United States, and he took up the sport as a way to fund his education.
While attending a training facility about 100 miles from his home, Limo spent his money on internet access to email coaches every day for nearly a year, often getting no reply.
One day his fortune changed when a U.S. coach came to him. Jeff Becker, the track and cross country coach at CCC years earlier, was in Kenya to visit the family of a runner he coached under his current employer New Mexico Junior College. Limo lived next door and introduced himself.
"He proceeded to tell me about his ability in running," Becker said. "I told him we did not have a men's team but that I knew of a great place for him. Having coached at Colby and being an alum myself, I knew it was a great place where he could succeed. I also knew [CCC coach] James Ortiz was a great coach, and it could be a good fit."
Although it was 8,500 miles from home, Limo got his opportunity.
"Edward was the first big piece in helping us turn the program around," Ortiz said. "He helped us with recruiting by showing others success is possible at Colby."
Limo said the transition to the United States was challenging, but the people made the difference.
"Colby Community College was a perfect place for me, a small community with loving people, and that helped me fit right in. Everyone was friendly, and I had awesome instructors, who, despite my broken English, were patient and helped me learn the ropes quickly."
A few months after arriving, the freshman raced to first-team All-America awards in cross country and the half marathon and during outdoor track, was named honorable mention in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m run. Limo returned his sophomore year to claim the national runner-up spot in cross country and honorable mentions in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m during indoor track. He finished his CCC career as the 3000m steeplechase national champion and a second-team 5000m selection in outdoor track.
Ortiz observed that Limo's success helped create a culture of winning for the program.
"After he finished as an All-American in cross country, we started producing more cross country All-Americans. After he was a national champion on the track, we were able to produce more national champions."
The trend continued for years following Limo's departure.
"He set the standard for Trojans that followed him," said Ortiz. "After his graduation, we won three straight region championships in cross country and won region titles in indoor and outdoor track. Most of all, Edward was a great representative in the classroom and the community."
Limo's decorated stretch as a Trojan got the attention of several Division I universities before he chose the University of Central Arkansas. His impact was felt immediately, as he was named the 2012 Southland Conference Male Newcomer of the Year, the first UCA student to ever win the award.
Despite success as a student-athlete, Limo wanted to do more. When the United States Army contacted him searching for interpreters who spoke Swahili, he decided to forego his final semester of eligibility and enlist. He completed 17 weeks of basic training and was sworn in as an American citizen.
"My inspiration to join the U.S. Army started here as I wanted to do something bigger than myself to give back to the community."
He continued his education and completed a bachelor's degree in health service management from the University of Maryland Global Campus.
Now in Hawaii as a logistician at the Army base, Limo lives with his wife Valentine Limo and their son Dylan Kipchirchir Limo.
After earning an associate degree from Colby Community College in 1991 and a bachelor's degree in marketing from Kansas State University, Mark Schultz moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of becoming a singer and songwriter. Five years of hard work led to a sold-out show at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium, earning him a record deal and a self-titled debut album. It was the beginning of a contemporary Christian music career that has sold over 2 million albums, landed 13 No.1 singles, and earned multiple writing and performance awards.
In 2003, his song "Back in His Arms Again" was named BMI's Christian Song of the Year. A year later, "Letters from War" was the centerpiece of the Army's "Be Safe-Make It Home" campaign. Schultz also earned the top spot on Billboard magazine's Christian Adult Contemporary Songwriter list. His 2005 album, Mark Schultz Live: A Night of Stories and Songs, sold RIAA-certified Platinum to help him collect his first Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Award.
Despite his success, the Colby High School graduate remembers where he started.
"Even after selling many records and playing for thousands of people in beautiful theaters around the world, I still feel like a student writing songs late at night in a practice room in Colby. The valuable lesson I learned from Colby and CCC is to do what you love, find your niche, and try to do it better than anyone else."
Music is not the only dimension of his life. Schultz feels it is necessary to take care of others and be surrounded by like-minded people to reach a common goal.
"Find your community, and then do what you love and give it back," he said. "If it resonates, your community will grow. Colby and CCC gave me the confidence to do that."
One community Schultz advances is the support of orphans. Adopted at two weeks old, he has spent most of his adult life advocating for children and promoting adoption. In 2007, he rode his bicycle from California to Maine to raise money for widows and orphans. Along the route, he performed 15 concerts in 10 States with proceeds totaling a quarter of a million dollars. Additionally, his efforts have produced over a million dollars for Pregnancy Resource Centers across the country.
Now, he lives in North Carolina with his wife, Kate, and four children, Ryan, Gus, Maia Mae, and Ebbylou.