The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

The student-run community news site of Vermont State University - Johnson

Basement Medicine

Four alumni honored at Homecoming

It was, noted JSC President Barbara Murphy, one of the most enjoyable aspects of her job as she hosted the Homecoming Alumni Awards ceremony on Saturday Sept. 22 at Stearns Performance Space, where students, faculty and alumni gathered to honor the recipients.

Each year, these awards are presented to alumni who have taken part in “breakthrough and meaningful work that will have a lasting effect,” said Murphy. “Giving back is more than just returning something; it’s a pledge to the future and to raise something that’s good and important to the next level.”

Dawn LeBaron, ’76, received the Outstanding Alumni award for her 32 years of work in the healthcare field. LeBaron is a Vermont native who paved the way for women administrators in health-related professions. She is currently Vice President for Hospital Services at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, where she has been employed for the past 13 years.

For fun, LeBaron has earned a black belt in Karate and teaches women’s self-defense. She is also a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, serves on the board of the Northern New England Association of Healthcare Executives as well as on the board of the Lund Center, from where she was adopted when she was six months old.

“Today I would really just like to say ‘thank-you.’ I was the first in my family to attend college, and Johnson was totally the right fit for me,” said LeBaron. “Even though tuition was certainly less then than it is now, I did not pay a dime to attend this college. Every day since then I express gratitude for that and try to live life well and give back as a result of that.”

Donald M. Allen, ’84, received an Outstanding Alumni award for his work with various athletic teams at JSC, as well as for work in the Vermont business community. Allen grew up in New Jersey and quickly realized that was not where he wanted to stay. He came to Johnson State simply because he liked the name of the college and one day later, he noted, “I knew I had found home.”

Allen lives in Johnson and owns The Nordic Barn, which holds the title of “Best Ski Shop in New England” for cross-country, backcountry and telemark gear as voted by his industry peers. Allen also coached the JSC Women’s Rugby Club to its division III National Championship last year, volunteers with the Special Olympics’ winter events and is an active supporter of the Stowe Derby.

“When I received the invitation for this honor, I could just imagine my fellow college classmates from the 80’s seeing the announcement and every single one of them saying ‘holy crap,’ and the ones that still know me are even more saying ‘holy crap,’” Allen said. “This College means a lot to me and has given me quite a bit. The true reason I’m here is not because of my life’s accomplishments. It’s because I gave back a little bit at some point. I’m not a great business person, or a great athlete, or a great father, husband, or rugby coach. I am an ordinary person, blessed with the drive to make something of every day and blessed to be surrounded by my family, my friends and this beautiful place I call home.”

Rising Star Alumni Award recipient Courtney Gabaree-Santimore, ’10, was honored for her work combating human trafficking. She accepted a job with The Polaris Project in Washington D.C. as a call specialist with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center right after graduating from JSC.

As a student she won the Madeleine M Kunin award for “outstanding public service and leadership.” Gabaree-Santimore testified before the Vermont Judiciary Committee, convincing Vermont to pass a ban on human trafficking. She works with organizations such as A Global Partnership: Students for Children’s Rights, the Clarina Howard Nichols Center in Morrisville and the Bonner Leader Program.

Today Gabaree-Santimore is working at HOPE Works, with youth and young adults who have experienced sexual violence. She was unable to attend Homecoming because of work obligations, so Director of Experiential Education Ellen Hill accepted the award on her behalf. “If I were to channel Courtney, she would probably say ‘it’s not about me, but I’m surrounded by an amazing tapestry of people who support me to do my best work,’’ Hill said. “So thank you, Courtney, for all that you are doing.”

Tara Goreau, who earned her BFA in art last year, received the Rising Star Alumni Award for her sometimes controversial work in the arts. Goreau started painting murals as a teenager in Vermont. Murphy said she is “part of a group that is making this [murals] a political and contemporary art form.”

Goreau painted her first mural in high school in the basement of a hospital in St. Johnsbury and as a senior painted a 14-foot mural at the local pool. She started college at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she initiated the “UBC Parking Garage Beautification Project” the efforts of which were eventually met with resistance and gray paint.

In 2009, she enrolled at JSC and since graduating has painted murals for High Mowing Seeds, Pete’s Greens, The Galaxy Bookshop, The Cellars at Jasper Hill and Sterling College.

“Her artwork is not uncontroversial,” Murphy said. “Our job here is not to make art safe for people. It’s to make us all smart, generous, and good enough critics to make our way in the world knowing how to evaluate and appreciate.”

Goreau singled out Professor of Fine Arts Ken Leslie for special thanks as she received her award. “This has been a great environment to start painting in and what an amazing community to do it for,” she said. “I hope to live up to all expectations.”

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About the Contributor
Lindsay Brown, Staff Reporter
Lindsay Brown joined the Basement Medicine staff in fall 2012 as a general assignment reporter.  She continued in that position in spring 2013 and will return in fall 2013 as assistant editor.