Three recognized with alumni awards

October 28, 2011
Contact: Karen B. Eldridge, Director of Communications

Maryville College honored three alumni during the National Alumni Association’s annual meeting and reception held Oct. 22 in the Alumni Gymnasium on campus.

The College’s Alumni Citation was presented to Dr. T. Bryson Struse III, a member of the Class of 1961 who has built a distinguished career in nuclear medicine in Tucson, Ariz., and Dr. Melissa Walker, a 1985 graduate of the College and award-winning scholar who is currently the George Dean Johnson, Jr. Professor of History at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.

Since 1961, the College’s Alumni Citations have recognized graduates who have rendered such service in professional, business, civil, social, or religious endeavor as to benefit humanity and bring honor to the College, or who have rendered unusual service in any capacity on behalf of the College.

Maryville College Director of Community Engagement Preston Fields, a 2003 graduate, was named the recipient of the Kin Takahashi Award for Young Alumni during the reception.

The Kin Takahashi award, instituted in 1999, honors alumni who have, within 15 years of graduation, lived lives characteristic of College legend Kin Takahashi, who, in his 36 years of living, worked tirelessly for the betterment of his alma mater, his church and his society.

Struse came to MC for football

A native of Phoenixville, Pa., T. Bryson Struse ’61 came to Maryville College primarily because he wanted to play football. By the time he graduated in 1961, he had not only lettered in football, track and wrestling, he had been selected co-captain of the football team and helped win a bowl game. Forty-four years later, the College would induct him into its Wall of Fame.

Struse majored in biology at the College and was accepted into the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Finishing coursework for the doctor of osteopathic medicine in 1965, he interned in Norristown, Pa., and completed residencies in Philadelphia and Southfield, Mich.

Bryson moved to Tucson, Ariz., in 1969 to practice internal medicine and quickly established himself as a competent and caring physician at Tucson General Hospital and other medical centers. He was awarded fellowships in ultrasound, X-ray computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.

Eventually concentrating his practice on nuclear medicine and nuclear cardiology, Struse gained recognition as an expert in field. Twice, an independent survey conducted by Tucson Lifestyle magazine led to a “Top Doc” distinction for this alumnus. In 2003, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Physicians’ Advisory Board named him “Physician of the Year.”

As the physician director of the nuclear medicine and ultrasound departments at Tucson General for 31 and 26 years, respectively, Struse guided and advised scores of interns, residents and new doctors.

From 1996 until 2010, he was director of nuclear medicine and ultrasound at Pima Heart Imaging Center. Today, he sees patients at the Tucson Heart Hospital.

Struse has published several articles in medical journals, spoken at national medical conventions and been a leader in professional organizations. From 1978 until 1986, he served on the board of directors for the American College of Osteopathic Internists and was president of the organization in 1984 and 1985. He presently serves as chairman of the American Osteopathic Board of Nuclear Medicine.

Active in his church, New Life Bible Fellowship, Struse generously supports several missionaries and ministries. He also generously supports his alma mater. A longtime President’s Circle member, this alumnus endowed a scholarship in 2007 to benefit biology students. He joined the Maryville College Board of Directors on Oct. 21, 2011.

He and wife Elaine live in Marana, Ariz., where they raise Missouri Fox Trotter horses, dairy cows, chickens, geese and dogs. Between them, they have eight children and 12 grandchildren.

Walker, a Blount native, is outstanding scholar, teacher

Melissa Walker ’85 was the first valedictorian of William Blount High School in Maryville, Tenn., graduating in 1980. The daughter of Guy and Rachel Walker, she enrolled at Maryville College in 1981 with a Presidential Scholarship and graduated summa cum laude four years later with a bachelor of arts in history.

Walker spent two years in Maryville College’s alumni and communications offices before moving to Rhode Island to work at Bryant College and continue her education at Providence College. She earned her master’s degree in history from Providence in 1993, and her Ph.D. in American and women’s history from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., in 1996.

She moved to Spartanburg, S.C., in 1996 to become an assistant history professor at Converse College, a liberal arts college for women. Today, she is the George Dean Johnson, Jr. Professor of History.

Known nationally for her expertise in rural Southern life in the 20th Century, Walker is widely published on the subject and has presented at numerous conferences and symposiums. She is involved in numerous professional organizations, including the Agricultural History Society and the Southern Association for Women Historians.

Her 2000 book, All We Knew Was to Farm: Rural Women in the Upcountry South, 1919-1941, won the Southern Association for Women Historians’ Willie Lee Rose Prize for the Best Book in Southern History authored by a woman. Southern Farmers and Their Stories: Memory and Meaning in Oral History was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title in 2007. Other books include Southern Women at the Millennium: A Historical Perspective; Country Women Cope with Hard Times: A Collection of Oral Histories; and Work, Family, and Faith: Rural Southern Women in the Twentieth Century.

Known for dynamic teaching and collaborating regularly with students on original research, Walker has been recognized numerous times for her work in the classroom. In 2007, the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named her “South Carolina Professor of the Year.” In recognition of her work at Converse, she received the Kathryne Amelia Brown Award for outstanding teaching in 2001, and the O’Herron Award for Faculty Excellence in 2002. In 2007, Converse presented her with the Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award.

This alumna has received grants to lead workshops for K-12 history teachers, and in 1998, she participated in a faculty exchange in Syria as a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship.

Walker and husband Chuck Reback live in Spartanburg but travel to Maryville frequently to visit family and friends. Melissa’s nephew, Robert Kennedy ’12 is majoring in engineering at the College.

Fields is passionate about service

After graduating from Knoxville Catholic High School in 1999, Preston Fields ’03 enrolled at Maryville College as a Bonner Scholar. When not in class and working toward dual majors in religion and international studies, he volunteered at numerous off-campus service sites and was a campus leader for organizations such as the Student Literacy Corps and Maryville College Catholic Community. For his outstanding performance in the classroom and his positive impact on and off campus, he was a finalist for the College’s Outstanding Senior Award.

Fields’ first job after graduating in 2003 was with U.S. Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign staff in Washington, D.C. His responsibilities included ghost writing op-ed pieces for the candidate and monitoring Kerry’s presence in the media.

Moving back to East Tennessee in 2004, this alumnus accepted the position of intern for service and mission in the College’s Samuel Tyndale Wilson Center for Campus Ministry. In less than a year, he was promoted to the position of director of volunteer services, a position that required him to coordinate the Bonner Scholars program and other volunteer-based initiatives such as “Alternative Spring Break” and “Make a Difference Day.”

Today, he is the College’s director of community engagement, a title that recognizes Fields’ reach outside the campus gates for service-learning and community-based research opportunities for students and faculty.

Largely due to his efforts, the College has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll five consecutive years.

In 2006, Fields and friend Tom Weisner, a singer/songwriter, formed a ministry entitled Hiking4 Jesus. Aimed at youth and young adults, Hiking4Jesus is focused on encouraging individuals to think about a walk with Christ where the destinations are clear and the paths are often clearly marked, as opposed to aimless wandering. The ministry has taken them to youth retreats and workshops all over the country.

In 2009, Fields published Hiking For Jesus, a book of short reflections on his own life experiences that aims to help teenagers in their search for faith, vocation and life purpose.

This fall, Fields enrolled in graduate courses at the University of Tennessee. With plans to complete a master’s degree in social work by 2014, this alumnus’ long-range plan is to become a licensed clinical social worker. Supporting him in the effort are colleagues and friends and a close-knit family that includes parents W. Preston and Barbara Fields and sisters Taylor Fields ‘06 and Haley Fields.

To nominate an alumnus/alumna for an award, visit the College’s web site for details.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.