Story by Katlyn Mackie, Staff writer
A banquet was held on Friday, April 21 to honor this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1962 and is presented annually to Murray State alumni who have made important contributions in their professions.
The four recipients of this year’s award were W. Earl Brown, Amy Bryan Watson, Jesse D. Jones and Vishwas Talwalkar.
Brown graduated in 1986 and has since become a famous actor, guest starring on “Seinfeld” and playing a major role in motion picture “Scream.”.
Jones is a retired senior advisor at Albemarle Corporation and generously supports the university with student scholarships, professorships and contributing to faculty honors, research and facilities.
Talwalkar – a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and a mentor for medical students at the University of Kentucky – has many professional accomplishments and volunteers abroad with Medical Mission Ecuador.
Watson is a broadcast anchor and journalist with WTVF Channel 5 Nashville, and has accolades ranging from the award for best reporter by The Associated Press to Emmy awards.
Carrie McGinnis, director of Murray State alumni relations, said it has been exciting planning the festivities to honor the four alumni and it is one of her favorite times of the year.
“It’s such a celebration of what our alumni are capable of achieving and what they have achieved and it’s a great lesson for our students to see what they can become one day when they put their minds to it,” McGinnis said.
A press conference was held before the dinner to obtain insight on the recipients’ experiences and how they came to be the people they are today.
Experiences at Murray
Watson said if she hadn’t graduated from Murray State with a resume tape to be able to hand out to potential employers, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“I was able to leave here with the work that I had one and was able to and hand it to potential employers and get my first job and get started,” Watson said. “I owe a lot to Murray State for sure.”
Brown agreed with Watson. He said when he was at Murray State, there were very few colleges at the time where you could engage in hands-on experience in a television studio.
He was even able to produce a half-hour comedy show for a year and a half because of the resources the university had provided.
“I really had no idea I could do this as a career, it just sort of eventually fell into place because of the experience I had, not just the in theatre department and on stage, but in the television department being able to create things on my own,” Brown said.
Jones said the first time he graduated from Murray State was back in the “dark ages” – 1964 – and he hit the ground running.
“I’ve had a great experience and a wonderful journey because of the preparation I’ve received at Murray State,” Jones said.
Talwalkar said didn’t mean to end up at Murray State but came to the university because of football, and says it was one of the best mistakes of his life.
He said all of his experiences and relationships he made at Murray prepared him for medical school in a way that he never anticipated.
“I’m just one in a long line of of people who have been able to come through the biological sciences and been able to do well in medical school,” Talwalkar said.
Coming back to Murray for the Banquet
Brown said he was the first person from his family to go to college, and receiving this award has reminded him that he has come a long way.
He also said on the way back to Murray he was reminiscent of his summer orientation, where he had problems with his admissions and couldn’t hear anything from spending all night at a rock concert.
Jones said Murray has a lot of connections to his family – many of them have degrees from Murray State.
“I have strong ties to Murray and it’s really good to be here again,” Jones said.
Talwalkar said it’s fantastic for him to come back to Murray because it’s always felt like a second home to him.
He also said when you say “welcome home” that’s really the way that it feels like coming back to see so many friends and family, and he has an added pleasure of seeing his daughter, currently a freshman.
Watson said she also has a long tradition of being a part of Murray State, with many family members graduating from the university.
“I’ve just been so humbled and grateful, it’s wonderful to be able to come back home,” Watson said. “I still don’t believe it, but I’m really grateful for this honor.”