Special to the Register & Bee

During Averett University’s 2019 homecoming festivities Oct. 19, the university honored six alumni with Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards and inducted five alumni into the Athletics Hall of Fame.

Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards



The Recent Alumnus Award is presented to an alumnus that has graduated in fewer than 10 years. Jada Little, a 2016 graduate, is the director of operations at the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities. While at Averett, she served a year-long term as a Young Alumni Trustee. She is a member of Lambda Pi Eta and Sigma Alpha Pi. Little earned the Recent Alumnus Award for her volunteerism and dedication to improve the lives of Delawareans with intellectual disabilities.

Two alumni were honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Stephanie Lowe Ellis, the executive director of behavioral health, crisis intervention and student safety for Rockingham County Schools in North Carolina, completed her doctorate in December 2018 at High Point University. Ellis is receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award for her dedication to the welfare of students and for her work building and improving mental health services for students throughout her district.

Nic Sturdifen is the owner/president of Life Push, LLC. He is a former member of the Averett Alumni Board. Sturdifen received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his work in the community and helping K-12 students, college students and transitioning adults overcome the obstacles prohibiting them from reaching their highest levels of success.

Margaret Lewis was the recipient of the Fugate Davis Women’s Leadership Award, which is presented to an alumna or community leader who exemplifies leadership, community and responsibility. Lewis is a former Averett trustee and is the former president of HCA’s Capital Division. Her responsibilities included 17 hospitals in Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Indiana.

The Frank Campbell Service Award is presented in memory of the former president of Averett. Jennifer Hoge Williams, has taught children in many arenas for almost 29 years. Her passion is giving children access to books they enjoy reading and fostering in them a love of reading. She began a nonprofit organization named Joy of Reading-Danville through which she has given away 13,500 books in the Danville region. Williams received the Frank Campbell Service Award for her commitment to children and introducing them to the joy of reading.

The Mary Jo Davis Lifetime Service Award is presented in memory of the former staff member and community leader with an unwavering long term commitment to Averett. Susan Slade Hudgins is involved with the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community where she served on the board for many years. The group is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, community-based youth performing arts education organizations. She also has hosted several Averett events in Richmond including the rebirth of the Averett Ladies Tea. Hudgins received the Mary Jo Davis Lifetime Service Award for her life-long commitment to Averett.

“We are so proud of our alumni, especially these six who were nominated by their peers,” said Dan Hayes, director of alumni relations. “It is so interesting that even though they were nominated for a multitude reasons, all have demonstrated a deep commitment to improving the lives of others.”

Averett Athletics Hall of Fame

Scott Swann, a Bachelor of Science in aviation graduate, flies the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter for the United States Coast Guard in Mobile, Alabama. He’s also an instructor pilot for the aviation training school, so he qualifies new pilots so they can fly the same helicopter. He lives in Mobile with his wife and three children.

Tapio Martti, a Bachelor of Science in business and marketing graduate, works as a sales and business development manager for North America in the textile industry. He still enjoys tennis and competes in local and state-level USTA events. He and his family live in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Brad Hartman, a Bachelor of Science in physical education and MBA graduate, works for Infinity Global as an account coordinator. He is married to Amanda and they have a son Noah, daughter Emma and a child on the way. They live in Danville.

Paige Aaron Echols, a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with teaching licensure and a minor in history graduate, teaches mathematics at Chatham High School and previously coached the varsity volleyball team. She is married to Dustin and they have two sons, Creed and Cade. She and her family live in Ringgold.

Allison Sparks Williams, a Bachelor of Science in elementary education graduate, teaches third grade at Brosville Elementary School. She is married to Tyler and they reside in Eden, North Carolina. In her spare time, she enjoys attending church and crafting.

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