NNU News

2019 Alumni Award Recipients

October 18, 2019

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Each year at Homecoming, NNU honors alumni for their accomplishments and service since graduation. This year, four individuals will be recognized on Friday, November 8 at 10 a.m. during chapel in the Brandt Center’s Swayne Auditorium.

Alumnus of the Year
Patrick Gray graduated from NNU in 1997 and again in 1999. He holds degrees in biology-chemistry, biology education, and nursing. His varied career has included teaching high school and working in hospital administration. Patrick’s life and career changed direction in 2014 when he pushed his best friend Justin Skeesuck in a wheelchair through the entirety of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrim’s trail across northern Spain.

Their amazing journey resulted in a bestselling book and an award-winning documentary, both titled “I’ll Push You.” Gray and Skeesuck now share their lessons and insights as they speak internationally, helping individuals and businesses cultivate healthy, thriving communities. Gray and Skeesuck have created school and church focused educational materials and studies, written a children’s book, and have a forthcoming book titled “Imprints.” Learn more about Gray and Skeesuck and their work at pushinc.us. Gray is married to Donna (Kenoyer) (’97) and they have three children, Cambria, Joshua, and Olivia. For his selfless commitment to helping people realize their potential for radical relationship with God and one another, NNU is thrilled to confer the award of Alumnus of the Year on Patrick Gray.

Professional Achievement Award
Bette Dale Moore (‘74) is well known for her spunk and her joy when it comes to the stage. Currently teaching elementary music at Liberty Charter School, she has been writing, performing and directing music and drama in the Nampa community for more than 30 years. She is heavily involved in her local church where she has written and directed their annual Easter pageant for the past 35 years as well as their beloved children’s program on Sunday mornings.

Moore has seen some of her original productions through decades of well-attended performances all over the Treasure Valley. She has also published two drama books and three children’s musicals with Lillenas Publishing Company. Bringing joy to all ages through the performing arts, Moore has impacted her community in a long-lasting way and NNU is delighted to present her with the 2019 Professional Achievement Award.

Leon Doane Young Alumnus
After 4 years of medical school at UC San Diego and 6 years at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Dr. Erin Conlee (‘08) returned to Idaho to serve as a pediatric rehabilitation physician at St. Luke’s Children’s Rehab in Boise. She explains that pediatric rehabilitation was a field of medicine that combined her love of coaching, medicine and building relationships with children and families.

From serving as chief resident at Mayo Clinic and presenting research at national conventions to founding an adaptive rock-climbing program for children with disabilities with her husband, Conlee is the embodiment of a humble servant of Christ. “We are here on this world for good, for bringing more of the Lord to the people of this world,” says Conlee. For her compassionate service across the nation, NNU is honored and delighted to present Dr. Erin Conlee with the Leon Doane Young Alumnus Award.

Distinguished Service Award
After 30 years of teaching elementary school in the Anchorage School District, Dennis Strait is enjoying his retirement. Strait graduated from NNC in 1969 with a degree in Biological Science. After serving two years in the Army he returned to the college to get his degree Elementary Education. Since that time, Strait has had an active role in both his local community and the NNU community. He served on the NNU Alumni Board for 12 years, and for the past 32 years, he has assisted with the annual Alaska District NYI Resurrection Trail Hike for youth. He currently serves on the Alaska Nazarene District Advisory Board.

Despite being retired, Strait keeps busy by volunteering at New Hope on the Last Frontier, an Anchorage faith-based food distribution center. He also helps with the Wednesday night Teen group at Anchorage Hillcrest Church of the Nazarene. Strait credits NNU for providing opportunities to strengthen his relationship with Jesus Christ in a setting that was miles away from home. For his faithful service to his communities near and far including NNU and the Church of the Nazarene, Dennis Strait is the honored recipient of the Distinguished Service Award.

A complete schedule of events for Homecoming 2019 can be found at nnu.edu/homecoming.