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When you think of alumni of the year, you may tend to think of high-profile people with a list of accomplishments to their credit. Although Steve '83 and Helen '83 Hoekstra may not possess great public visibility, their impact on the community is no less significant. Their quiet, unassuming Christian lifestyles and the effect they have had on fellow alumni are the primary reasons they were named Trinity's 2004 Alumni of the Year.

The alumni board accepted nominations for the annual award from the body of Trinity graduates. Candidates must have made significant contributions to their field, be recognized by their associates for outstanding achievements, and manifest a Christian commitment that reflects the College's mission.

"The Hoekstras embody the kind of service and loyalty that I think people really admire," Dennis Harms '89, alumni and donor relations director, said about the couple, who live in Bristol, Indiana. "They actively serve their church, are involved in their kids' school, and continue to further the cause of the College with their support."

Steve and Helen have maintained regular contact with Trinity's alumni office while also staying connected with history professor Robert Rice. They have supported the Trinity Fund and various scholarships offered by the College. Steve, a general surgeon, has written letters of recommendation for Trinity students applying for medical school at Loyola University, where he completed his medical degree.

"Connection is very important," Harms said, "and this award is one way to honor their commitment to the College. They're not people who are in the spotlight, but they are two people whom we are proud to call alumni."

This year marked the first time Trinity presented Honorary Alumni Awards, which will be given annually to one staff member, faculty member, and friend of the College. The idea emerged after several alumni recalled their student years and the positive influence of people who were not Trinity alumni. Nominees are chosen and approved the by alumni board, and must have made a significant contribution to the College. 

The first recipients of the award included former English professor Gerda Bos, longtime Trinity supporters Ken and Marcia Mels, and retired bookstore manager Betty Kerkstra 

"I heard so many great stories and memories about Gerda Bos that I wished I had taken some of my classes with her," said Kelly Triezenberg '02, assistant director of alumni relations. "Ken and Marcia Mels support most of the College's activities from music to athletics, and Betty was synonymous with the bookstore. All four of these people love Christian higher education, have nurtured the faith and spiritual growth of hundreds of former students, and have had a lasting influence on them."

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