Distinguished Alumnus Award
David G. Roeder, a Mechanical Drafting graduate from 1964 received the Distinguished Alumni Award at a ceremony of Ranken alumni held on May 11. Dave attended St. Mary's High School in south St. Louis for freshman and sophomore years and spent his final two years at Maryhurst, a private boarding school run by the Brothers of Mary in Kirkwood, Mo., graduating in 1962. He enrolled at Ranken immediately and graduated from the mechanical drafting/tool & die design program under the instruction of Clarence Lane in 1964. David later received formal certification as a manufacturing engineer.
David was first employed at Ridgewood Steel Fabrication, where he worked in the machine shop. He then moved to Stile-Craft Manufacturers, Inc., a screw machine job shop that also specialized in medical/hospital equipment where he worked as a designer for 15 years. Over the years at Stile-Craft, he advanced from designing screw machine tooling and press tools to designing special machines for the mass production of everything from 60mm mortar shell bases to brazed copper/brass medical fittings. Coming in on the ground floor in numerical control machining, he learned to write programs that were converted to paper tapes that actually controlled the machine functions.
Beginning in 1980, Dave spent the next 22 years at Sunnen Products Company as a manufacturing engineer and worked on tooling, machine design and plant layouts. Eventually, Dave was supervising seven people in the Process Engineering Department. In 1989 he was offered a position in International Sales and began traveling for Sunnen, working first with the distributors in England, Germany, France and other European countries, then in Canada, Mexico, Central America and South America. He traveled extensively, and in one year he traveled to Asia visiting Japan, Korea, Taiwan & Singapore. In the mid 1990s, he was traveling to South America (Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile), Central America and the Caribbean. David retired in 2002, earning over one million frequent flier miles on American Airlines.
Dave bought a sports car in 1970 which led him to serve as an officer in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) St. Louis region. He spent 25 years in various volunteer positions in the SCCA as well as in the Porsche Club. He has held positions as board member (SCCA), regional president (Porsche Club, 1984-1986), announcer of SCCA events, and driving instructor for the Porsche and BMW clubs.
In 1987 Dave joined a group of volunteers who were restoring the 1926 Ballwin steam locomotive 1522 to operation. Because of this project (a 15-year involvement), Dave found himself serving on the Board of the Transport Museum Association as well as on the board of the St. Louis Steam Train Association. He served as the service crew supervisor for the 1522, overseeing the maintenance of the steam locomotive during trips to Omaha, Nebraska; Atlanta, Georgia; Galesburg, Illinois, and many others for railroad activities.
Dave's most vivid memory of Ranken is sitting in a class with Mr. Lane as the instructor when it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. He also remembers being taught how to do calculations using a slide rule. Under Mr. Lane he was required to communicate designs verbally by standing up in front of class and giving presentations-something that he really enjoyed. "The confidence I gained by learning to speak and communicate clearly has helped me achieve many career goals. I have fond memories of working on maintenance projects at Ranken during the summer months. We scraped and painted the iron fence and helped to remove the large steam engine generator that was in the main lobby where the Dining Hall is now."
Dave has been married to his wife Judy for 44 years. His hobbies include model railroading, contest modeling for local shows and for the National Model Railroad Association's Divisional and Regional events, and model car building. Dave enters his 1988 Porsche in local car shows including the Ranken Car Show. He recently participated in an eight-year restoration of a 1918 Dodge Brothers touring car and had an article on that restoration published in the Dodge Brothers Club magazine. Dave and Judy are members of the Ranken Legacy Society, have supported the Capital Campaign at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis County, the YMCA of the Ozarks, YMCA of Greater St. Louis, and are annual donors to Ranken Technical College's Fund for Ranken.
Distinguished Young Alumnus Award
Kynal (Von) Hester, a Computer Technology graduate from 1993 received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award at a ceremony of Ranken alumni held on May 11. Upon receiving an associate degree from Ranken in the spring of 1993, Von applied to several local colleges to continue his education. To help with additional tuition costs, Von worked nights at UPS and enjoyed a partial scholarship for the performing arts playing the viola, which he still plays today to pass some time.
Upon receiving a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems, Von acquired his first job in the information technology field. By getting word that a friend who worked for Station Casinos in the IT division was leaving in the fall of 1998 to work for Boeing, Von applied and was hired. By first working as a valet from the spring of 1998 through the fall, he was able to transfer to the IT department as a junior operations specialist. Five years later he was promoted to systems analyst and three years later to senior systems analyst, a position he holds today with Ameristar Casinos. Since Ranken and SLU, Von has increased his skillset to include SQL/Database Administration, Cisco Routing and Switching, AS400, "Block" Phone Switches/IP Telephony, and recently, Virtualization.
Von has found himself on several internal and external committees within Ameristar which is active in the communities of its employees. Von has been part of several active committees including Habitat for Humanity as a member of the committee that funds and assists in building housing for residents unable to afford accommodations; Ameristar Cares, an internal committee that coordinates various events around St. Louis and St. Charles Counties; Charitable Giving which determines where to allocate company funds to assist with programs around St. Louis and St. Charles Counties (i.e. Angel Wings, Our Little Haven, Youth in Need, etc.); Ameristar Green which promotes ways to encourage team members to recycle and run the company operations more efficiently; and member of Ameristar's Peer Review designed to give team members a mediated option to settle grievances within the organization.
"The expression says 'if you love what you do, then you'll never work a day in your life'. It's been 15 years now, and I still enjoy coming to work. I love the people around me. I love my eternally-evolving job. I knew exactly what I would become since I was a preteen playing missile command on an Atari 2600. Attending Ranken was the catalyst in my life that helped me obtain that goal. To the institution, instructors and staff, I am eternally grateful. It's well known that a building is only as strong as the weakest point of its foundation, and Ranken has put underneath me a foundation bred on a hard work ethic, personal maturity (remember the shaving and uniforms?) and skillset which has allowed me to sustain and grow year after year, all while continuing to be successful within such a broad field. Every person has several 'turning points' in their lives, where a decision is made that plays an immeasurable part on where their lives lead. The day I showed up for orientation at Ranken was one of those 'turning points' what I believe to be a right turn in my life."
To try and balance his professional life with the life of a single parent with a teenage daughter, Von follows her school activities, participating in the Parents of Student Athletes board, assisting as a statistician and scorekeeper at school sporting events, as well as volunteering for transportation assistance to and from extracurricular activities. During his down time, Von recently enrolled in Spanish classes to start this summer, discovering new places to eat around St. Louis/St. Charles, and (as the weather gets warmer) riding his motorcycle.
Taken from his nomination form, "Von demonstrates every core value that a great trade school like Ranken Technical College instills in an individual that makes them successful. Von demonstrates characteristics of a professional in all his daily tasks. Leading by example, Von will do everything possible to make sure each issue is resolved. Von is well respected in the company and looked upon favorably by fellow team members as noted by the compliments, positive feedback from surveys and job completion ratings he receives after each task is completed. Von is very hands-on and has no issues showing others how to do the task at hand, thus being a great role model and teacher guiding the next generation of IT professionals to the high standards that Ameristar Casinos, Inc. looks for in all their employees. Ranken Technical College has graduated another fine individual that will leave an everlasting impression of excellence in the community."
Nominations are being accepted for the 2014 awards that will be presented in May 2014.