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Distinguished Alumni Honored

October 28, 2011

By Karen Mowls

On Oct. 21, Cleveland State added nine names to its list of Distinguished Alumni in an awards event at the Intercontinental Hotel & Conference Center.

The Alumni Association has honored 143 since 1990, when it began recognizing graduates who achieved great personal achievements in addition to a real commitment to humanity.

The event took place in a beautifully decorated ballroom. A spiral staircase led to a foyer, where guests enjoyed a wine pour, accompanied by live piano music.

Everyone gathered into the main ballroom and found their numbered tables.
Attendees included Eileen Berlin Ray, professor of Communication, and her husband George Ray, director of the School of Communication. Leo Jeffres, professor of Communication, also attended.

Guests enjoyed a delicious, three-course-meal consisting of salad, chicken with capers, and a dessert cake.

CSU President Ronald M. Berkman took the stage to welcome guests and alumni. He pointed out that alumnus Monte Ahuja was in attendance. Ahuja donated $10 million to CSU this year. The Monte Ahuja College of Business was renamed after the successful entrepreneur.

Each of the newly honored alumni presented a video they created, which detailed their achievements and how CSU prepared them for the business world they have all thrived in, along with some heartfelt memories of attending the school.

Aaron T. Ellington was honest about his past views on school. In his video, he said that he wasn’t the best student and did not enjoy high school.
“College isn’t high school. Try it first, and then decide if it’s for you,” Ellington said. He added: “I love Cleveland. That’s why I’m proud to say I’m a Cleveland State graduate to anyone.”

Ellington is the director of the Dual Diagnosis Adolescent Treatment Program at University Hospitals, while also practicing clinic psychology at Behavioral Health Services of Greater Cleveland. He also took part in designing CSU’s chemical dependency certificate program.
Maria Keckan is president of Cinecraft Productions, Inc., a company that creates e-learning for corporate communication. She credited Jeffres with “opening my eyes on how to interview people.”

Keckan said when she and her husband were starting their business, they made a lot of sacrifices. Banks laughed at them, and they went into debt. She said they weren’t making any money the first few years of business. She told the audience that she is an example of how perseverance can pay off in the end.

Ray said the award is a fine honor for Keckan, and it reflected positively on the School of Communication.

“It is impressive that she majored in COM in the 1970s and then made a video production company; an outgrowth of her education at Cleveland State. That’s almost a dream for some of the graduates. She’s living the communication dream,” he said.

Other honorees were Richard P. Stovsky, Linda M. Kane, Joseph A. Williams, Ian N. Friedman, Beth Sersig, Madeline A. Cain, and Nancy M. Albert.

Berkman welcomed all honorees and posed for pictures. Student representatives and professors also attended.