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Hendrix Alumni Association Announces Award Recipients

CONWAY, Ark. (March 16, 2018) — The Hendrix College Alumni Association will honor three alumni, Rosalia Valdez Block ’10, Rose Thomson Gastler ’12, and Joan Davis Wagnon ’62, along with Helen S. Plotkin, at the Alumni Association Awards Brunch to be held Saturday, April 21 at 10 a.m., in Worsham Student Performance Hall in the Student Life and Technology Center. The brunch is part of the College’s Alumni Weekend festivities.

The Alumni Association Award honorees are:

rose thomson gastler_DSC_3469web.jpg2018 Hendrix Humanitarian Award — Rose Thomson Gastler ’12

Rose Thomson Gastler is program coordinator for Yuwa India, which works with girls from impoverished families in rural Jharkhand, India — where girls are at risk of child marriage and human trafficking. Now one of the largest girls’ soccer programs in India, Yuwa uses team sports and education to build character, confidence, and courage, preparing girls to achieve goals, create brighter futures, and break the cycle of poverty permanently. In 2015, Thomson Gastler co-founded Yuwa School, where she serves as education director. Yuwa School gives girls the tools they need to become empowered citizens, discover their own identity, and prepare for admission to universities in India and abroad. Girls ages 6 to 18 learn from world-class educators from India and abroad, and are supported by a long list of dedicated volunteers.

PlotkinHelen-20160720-09132633web.jpg2018 James E. Major Service Award — Helen S. Plotkin

After 22 years of “telling the Hendrix story,” Vice President for Marketing Communications Helen S. Plotkin retired from the College in 2017. During her tenure, she helped to organize and publicize the opening of the Charles D. Morgan Center for Physical Sciences, the Donald W. Reynolds Center for Life Sciences, six student residence houses, the Bertie Wilson Murphy House, the Wellness and Athletics Center, the Student Life and Technology Center, and Young-Wise Memorial Stadium and Plaza. She also oversaw the publication of three strategic plans, support material for two capital campaigns, and five major redesigns of the College website.

2018 Outstanding Young Alumni Award — Rosalia Valdez Block ’10RosieValdezBlockWeb

Rosie Valdez Block, director of Debate and chair of the Communication Department at Little Rock Central High School, has taught and coached competitive debate since 2011, coaching 28 state titles. She is vice president of the Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association, a Diamond Coach with the National Speech and Debate Association, and chairs the National Speech and Debate Association’s Arkansas District. In 2016, she coached a national finalist at the Tournament of Champions, as well as the Top Speaker in the country. She has received the City Education Trust Stephens Award, Little Rock School District Teacher of the Year, Arkansas Communication and Theatre Arts Association Teacher of the Year, and the Doug Duke Outstanding Debate Coach Award. Most recently, she was one of five finalists for the National Speech and Debate Association Educator of the Year Award.

JoanDavisWagnonWeb2017 Distinguished Alumna Award — Joan Davis Wagnon ’62

Joan Davis Wagnon’s career in nonprofit management led her into politics and becoming a recognized expert in tax policy. She has served as interim CEO of the YWCA of Northeast Kansas, executive director of the Topeka YWCA, and executive director of Kansas Families for KIDS, a position she left to become Mayor of Topeka. She served 12 years in the Kansas Legislature, and as Secretary of Revenue for the State of Kansas under two governors. Her interest in politics stemmed from the work she did at the YWCA advocating for women, children and families; she authored many pieces of legislation related to domestic violence, child-care, and education. She also served as chair of the Kansas Democratic Party and treasurer of the Girl Scouts of the USA. After leaving public service in 2011 she worked for the Federal Tax Authority, a start-up company providing tax calculation and remittance services for online merchants, representing the company before Congress as they sought to enact the Main Street Fairness Act. She retired in 2016 and continues to volunteer for numerous community organizations.


About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit