Presenting the 2023 Baylor Alumni Award winners
Baylor graduates make an impact in virtually any field you can think of; this year’s Baylor Alumni Award winners are no different, with recipients leading the charge in fields as diverse as the military, space exploration, community service, and Texas Baptist life.
Congratulations to this year’s honorees:
Alumnus of the Year: Maj. Gen. Joel Carey (BA ’92), director of operations, strategic deterrence and nuclear integration for the U.S. Air Force in Europe and Africa. A 29-year Air Force veteran (and former Baylor football player), Carey’s career includes serving as commander of a fighter squadron, vice commander of two air expeditionary wings, and commander of three wings, including the Air Force’s largest overseas combat wing.
Young Alumna of the Year: Richa Sirohi (BS ’18), end-to-end information systems engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Since earning her mechanical engineering degree from Baylor, Sirohi has worked on such NASA projects as the Mars Perseverance Rover and a Lunar Mission Concept; she now works on communication architecture for the NISAR project (an advanced radar imaging satellite system). In 2021, she received the NASA-JPL Bruce Murray Award for her work in educational outreach in schools.
Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service: Dr. David Hardage (BA ’79), retired Executive Director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. For the past 11 years, Hardage led the BGCT in its work to support local churches, missions efforts and more. Hardage’s career has long ben engaged in denominational life, including stints as a trustee at East Texas Baptist University, director of development at Baylor’s Truett Seminary, chair of multiple BGCT commissions, and pastor at churches in Texas and Oklahoma.
Pro Texana Medal of Service: Dr. Alan (BA ’92) and Vicki (BA ’92) Keister, a physician and physical therapist (respectively) who have led out in providing free care to Amarillo residents in need. In 2013, Alan began offering free health screenings at Amarillo schools; the overwhelming response led to the creation of the Heal The City free clinic, which now exemplify Christ’s love and hope by serving thousands of patients each year.
W.R. White Meritorious Service Award: Allison Dickson (JD ’07), a Central Texas lawyer, volunteer, and philanthropist whose motto (“I don’t need easy. I just need possible”) has inspired countless others. Diagnosed with Werdnig-Hoffman Muscular Dystrophy when she was 15 months old and given only a year to live, Dickson has instead thrived — graduating No. 1 in her class from Baylor Law, establishing multiple scholarships, and organizing multiple community service efforts to serve her hometown of Temple.
Distinguished Achievement Award: the late Dr. John Cheng (BA ’91), who died a hero last May when he tackled a gunman who had opened fire at a California church. Widely known for his kindness, Cheng was a medical director in Southern California who encouraged his staff to approach their medical practice with attention to the whole person. On May 15, 2022, Cheng charged a gunman who attacked the parishioners of Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, allowing others to subdue the shooter and saving dozens of lives.
Merrie Beckham Alumni By Choice of the Year: Marie Chiles (ABC ’86). For more than 50 years, Marie and her husband, John (BBA ’50, JD ’52), have been among Baylor’s most loyal benefactors. The Chiles are longtime advocates of Baylor Law School, the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, and the Mayborn Museum Complex. Marie serves as a devoted member of the LHSON Board of Advocates, where she and her husband established the Dean’s Good Samaritan Fund and donated three simulators to equip Baylor nursing graduates.
Sic ’em, Bears!