Five individuals were recognized during the University of Pikeville’s Alumni Awards Banquet for their outstanding achievements and commitment to the University.
“We are so pleased for our alumni award recipients,” said Eric A. Becher, Ph.D., vice president for development. “The five honorees embody what is best and brightest about our alumni and friends of the University.”
Anna Ignatenko Garcia and David Short were recognized as Rising Alumni for their professional achievements, pursuit of excellence early in their careers and the commitment and positive impact they have made in service to others.
Originally from Kazakhstan, Garcia first came to the United States as a high school exchange student. After graduating, due to restrictions to her visa, she returned to Kazakstan for two years where she attended American University in Central Asia and took courses toward obtaining a four-year business administration degree. She returned to UPIKE as a junior and received a bachelor of arts degree graduating Summa Cum Laude with a 4.0 GPA. She began working for Johnson Industries Inc., in Pikeville, as an international sales assistant serving as an interpreter and translator. Garcia attended the University of Kentucky College of Law, in Lexington, Ky., graduating with an emphasis in corporate law. She was the first UK College of Law student to select her own individualized study abroad program working in the master of laws in private international legal practice at the Instituto de Empresa, Madrid, Spain.
Following his college career, Short entered the financial service industry where he has remained throughout his career. A strong believer in lifelong learning, he has continued his education in financial services at The American College and the Institute of Business and Finance. Short is a certified financial planner, a chartered financial consultant, a certified fund specialist, and holds various other industry designations and licenses. He has also earned a master’s of science degree in financial services. Short is a managing partner of Investments and Financial Planning, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor located in Lexington, Ky.
State Representative Leslie Combs was presented with the Honorary Alumni Award. The award is presented to individuals who are not graduates, but whose service reflects the spirit and tradition of the University of Pikeville. Representative Combs serves the 94th District of Harlan, Letcher and Pike Counties and embodies the strong ethical and family values of her constituency. A model for Kentucky’s citizen-legislator, Combs has risen quickly to become a highly-respected member of the General Assembly. She serves as chair of the tourism and energy committee, vice chair on both the transportation committee and the budget review subcommittee on general government, finance and public protection, as well as being a member of the education, military affairs and public safety, state government and tourism and economic development committees. Before her public service, Combs spent 23 years as an administrator at UPIKE.
Pike County Judge/Executive Wayne T. Rutherford received the Distinguished Alumni Award, presented to alumni whose contributions have enriched the lives of others and who bring honor and distinction to the individuals, their families and the University of Pikeville. As a young, first-term county judge, Rutherford traveled to Frankfort with an idea that has brought billions of dollars to Kentucky’s budget, Pike County and other coal-producing counties for development. This idea of coal severance tax will continue to bring money to the state and coal counties for years to come. He is proud of his Appalachian heritage and often reminds others of the region’s natural mountain beauty and being the number one producer of coal and natural gas in Kentucky. Rutherford is a historian, and under his innovative leadership, Pike County has garnered 31 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards and he has been the leader in the fight against the scourge of drugs in central Appalachia.
The University of Pikeville Alumni Association also recognized Kay Hammond with the Gary Thrash Outstanding Ambassador Award. Named for the alumnus and longtime board member, the award is presented to recipients whose service to the college and alumni association exemplifies Thrash’s dedication to UPIKE’s mission. Hammond serves as the director of the Appalachian Pregnancy Care Center in Pikeville. As she tirelessly works to provide passionate care and support to women experiencing pregnancy-related crises, she continues to serve her alma mater in a spiritual role as director of UPIKE’s Baptist Campus Ministry. She is in demand as a conference speaker regarding Christian women’s issues, including conducting workshops and lectures at Kentucky Baptist Convention events and speaking to non-denominational groups throughout the state. Hammond is passionate in her service to the community, especially its youth, and is diligent in her efforts to help people in need.
Caption: Five individuals were recognized during University of Pikeville’s Alumni Awards Banquet for their outstanding achievements and commitment to the University. Pictured, from left, Rutherford, Short, Hammond, Combs and Garcia.