FEATURED ALUMNI

Our alums are doing great things! We created this 'Featured Alumni' page because we think it is very important for current and potential University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College students to hear from those who have graduated!

MAYA CARTER '96

 

According to Maya Carter, life after Rio “has been a roller coaster.” But that hasn’t stopped this 1996 graduate from becoming the Assistant Director of Campus Recreation/Aquatics Director for the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Involved in just about everything while at Rio, Carter has fond memories of getting her first job on campus as a lifeguard. She worked every year while being a student, and was even Resident Assistant in Boyd Hall, Lyne Center Student Supervisor, Statistician for the Men’s Basketball team, and manager of the Women’s Volleyball team. She said that Rio truly offered her a great sense of work ethic; something that she teaches her students today.

A native of Dayton, OH, Carter currently lives in Spartanburg, SC. She is in year third year of doctoral studies, Carter is pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Higher Education and a certificate in Educational Leadership. She hopes to graduate in 2020.

READ MORE ABOUT MAYA HERE


KEVIN PURCELL '79

Kevin Purcell, a 1979 graduate of the University of Rio Grande, was always very involved on campus. He was a Varsity Baseball team member, scorekeeper for the Men's Basketball team, Lyne Center Summer Life Guard & Pool Maintenance Assistant, drove the bus for the Athletic Department and Grand Chorale, and also was a Campus Student Security Guard. On top of that, Purcell was focused on his studies and obtaining his degree in physical education which led him down a very successful path.

After earning his Bachelor’s Degree from Rio, Purcell attended Eastern Kentucky University and received his Master’s Degree. Shortly thereafter, he came back to his Alma Mater, accepting a Health/Physical Education teaching and Athletic Department coaching position. 

At Rio, Purcell’s coaching responsibilities included leading the Men’s Track and Cross Country programs while serving under John Lawhorn as an Assistant Basketball Coach. After several successful basketball campaigns including two trips to the NAIA National Championship tournament, Purcell was given an opportunity to serve under Billy Hahn; Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Ohio University.

While at Ohio, Hahn & Purcell coached MAC standouts and NBA draft picks Dave Jamerson and Paul “Snoopy” Graham. From Ohio University, Purcell was named Assistant Athletics Director at Miami University where he served under R.C. Johnson. While at Miami, he was part of the Administration that hired two Cradle of Coaches inductees Randy Walker, Football Coach at Miami and Northwestern University; George Gwozdecky, Hockey Coach at Miami, Denver, and the NHL; and Joby Wright, 1992-93 Men’s Basketball MAC Coach of the Year. 

After returning to coaching, Purcell served as an assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at The Citadel and The University of Wyoming. While at Wyoming, Purcell was involved in recruiting and coaching WAC Freshman Player of the Year, Ladrell Whitehead who went on to be a 1st Round NBA Draft Pick, and NBA Top 20 career shot blocker Theo Ratliff. 

Since retiring from coaching, Purcell has dedicated his professional career to sales and business development, now serving as President of Logan Services, the 2nd largest Trane dealer in the United States. He is been married to Steffi Ross since 1979; a past University of Rio Grande Homecoming Queen/Grande Choral Member and daughter of former professors Merlyn and Edie Ross. They have two children, Allison and Robbie, and a daughter in law, Cayla, who reside in Athens, Ohio.

READ MORE ABOUT KEVIN HERE


MAKI KARASAWA '94

During his junior year of high school, Maki Karasawa had a hunch that communicative English abilities would be important in the future, even in his country of Japan. So when it came time for college, Maki found what he was looking for at Rio Grande.

After graduating from a high school in Japan, one that was not a school centered on preparing students to enter prestigious universities, Maki became one of the first students to ever enter an American university. 

As an International Student at the Rio Grande Campus in Japan, Maki immersed himself in the native language. Learning English was the most important element for preparation for his career, since in Japan, English fluency was one of the key elements to have for a successful career.

Upon graduation from Rio in 1994 with his Communication degree in hand, Maki found some difficulties in finding a job due to the deteriorated economy in Japan at the time. The “bubble economy burst” and “everything turned bad”, according to Maki. Under the circumstance, most Japanese companies limited the number of new employment. However, Maki found employment in the trading division of a medical instrument company. During his time with this company, Maki traveled to over 20 countries in seven years.

Today, the proud Rio graduate works for the Nissan Motor Company – the second largest automobile manufacturer in Japan. He is married, and the couple has one son.

Maki enjoys listening to music, and also plays the guitar. His musical interests include Classical, British, American Hard Rock & Heavy Metal. He says music is one of the reasons he started studying English. Today, Maki’s son is practicing the piano, and he looks forward to the day he and his son can play music together. 

READ MORE ABOUT MAKI HERE


PEGGY ANDERSON '96

Growing up just 35 minutes from Rio (Beaver, OH - Pike County), Peggy Anderson chose Rio Grande to pursue her college education because of the intimate setting it provided. A graduate of Eastern High School, Peggy attended Rio on the Atwood Scholarship which made for most of her tuition. In 1996, she graduated with her Bachelor degree in Social Work and pursued her Master's degree at The Ohio State University. 

Peggy's very first professional job was a rural HIV case manager at the Columbus AIDS Task Force. She eventually worked her way up in the organization and became the Chief Operating Officer. Three years later, the company merged with another HIV organization and with it, the $7M budget became a $85M budget in just seven years. 

Today, Peggy lives with her partner of 25 years, Chris, and their cranky cat, Willow. They share a wonderful little house in Clintonville with the most amazing screened in back porch. #pegsporch

Peggy says she adores being an aunt and having a small part in developing the kids into independent thinkers, and she hopes they will hopefully fix the world.

READ MORE ABOUT PEGGY HERE


DAMON KNOCHE '00

After finishing his degree at Rio in 2000, Knoche worked as a classroom teacher and administrator in public education for eight years, serving in various roles that included intervention specialist, athletic director, and alternative school principal. He then had the opportunity to move into the non-profit arena, and served with the YMCA for ten years, nearly six of which as a Branch Executive Director, where he had opportunities to engage in leadership development with professionals all across the country to promote youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility initiatives in my community. Through strong relationships and collaborative partnerships, Knoche established programs that addressed childhood obesity, cancer survivorship, and opportunities for all through inclusive programs such as Miracle League.  

Knoche also worked briefly with the National Kidney Foundation in Cincinnati, where we established partnerships with each of the local transplant center hospitals to drive education around living kidney donation, working to advocate for organ and tissue donation, and supporting those battling kidney disease as they shared their story of their need – some of which found a match, and received life-saving transplants that enable them to continue to live life to the fullest with their family and loved ones.

Today, Knoche serves as the President/CEO of Achieva Resources Corporation in Richmond, Indiana, an area affiliate of The Arc of Indiana and one of only eighteen organizations across Indiana that provide guardianship services for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as those dually diagnosed with mental illnesses. This organization ensures that proper health care services and supports are in place for over 100 individuals, while advocating for their rights to be included in employment, social, and recreational opportunities throughout the community. At the same time, Knoche and the company work with local school districts and families of students with developmental disabilities to provide assessment screenings to those who may have signs of developmental delays, as well as educate families about life after graduation as their loved ones prepare for the transition beyond high school.  

Knoche lives with his wife Samantha, daughter Emeryson in Hamilton, OH. They are eagerly awaiting the birth of their second daughter, Amelia, planned to arrive at the end of September. 

READ MORE ABOUT DAMON HERE