Each year, Clarke recognizes alumni for personal, professional, and humanitarian achievements by bestowing Distinguished Alumni Awards. The following awards were presented during homecoming brunch on Saturday, October 12.
Outstanding Achievement Award - Presented for outstanding professional achievement and success.
Billie Larkin's passion for helping others is undeniable. She attributes her visionary way of thinking to Clarke. For the last 20 years, Billie, of Bloomingdale, IL, Class of ’70, has been involved with the National Children's Alliance movement for children who have been sexually or physically abused.
She and her staff provide prevention education and multidisciplinary services to children who have suffered abuse. She has passed two important pieces of legislation in Illinois during her tenure, one in 2007 for fees and fines for criminal payment to child advocacy centers and most recently, Erin's Law. Erin's law provides for prevention education to pre-K through fifth grade, going into effect in August of 2013.
Humanitarian Service Award - Presented for exceptional service to humanity through civic, faith-based, or educational endeavors.
Takada Dixon-Epps, of Chicago, Class of ’93, is a humanitarian in the truest sense of the word. After graduating from Clarke, Takada created a nonprofit organization called Phase I Fitness, dedicated to helping children escape abusive households. Phase I Fitness is based on the peace, trust, humility, and sense of family she felt while a Clarke student.
Takada's Phase I Fitness organization teaches coping skills; educates individuals on healthy lifestyles and suicide prevention; provides training and workshops; and offers a “dress for success” program with clothing from Takada's personal wardrobe. Takada recently added a new program to Phase I Fitness to provide clothing and toys to children whose parents are incarcerated. Takada is personally invested in these programs and personally gift wraps the items, takes photos of the children opening the gifts, and mails the photos to their parents. In addition to her work with Phase I Fitness, she is a volunteer with House of Hope, Clara's House, Public Image Partnership, and the Phalanx Youth Program.
Takada has also starred in the movies A Vulture City and The Interrupters, a documentary on the efforts to stop violence in Chicago.
Rising Star Award - Presented for alums 35 years of age and younger who have made an impact in their career, community, or contributions to Clarke.
Ted Goergen, of Pleasant Prairie, WI, Class of ’01, is truly a rising star. Personally and professionally, Ted models social responsibility, global awareness, and personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth. The responsibility and necessity to serve others was the most important value Ted learned while at Clarke.
Ted has spent his professional career in education. His teaching career began at Washington Middle School in Dubuque as a seventh-grade science teacher. After completing his first graduate degree, he moved closer to home to teach biology at Adlai E. Stevenson High School. After three years as a classroom instructor, he felt called to serve a greater purpose and impact more students. Ted was promoted to the position of Community Service Coordinator at Stevenson High School. He spent two years developing Stevenson's service programs and then assumed the administrative position of director of Student Activities at Stevenson. He trains hundreds of student leaders at Stevenson and across the state of Illinois each year.
During the 2012-13 school year, Stevenson students logged nearly 75,000 hours of community service and raised almost $250,000 for various charities.