The caption beside Flo Williams’ picture in the 1967 Veterropt reads, “Miss Wesleyan is selected not only for possession of the qualities of leadership, loyalty, and service to the college, she is considered to be the personification of the Wesleyan ideal.” Now, fifty years later, Flo still embodies the Wesleyan ideals of leadership, loyalty and service to her alma mater as well as to her local church and community.
In her years at Wesleyan, Flo was tirelessly involved in sports, in the YWCA, in class Stunts, in drama productions, and with the campus newspaper. Nevertheless, she maintained an impressive academic record, graduating with a major in Physical Education and minors in Biology and Religion. And there was always time for her to cultivate friendships. As her classmates wrote in nominating her for an Alumnae Service Award, “Upon graduation, her list of honors was exceeded only by her long list of friends.” Still today, Flo Douglas Williams is the glue that holds her class together, encouraging them to return for reunions, involving them in the Wesleyan of today, and reminding them to give of their own resources for the good of the College. For five decades, she has been instrumental in bringing her classmates back to Wesleyan for reunions, strengthening the bonds forged during their campus days and heightening their appreciation and support for the unique place of “The Oldest and Best” in the continued education for women.
Wherever Flo and her husband Curt Douglas have lived, Flo has found ways to be involved with Wesleyan. In Brunswick, she was active in the Golden Isles Wesleyan Alumnae Club, planning fundraising events, organizing admissions parties for prospective students, representing Wesleyan at various college fairs, and returning to the College campus to serve as a Candlelighter for graduating seniors from Brunswick.
Upon Curt’s retirement and the couple’s move to Milledgeville, Flo found proximity to Macon quite an advantage, and her involvement with the College increased. Elected to the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association Board of Managers, Flo served for three years as Member-at-Large for Alumnae Weekend, planning activities and events that keep Wesleyan women coming back to their college home through the years. During a second three year term on the Board of Managers, Flo served as Vice President for Admissions, helping found the Welcome to Wesleyan program for potential students, and enabling her to spark meaningful conversation among admissions counselors, alumnae, and church leaders regarding effective recruitment practices.
Flo’s dedication to her church and community is also noteworthy. With a master’s degree in Education, she has worked as a school counselor and as a mental health professional in a prison and in a youth detention facility. In her church, among other things, she serves as lay leader and as a member of the choir, and spearheads the Walk to Emmaus. Her pastor sums up her involvement in this manner: “Flo not only...goes with the flow of the church’s ministry, she often creates the flow!”
For her tireless devotion to her alma mater, her dedication to strengthening the bonds of alumnae sisterhood, and her carrying the Wesleyan ideals of leadership, loyalty and service into her community and church life, the Wesleyan Alumnae Association is delighted to honor Flo Williams Douglas for Distinguished Service to Wesleyan.
If “all the world’s a stage,” as Shakespeare wrote, then Jean Middlebrooks Morris must be its leading player. For Jean, the civility of the arts refines each of us as human beings. Thus, she has devoted her entire life to making us more enlightened, particularly through theatre art.
A 1957 graduate of Wesleyan College, Jean’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting served as the foundation for her work spanning sixty years throughout nine states. As an actress, writer, teacher, fundraiser, and musician, she contributed her talents in every city and town in which she lived.
Following her Wesleyan graduation, Jean refined her acting skills in Atlanta at Theater of the Stars and the Peachtree Playhouse. Her work positioned her for becoming a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Soon she was off to New York City to perform in Broadway and off-Broadway productions, to work in television commercials and films, and to appear in leading roles in New Jersey and Ohio.
The next stop on Jean’s journey was Pennsylvania where she not only performed locally, but also broadened her skills by becoming an active fundraiser for local events and philanthropic organizations, and in promoting tourism. Jackson, Mississippi, became Jean’s next stage where she returned to acting and helped establish the Theater Center of Mississippi, improving artistic offerings to local communities. She judged student debates and the Junior Miss Pageant while also instructing local young performers.
Returning to her hometown of Thomaston, Georgia, provided Jean with countless opportunities including coaching theater arts at Wesleyan College, working with Macon’s Little Theater, teaching in Wesleyan’s Summer Arts Program and the Governor’s Honors Program. During this time, Jean met and married Ralph Morris of the Thomaston Times. His career transferred them to Missouri and later back to Middle Georgia. Throughout this period, although an active volunteer and a writer for the newspapers, Jean also found time to work with local actors and to participate in local theater productions. Their next move to Highlands, North Carolina, afforded her the chance to become involved with Art Walk and the Highlands Playhouse where she returned to stage performance. In 1995, Jean founded the Highlands Community Players, a local theater group that remains active today. She initiated dinner theater productions in Cashiers, Highlands, and Sapphire Valley, and starred in more than 25 plays and musicals. In 2005, The Highlands Community Players honored Jean with its Founders Award at its tenth anniversary celebration. Although now retired in Phenix City, Alabama, Jean remains an active volunteer with theater performances in Columbus, Georgia, and through church productions.
Jean is descended from a long line of Wesleyannes, including Bishop George Foster Pierce, Wesleyan’s first president. This legacy continued when Jean’s daughter, Karen Toner Mixon, became a Wesleyan student in the class of 1985. Jean’s devotion and support for Wesleyan College has remained strong throughout her life, and she has served her alma mater once again as a member of her class’s 60th Reunion Committee.
For enhancing cultural activities with artistic contributions in theater, music, and writing throughout the communities in which she has lived and for her faithful devotion to her alma mater, the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association presents the award for Distinguished Service to the Community to Jean Middlebrooks Morris.
In her professional position as Assistant Vice President of Corporate Communications, Business Development, and Corporate Affairs for Navicent Health, Cyndey Costello Busbee ’92 is charged with leading the marketing, public relations, and public affairs and information for one of the largest health care systems in Georgia. Cyndey’s professional accomplishments and passion for her work are matched by what a colleague has called her “fierce advocacy for our community,” which has found expression in her volunteer board service across an dizzying array of organizations in Macon and the Central Georgia area.
Cyndey has served on the board of Career Women’s Network; the Cherry Blossom Festival, serving as festival chair in 2012-13; Education First; Georgia Women of Achievement, serving as president from 2010 to 2012; the Grand Opera House; the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce; Historic Macon; the William S. Hutchings College and Career Center of the Bibb County School System; Macon Economic Development Council; Macon Volunteer Clinic; Ronald McDonald House; Rotary Club, serving as president of the Downtown Macon Club in 2008-09 and Assistant Governor for District 6920 from 2010 to 2012; and United Way. She is a member of the Leadership Macon Class of 2005 and the Leadership Georgia Class of 2009. Cyndey’s particular passion has been her advocacy for public education at all levels.
Cyndey’s contributions in all her various volunteer roles have garnered the recognition of her colleagues. She was named Rotarian of the Year in 2005-06, named to Macon Magazine’s 5 Under 40 in 2006, and was honored with the Career Women’s Network’s Woman of Achievement award in 2015. Ruth Knox, who has worked directly with Cyndey on three boards, said, “In each case she was the most outstanding member of the board. She always is prepared, always knows the issues, and always knows how to set goals and make sure they are accomplished. She is among the most impressive women I have ever known.” Ruth cited Cyndey’s work as president of Georgia Women of Achievement when, after the executive director resigned, Cyndey simply took over those responsibilities and ran the organization, all while having her own demanding full-time job and a family.
As a resident of Macon, Cyndey’s record of distinguished community service extends to her alma mater, from which she earned two degrees. In addition to her bachelor’s degree in 1992, Cyndy earned her MBA in 2014.
In her nine years on Wesleyan’s Board of Visitors she has assisted with fundraising and internships. She has served as reunion chair for her class, has shared her experiences with students at convocations, has hosted events for the Macon alumnae club, and has delivered the commencement address at the EMBA graduation ceremony. As a steadfast supporter of the Annual Fund and member of Wesleyan’s Society for the Twenty-First Century, Cyndey was recently the subject of the “Why I Give” profile in the Wesleyan Magazine.
For her years of committed service and advocacy in the Macon community, for her dedication to excellence in all that she does, and for exemplifying the ideals of the Wesleyan Woman, the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association presents the Alumnae Award for Distinguished Service to the Community to Cyndey Costello Busbee, Class of 1992.
After graduating from Wesleyan, summa cum laude, with a major in psychology and double minors in interpersonal communication and women’s studies, Robyn earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Oregon in 2012. Today Robyn is a licensed clinical psychologist, trauma researcher, and a tenure-track assistant professor of community health in the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s department of Kinesiology and Community Health. She has completed internships and fellowships affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston University, the University of California San Diego, and Brown University among others.
At Wesleyan, Robyn served as president and vice president of Psi Chi National Psychology Honor Society, and in 2006, received the psychology department’s Excellence in Psychology award. A fellow of the American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program, she has been an advocate for diversity within the field of psychology through her involvement in national organizations. She has extensive research and clinical training in interpersonal trauma, women’s mental health, and veteran’s issues. Robyn has shared her experience as a woman of color in higher education in newsletters and health education radio interviews, been involved in planning a diversity-training workshop for therapists, co-written grants to support diversity training and research, and helped organize events on campuses across the country to foster a sense of community among graduate students of color. During Alumnae Weekend 2016, Robyn spoke to Wesleyan psychology students about her career journey.
Robyn is committed to using research to educate the public and inform federal policy. She has received psychology advocacy training and participated in advocacy on Capitol Hill, educating Congress about key issues impacting psychology as a healthcare profession. She hopes her service and advocacy will enhance diversity within the field and promote social justice and well-being in marginalized communities.
A widely-published and highly-sought-after speaker, Robyn also provides daily inspiration and encouragement to more than four thousand social media followers. She has held leadership positions in the Association of Black Psychologists, APA’s Society for the Psychology of Black Women, APA Division of Trauma Psychology, and the National Black Graduate Student Association. “Overall, my brand is about helping women and girls transform themselves from the inside out. I integrate my multiple, overlapping identities as an African American woman, fashion lover, trauma researcher, professor, and clinician to inspire others to reach their fullest potential.”
Robyn developed a smart phone app called TransformU Quotes and Reflections to assist people who want to elevate their lives to the next level. Through the use of inspirational quotes, reflections, and behavioral challenges, app users are invited to create the lives they want by changing their mindset and making small changes that get them closer to living their best lives.
Recently chosen to participate in the Limited store’s national campaign featuring women leaders, The Limited’s Leading Looks Like Campaign, Robyn said her mission is to stress that “Fashion can help with (personal) transformation and serve as a vehicle for reflecting your inner light…it also sends a powerful message about who you are… Your style can play a huge role in helping you to project an image that truly reflects your brand.”
For her passion to inspire people around the world to transform themselves inside and out; for her effort to challenge others to dream big and live boldly; and for empowering women to face their fears, the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association proudly presents the Young Alumna Award to Dr. Robyn L. Gobin, Class of 2006.
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