BETHANY, W.Va. – Four distinguished alumni credited Bethany College for their career and personal success during the college’s annual alumni awards dinner.
The event, which is part of Bethany’s homecoming celebration, honored Cheryl Ryan Harshman ’74, Rick Jackson ’78, Stephen Ruben ’70 and Megan Tarbett ’00.
Alumni Council President Angie Bado ’77 introduced the recipients and presented each with a framed print of Old Main. The alumni association voted on the honorees.
“Choosing the recipients of the Alumni Awards is one of the most exciting and, at the same time, really challenging and tough aspects of serving on the council,” Bado said. “Aren’t we fortunate that we have such established, accomplished alumni?”
Harshman, Jackson and Ruben received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, while Tarbett received the Outstanding Community Service Award.
Harshman is a children’s book author, visual artist and the director of Sandscrest Episcopal Conference and Retreat Center in Wheeling, W.Va. In 2018, she retired from West Liberty University’s Elbin Library and previously worked at libraries in Moundsville, W.Va., Pittsburgh and New Haven, Conn. Her children’s books include “Christmas Morning,” “Sally Arnold” and “Red Are the Apples” (with husband, Marc Harshman). In addition, galleries, museums, exhibitions across the region have accepted her prints and paintings.
“Thank you to the Alumni Council for this acknowledgment and this grand honor,” Harshman said. “I remember homecoming weekends as a student here, all those old people on campus. Here I am visiting campus – how is that even possible? Being here transports me immediately back through the decades.”
Jackson is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience as an anchor and reporter on network and local television, and public radio. He is the host of “The Sound of Ideas” and “NewsDepth” on WVIZ/PBS in Cleveland. He is a member of the Ohio Broadcasting Hall of Fame and is featured in the college’s Communications and Media Arts Wall of Fame.
Jackson’s 92-year-old mother joined several family members in attendance for the ceremony. The event marked the first time she had been on campus since her son graduated.
“There is a song we sing in church, ‘A Firm Foundation,’ written in the 1700s. Aside from the religious aspects of that hymn, that firm foundation really is what Bethany is all about,” Jackson said. “It’s applied that to me and thousands of others who walk through those gates [and took] classes in this building behind us.”
He shared his experience broadcasting live about the crash of TWA Flight 800 for CBS News in 1996. He and another Bethany alumnus, Bob Orr ‘75, an aviation correspondent for CBS, brought the news of the crash to the national audience.
Ruben is the managing director of the Ruben Law Firm in San Francisco and is a Certified Family Law Specialist through the California Board of Legal Specialization. He’s regularly held the distinction of “Northern California Super Lawyer” for his work in family law. In 2019, the Family Law Institute named Ruben its California Family Law Litigator of the Year.
When questioned about his decision to enter family law with divorces and “people at each other’s throats,” Ruben said a family lawyer can make all the difference by serving as a counselor.
He shared his experience studying abroad his junior at the University of Copenhagen at a time when the United States was at the height of the Vietnam War.
“Everybody was complaining, oh, you’re having all these riots, we’re having all these things,” Ruben said. “We’re a diversified country. We’re not homogeneous. We have to live with each other. We have to accept each other. We have to learn from each other.”
Tarbett is the director of the Putnam County Library System in Hurricane, W.Va. She serves such organizations as the West Virginia Humanities Council, Leadership Putnam County, Leadership West Virginia and Generation Charleston, and is past president of the West Virginia Library Association. She also works weekends as a DJ on Electric 102.7 in Charleston and is a co-founder of Mardi Bras, an annual underwear drive for shelters.
Tarbett said that Bethany excels at teaching students that failure does happen, but what matters is what you do when you fail.
“It taught me how to think and how to move on when you’re in that hole, you pick yourself up, get back on that windy Route 88,” she said. “Because your path forward is not straight, right? It is these windy roads. … Bethany doesn’t teach you what to think, it teaches you how to think and how to adapt to what is coming to you. And that is the lesson I take the most definitely. And I appreciate it every day.”
ABOUT BETHANY COLLEGE
Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.