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2007 Outstanding Alumnus winner stresses sports as empowerment

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association has named Cynthia (Alexander) Doyle Perkins, Indianapolis, as the recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Alumnus Award.

Perkins is a 1977 graduate of Bethel College with a degree in health, physical education and recreation. She earned her M.Ed. from Lamar University and has studied at the University of Texas-Austin and Marion College, Indianapolis.

Perkins has devoted her career to protecting the integrity of high school sport and the students who participate in school activities. Her work at the local, state, national and international level has dealt with tough issues such as equity, diversity, socio-economic impact, safety, sports medicine, hazing, sexual harassment, character development and age appropriate skill development.

She is currently academic dean for the Academy of Academics, Athletics and Achievement (“A” Academy) at Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. From 1999-2005, she was assistant director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), based in Indianapolis. In this position, which included serving as liaison for the NFHS’s national equity committee, Perkins helped high schools across the country work with issues including Title IX enforcement, transgender athletes and compliance with American Disabilities Association standards. She also edited rule books and tests for officials for a variety of high school sporting events

From 1991-99, Perkins worked in several administrative roles in the office of the athletic director of the University Interscholastic League in Austin, Texas. Before that, she taught biology, applied science, adaptive physical education, health and K-12 physical education, coached girls’ basketball, track and cross-country and served one year as a principal in the Beaumont, Texas, public school system.

During her competitive days as a Bethel Thresher, Perkins was a four-year letter winner in volleyball and women’s track and also participated in women’s basketball. She was a member of three KCAC championship volleyball teams and one Kansas Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (KAIAW) championship team. She was named to the KCAC First Team in volleyball in her senior year, the same year that the Threshers went 26-0 in regular season play. Perkins completed her track career holding all or part of 13 women’s track and field records, four of which still stand. In 2004, she was inducted into the Bethel College Athletic Hall of Fame.

While growing up in Newton and North Newton, Perkins was an active member of Hall’s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church and credits her early training as a youth officer and Sunday school teacher with helping her chart a course that would guide her during personal and professional challenges.

While living in Beaumont, Perkins started a Sunday school class in the Plymouth Housing Project as well as a Fellowship of Christian Athlete (FCA) huddle for the local school basketball team. Later, living in Austin and the mother of two daughters, she was one of several parents who chartered an affordable USA Juniors volleyball club. She also opened her home to FCA huddles for Westview Middle School and funded and directed recreation for St. Mary Baptist Church’s Bible school programs.

Also while she was in Austin, Perkins worked with the National Urban League on Vision Tour, a project that enabled Austin inner city youth to travel the Underground Railroad – from Austin to Toronto by way of Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore through Pennsylvania and New York – and eventually back to Africa. Eighty-five youth started the program and at the end of five years, 11 of them had earned the grand prize of an all-expense-paid trip to Africa. Although Perkins was not able to go to Africa herself due to a career change and relocation, she worked with the NCAA to facilitate a service project by Vision Tour participants during the Indiana Black Expo in Indianapolis, the largest health fair in the United States.

In Indianapolis, Perkins worked with local businesses and sport administrators to establish the Indianapolis Girls and Women in Sport Day, an annual event that hosts 300-400 attendees at Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Fever and Indiana Pacers. She joined six other African-American sport administrators to charter Sisters-N-Sport, a program for mentoring middle school girls. Sisters-N-Sport funds and hosts three to four events a year, including an annual wellness program, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Among her many community and volunteer activities, Perkins is also on the USA Volleyball board of directors, serving as vice president for member organizations and relations, and the Olivet Missionary Baptist Church board of trustees and Educational Ministries, and is a member of Pfriends-in-Pfinance, an investment club she founded in 1998.

Perkins married Jerome Doyle, a 1976 Bethel graduate. They had two daughters, Kendra ’04 and Kaitlin (Kentucky State University ’07). In 2001, she married James Perkins Jr., who had three children, Natalie, James III and Jeremiah.

The Outstanding Alumnus Award is given on the basis of character and citizenship, service to church/community or college, or other outstanding achievements, honors and recognition. Perkins will receive the award at the Bethel College Alumni Association annual Alumni Banquet at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 19, in Memorial Hall. For reservations, contact Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center, (316) 284-5205.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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