By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
The Killeen Independent School District celebrated four distinguished alumni at a foundation donor reception Thursday at Nolan Middle School.
The reception recognized what KISD Superintendent Jim Hawkins called, "The Best of KISD" – alumni who achieved notable success in their chosen professions.
"In education you don't always get a return investment immediately," Hawkins said. "This tells us that investments made years ago have come to fruition."
The honorees were Joel Regan Carter, Lillian Ann (Wolf) Farris, Randy Perlis and Beverly (Higgs) White.
Perlis and White traveled from Colorado and California, respectively, to attend the reception.
White, a 1977 Killeen High School graduate, credited Killeen and its school district with opening her eyes to the world.
"It helped me dream big," White said.
Growing up in a diverse Army community exposed White to people from all over the world and whetted her appetite for seeing the world, which she said was made possible by her career in broadcast journalism and stints at news stations in places such as Temple, San Antonio, Cincinnati, Miami and currently at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles.
Carter, a 1978 KHS graduate, described Killeen in a similar fashion.
"When I was a student ... I didn't appreciate the quality of an education with the diverse group of teachers, really, from all over the world," Carter said. "The fact is that Killeen is a world city, a melting pot. To have that kind of diversity in the school district prepared me for international business."
Carter, currently of Argyle, near Fort Worth, has won several international awards as chief marketing officer for Innovation First, a technology company. Carter also served as a vice president for RadioShack Corp.
Perlis, a 1973 KHS graduate, traveled from his home in Colorado to the city where he first realized what he wanted to do in his future career.
"It's an honor to still be remembered after all that time," Perlis said. "Back in junior high school, that's when I decided to become a chemist."
He credited teachers that made challenging science-related subjects such as chemistry, not only less intimidating, but also fascinating.
Perlis is a principal scientist and hazardous materials safety chemist for URS and has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency involving many hazardous materials incidents and homeland security issues.
Farris, a 1968 KHS graduate, was the only alum honored Thursday who still resides in the Killeen area.
She attributed friends, family and the Killeen community with supporting her success.
"Anything I did, I did standing on their shoulders," Farris said.
In addition to being a college professor, Farris was an educator with KISD for 32 years and retired a few years ago after serving as deputy superintendent, said KISD Education Foundation Director Dawn Parnell.
Parnell said that the board made the selections among KISD graduates of 10 or more years past who serve as active role models for students.
Thursday's event also recognized education foundation grant winners and the donors that provided the grants. The event came on the heels of a foundation milestone, as it was announced in February that more than $500,000 in grants had been provided since 2002 to KISD through the foundation.
The KISD Alumni Association, a wing of the KISD Education Foundation, organized the event.
Olga Pena contributed to this article.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254)501-7468