NGU Honors 2017 Alumni and Friend of The Year
Three North Greenville University alumni and friend were honored by the university’s alumni association during an awards ceremony held on the campus during a chapel service on Wednesday, April19.
Chris Brank, a 2009 alumnus from Simpsonville, was named distinguished alumnus of the year, Eddie Fisher from Travelers Rest and the class of 2003 was awarded the alumnus of the year honor, Kayla Morgan from Travelers Rest and the class of 2012 was recognized with the alumni association president’s award, and Jack Connors, general manager of WLOS-TV and WMYA-TV from Asheville, was named friend of the year.
Brank, the recipient of the distinguished alumni award, was recognized as an alumnus and for distinguished accomplishments that have brought recognition to the university. He is the owner of Let People See, one of the largest full-service video production companies in the southeast, located in Greenville, S.C.
Since the company’s inception in2011, Brank has employed over 15 NGU alumni. He is always enthusiastic to speak to university communication classes when asked and has donated much of his work to the university. One of his team’s latest video creations can be seen on the front page of the university’s website [ngu.edu].
“I made a lot of friendships while I was here. North Greenville is awesome at that. It [friendships] take you far in business and in ministry. And some of those friendships were because of Ultimate Frisbee,” said Brank. “So, thank you to Jesus, North Greenville, and Ultimate Frisbee.”
Born in Asheville, N.C., Brank began creating comedy short films in college. After attending NGU, he became a youth pastor, continuing to make fun and comical films tailored to promoting camps or events. Eventually,parents in his church approached him about making videos for their businesses,and Chris Brank Films was born.
As the work quickly grew, Brank brought others on board to tackle larger projects for clients such as Thomas’ Bagels, Snuggle, Coldwell Banker Caine, and Spinx. The team has since gained regional and national recognition and has won several American Advertising Awards for its commercial productions. In 2016, Brank moved under the banner of Let People See to embody a new vision for clients and the growth of the business. He loves to take clients from zero to video, and it's a creative problem he is always willing to work through. His main goal is for Let People See to never stop producing excellent work that exceeds expectations.
Brank’s wife, Corine Bratcher Brank, is a 2014 alumna and a member of Let People See creative team. They love long walks together with their dog, Charlie.
The alumni of the year award was presented to Eddie Fisher, a 2003 graduate. The recipient of this honor is a graduate and recognized for providing significant service to the university through their involvement as a volunteer in university and/or association activities. He was nominated for this award by former and current NGU staff members.
Fisher graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication with an emphasis in broadcasting. He has worked for the university since his graduation serving as the university’s media minister and emergency medical response team (EMRT) director. He also serves as the chair of the commission board, chaplain, and public information officer for the Tigerville Fire Department.
He married Andrea Powell Fisher, a 2008 alumna. They have two children: Anna (age 6) and Matthew (age 3), a dog (Woodstock) and a fish (Elliot). They attend Fairview Baptist Church in Greer, S.C. where Fisher runs the sound board for services on Sunday mornings.
“I am very thankful for this honor. I enjoy teaching and mentoring students to become the best at what God has called them to do with their lives,” said Fisher. “I love watching them learn and grow into young adults and professionals and seeing them flourish in their chosen careers.”
Kayla Morgan, a 2012 alumna and secretary for the alumni association board of directors, is the recipient of the alumni association’s president’s award. This award is given a member of the alumni board of directors for their contributions to the alumni association.
Morgan, from Travelers Rest, has worked as the Development Operations Assistant in the NGU Office of Development since 2016. Prior to working at NGU, she worked for the Bank of Travelers Rest in Travelers Rest.
“My prayer is that I can be a small part in the lives of others so that they can experience the great Christian environment and family at NGU,” said Morgan.
Lastly, the 2017 friend of the year award was presented to Jack Connors, general manager of WLOS-TV and WMYA-TV in the Asheville/Greenville/Spartanburg television market. This award is given to an individual who has not attended the university, but is recognized for their outstanding service.
Connors has been a great friend to the university’s College of Communication. He is always willing to speak to communication classes, has donated media equipment totaling over $10,000,and has hired over 20 NGU students to work with WMYA-TV sport production crews and as sideline reporters.
“Every time we have a job fair, you [NGU students] become the gold standard. If other students don’t measure up to you, they’re probably not going to get a position,” said Connors at the awards ceremony. “This [the award] is something that I value personally, as well as professionally.”
Connors, a St. Louis native, moved to Western North Carolina in 2004 to head News 13 and My40 in the country's 37th ranked TV market. Beginning in 1986, Connors spent 18 years as president and general manager of NBC affiliates WCS-TV in Springfield, IL and WICD-TV in Champaign, IL.
Connors obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and after two years with the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., attended graduate school at Central Missouri State University (CMSU). While in Warrensburg he served as both a play-by-play and color man for CMSU football, basketball, and baseball broadcasts, including the NCAA Division II College Baseball World Series. In Asheville, he has handled play-by-play and color commentary roles on WLOS and WMYA-TV for over one hundred college, high school, and minor league football,basketball, and baseball broadcasts.
Connors has been in radio and television since 1970, with most of his early career in on-air positions. He has been a news, weather, and sports anchor, News Director, Sales Manager and Station Manager at KTTC-TV in Rochester, MN, and WGEM-TV in Quincy, IL.
Connors and his wife of 47 years, Kathy, have two daughters:Shannon and Kelly. Shannon is an honors graduate of the Journalism School at the University of Missouri and the Law School at Southern Illinois University,now practicing law as an Associate at the Bryan Cave law firm in St. Louis.Kelly graduated with a degree in experimental psychology from Milliken University in Decatur, IL and now works in the insurance industry in St. Louis.
Visit here for information on opportunities to give back to your university and become involved with the alumni association.
Photo: From left: Jack Connors, Eddie Fisher, Chris Brank, and Kayla Morgan.
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