We asked people who have participated in the Sterling Scholar program since it began in 1962 to tell us a bit about their lives since then. Here are some of their responses:
James B Vevan
I became an MBA mechanical engineer and worked in manufacturing for 50 years, the final 20 in senior management. During that time I conducted choirs for 15 years and was music director and conductor for eight local productions of Broadway musicals. I also spent a time as a classical music announcer on radio. I am still deeply interested in music and will celebrate my 60th year as a patron of the Utah Symphony next month.
Phyllis Black Sperry
I graduated from University of Utah in 1966 with a B.S. degree in business administration and English. I taught briefly at University of Utah; after raising a family, I taught business classes at Salt Lake Community College. I married David J. Sperry, who was also a Sterling Scholar at Murray High School in 1962. We have five children, 24 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. We have lived in Sandy, Utah, and in Geneva, Switzerland, for three years, where my husband was an LDS mission president. We have always been grateful for the honor of being Sterling Scholars.
1962 Speech and Dramatics
I obtained B.A., M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees and served as a professor and in various administrative positions at the University of Utah, including dean of the Graduate School of Education. I married Phyllis Black, who was also a Sterling Scholar in 1962. We have five children, 24 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. I also served as a missionary, bishop, stake president, mission president and patriarch in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I received my master's degree in social work from the University of Utah. I have spent my life serving my community as a clinical social worker. I have worked with cancer patients, individuals with disabilities and individuals with extreme health challenges.
I served an LDS mission to England from 1971 to 1973 and was chosen to serve in a performing district for my first three months. I attended BYU for three semesters, studying piano performance and music education, and I was principal cellist in the symphony orchestra. I then married and raised a family, during which time I played the cello with the Utah Valley Symphony for 15 years and produced and performed in a few stake musicals in the Provo Tabernacle (“The Sound of Music,” “The King and I,” “The Music Man” and “Oklahoma!”). Beginning in 1974, I worked as a print music specialist for 24 years at three different music stores in Utah Valley, while I continued to serve in civic and church music. I am a published composer of choral and organ music with Kjos Music, Jackman Music and WardOrganist.com. For the past 15 years, I have worked as an administrative assistant at the front desk for the city of Cedar Hills, Utah.
I ended up graduating from law school, practicing law, and am now a juvenile court judge. I am married with two adult children and three (soon to be four) grandchildren. My wife, daughters, and son-in-law all graduated from college. Everyone except my youngest daughter have graduate degrees, and she is applying for graduate school for the fall.
I attended the University of Utah, where I received a B.A. degree in chemistry and then an M.D. After residency in otolaryngology head and neck surgery at the University of Iowa, I did a fellowship in otology, neurotology and cranial base surgery in Nashville. I joined the faculty at Ohio State University, then earned a Ph.D. in pathobiology. After 25 years in the department and chairing the department at OSU for 10 years, I am currently the chair of the Department of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. And all because of the great boost I received as a Sterling Scholar.
Mitchell A. McAllister
1975, Vocational Education
I gained an interest in architectural drafting in high school where I was selected to be a Sterling Scholar. After high school I graduated from the University of Utah Graduate School of Architecture. I then moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and worked in two large architectural firms designing high-rise commercial buildings. Then I moved to Sacramento, California, where I was hired to design a high-rise elderly housing project. At the completion of that project, I started my own architectural firm in Sacramento, California. For the last 29 years, my firm has specialized in educational facilities. We have completed the construction of over 100 school projects in northern California totaling over $650 million.
Elizabeth J. Scharman
Following two years at the University of Utah (pre-pharmacy), I received an undergraduate, five-year degree in pharmacy from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a doctor of pharmacy degree from Virginia Commonwealth University (Medical College of Virginia). I completed a clinical toxicology fellowship at the Pittsburgh Poison Center/University of Pittsburgh. I am a tenured professor of clinical pharmacy at the West Virginia School of Pharmacy, where I have been a faculty member for 25.5 years. I am a diplomat of the American Board of Applied Toxicology and a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist as well as a fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology. In addition to being a full-time faculty member, I have been the director of the West Virginia Poison Center for the past 25.5 years. I have held positions on multiple local, state and national committees and am a past-president of the American Board of Applied Toxicology and a past board member of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology and the American Association of Poison Control Centers. As part of my job, I am the deputy Medical Countermeasures/Strategic National Stockpile coordinator for the WV Center for Threat Preparedness. I have multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals.
I have lived Utah, Indiana, Louisiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I was married in 2003 and have a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son.
Karen Moss Corbitt
graduated from BYU in 1986 in electrical engineering, married four days later and moved to California to build main frame computers for Amdahl. In 1989, while still working for Amdahl, I gave birth to my first daughter and graduated three months later with an M.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford. In 1990, I moved to Washington, where I worked on three different startups. My husband died in a plane crash in 1999.
I have five children, currently ages 19-28, all of whom graduated from or are attending BYU. I currently serve as CEO of Emberall — a video history app that my oldest son created (see Emberall.com), treasurer of SKWIM — a new water sport — and contractor for Northwest Student Exchange — finding homes for and watching over foreign exchange students. I volunteer as a mentor for the robotics team at our local high school, Cub Scout den leader and pack chairman, and aerobic instructor for my friends and neighbors in my basement.
1986, Home Economics
I graduated from BYU with a degree in communicative disorders, served an ASL mission for the LDS Church, obtained a M.S in deaf education from Western Oregon State College and a second master's in communicative disorders from USU. I worked for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind as their speech-language specialist, where I worked with both deaf and blind children, then for IHC as a speech language pathologist, obtaining specialities with brain injury, swallowing disorders and other neurologic conditions in addition to aural rehabilitation of the deaf before moving to Minnesota.
Now I'm married and have three children. I work part time in a hospital and part time in a private practice helping kids and adults with oral myofunctional disorders, as well as volunteer and mother/parent my children alongside a great husband. My skills developed in home economics have helped me be self-sufficient in many areas, be a better mother and wife, and help me give to my community in a variety of ways.
Attended the Naval Academy and became a nuclear submarine officer. I earned a Ph.D. in astroparticle physics from the University of Utah. I've been working as a nuclear explosive design physicist for the last 15 years — 12.5 at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, now at Los Alamos National Lab.
1989, Foreign Language
Here are some of the things my Sterling Scholarship in languages led to directly or indirectly:
• Served an LDS mission in East Germany three months after the Berlin Wall fell.
• Through Sterling Scholarship, I received a tuition scholarship to BYU and a four-year ROTC scholarship, where I studied German teaching and Russian.
• Ph.D. in German studies from the University of Cincinnati.
• Fulbright Fellowship to study for a year at the Freie Universität in Berlin, working on my dissertation.
• Eight years as a National Guard officer in Utah and in Ohio, with expertise in intelligence and linguistics (U.S. Army captain).
• Taught German literature and language at the University of Missouri (one year) and Angelo State University in Texas (two years).
• Currently associate professor of German at Utah Valley University
• Current president of the Utah Foreign Language Association (UFLA)
• Former president of the Utah Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG).
I have always been grateful to the Sterling Scholar program, which opened that first door for me and led to over 30 years of experiences that have shaped my life.
Conley B. Call, M.D.
After graduating from Payson High School, I served a mission in Salta, Argentina. I graduated from BYU with a degree in zoology and minor in Spanish. Just before medical school, I married a wonderful woman from Mexico (who had also attended Payson High School for a year and has accomplished a lot in her own right) and we now have four children.
I attended medical school at St. Louis University and then went on to do a residency in ophthalmology at Ohio State University, where I was named chief resident my last year. I practiced general ophthalmology in Wenatchee, Washington, (thus completing my living in all four continental U.S. time zones) for five and a half years before returning for two more years of sub-specialty training in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery (about 30 people trained nationwide each year) at the University of Iowa.
I then joined the ASOPRS (sub-specialty society) and moved back to Utah and started a solo medical practice from scratch in Spanish Fork (just a few block from where my mother grew up) where I do both general ophthalmology and get referrals from all over central and eastern Utah related to oculoplastic and reconstructive issues. The practice is growing steadily and I am happy to be back and part of this wonderful community.
My wife and I have also been grateful for the opportunity to be part of several humanitarian trips with LDS Charities over the last few years. During these trips — Vietnam twice and Equador once — I have had the opportunity to share some of my oculoplastics skills with local physicians and have met some wonderful people. It has also been fun to reflect back on my Sterling Scholar days as I see my son prepare for his upcoming interviews as a second generation Sterling Scholar.
Rebecca Brown Dupaix
After high school, I attended Utah State University, majoring in mechanical engineering, then went on to complete M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. I am currently an associate professor at Ohio State University in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, where I teach classes and conduct research related to mechanics of materials, specifically polymers, composites and soft biological tissues. My husband and I are the parents of five children: a daughter, son and triplet daughters. We spend our free time camping, hiking and playing music together (piano, violin, and viola).
Kirt C. "KC" Nilsson
1997, Business and Marketing
I was selected as the Business and Marketing Sterling Scholar for central Utah in 1997. Since then, I earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Utah and went on to earn a master's degree in health policy and administration from Washington State University.
In 2003, I was selected to commission as a Medical Service Corps officer in the United States Navy. The Navy has afforded me many wonderful assignments throughout the world — head, patient administration at Naval Hospital Cherry Point; deployed as head, patient administration aboard the USNS Comfort (TAH-20); Health Services Administration officer aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74); head TRICARE Operations, U.S. Naval Hospital, Naples Italy; director, clinical operations, Puget Sound Military Health System; and currently, deputy director Program Operations, TRICARE Area Office, Europe, Asia and Africa.
I have very fond memories of the Sterling Scholar program and am grateful for the scholarship allowing me to pursue further education.
Claire Nakashima Nelson
2001, Foreign Language
I moved to New York City, got married, had two children and countless adventures. I attended New York University and graduated with a B.A. in economics, then went on to get my MBA in finance. I pursued a career in philanthropy and spent the first decade of my career in corporate philanthropy working for The McGraw-Hill Companies, Liz Claiborne, MedImmune and Exelis.
Now I work at a consulting firm helping families manage their family foundations. We support families in their grantmaking, through transitions like engaging the next generation of family members in philanthropy, and assist families with governance and overall foundation management.
After graduating high school, I went on to BYU to study dance education. While at university, I performed with Kinnect, DancEnsemble and Contemporary Dance Theater, which took me to perform and teach in Jamaica and India. Post graduation from BYU, I relocated to Minnesota with my husband where I began work with a developing dance conservatory, helping to build the school, the dancers and its curriculum as school principal and instructor.
After four years, my husband, daughter and I once again relocated, this time to Indiana. It's here I currently work as director over a local dance studio where I develop training curriculum for my instructors and make a series of updates in the school of dance program.
Carly Stewart Carothers
2009, English1 comment on this story
I married shortly after high school and pursued further education at SUU, where I eventually pursued a degree in English literature with an emphasis in Shakespeare. I never would have learned how much I adore Shakespeare and how it can change lives without my background in English in high school. I didn’t even realize I loved English until I became a Sterling Scholar. Those intense days of prepping my portfolio and learning from my mentor, Mrs. Susan Merrel, are some of my most cherished from high school!
I earned a bachelor's degree in 2014 in music and computer science. I'm now a professional singer and pianist at a social club in downtown Salt Lake City, performing two-three nights a week. I'm the local band leader for the age-old touring group "The Drifters," and I frequently perform with the Utah Symphony for their video game music series. By day, I'm a computer system administrator.