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34 CU Leaders Graduate from Southwest CUNA Management School
Friday, July 24, 2015 6:55 AM

SCMS Class of 2015
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Wednesday, at the 43rd graduation ceremony of Southwest CUNA Management School, the 34 students of the Class of 2015 received their diplomas. The reception, dinner, and formal ceremonies were held on the Texas Christian University campus in Fort Worth, Texas, where classes have taken place for the last 11 years.

No graduation ceremony would be complete without awards for achieving high levels of excellence, and SCMS students excel at those.

Austin McCafferty of Houston Highway Credit Union was recognized for the 2015 "c2c" (Connect to Collaborate) Leadership Award, which is based on peer recognition for first-year students under the age of 35 for demonstrated leadership on campus. The C2C Leadership award was created to help younger professionals grow their credit union network and highlight their contributions to the credit union movement. In recognition of his leadership on campus, McCafferty was awarded a scholarship in the amount of this year's tuition.

Jack McAdoo, president and CEO of Beacon Federal Credit Union (La Porte, Texas) and a 1997 graduate of SCMS, was awarded 2015 Southwest CUNA Management School Alumnus of the Year. Jack has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. His management successes have been the subject of financial services industry books and periodicals, including The Harvard Business Review. McAdoo earned an MBA in finance from Texas A&M in 1981.

Each year, a number of students vie for the "Honors" distinction. The selection process for this high level of achievement is rigorous and reflects a detailed, well-developed, high-quality, strategic business plan for the credit union, the student’s core understanding of financial management, timeliness of assignments, oral presentations, school participation, and leadership. This year three Honors graduates were recognized:

  • Debbie Young, Golden Plains CU (Garden City, Kansas)
  • Paramjeet Bains, Neighbors FCU (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
  • Steven Salazar, Warren FCU (Cheyenne, Wyoming)

Senior Faculty Strategist and Project Evaluator John Vardallas, a ten-year veteran of the SCMS faculty, said the Class of 2015 is a "passionate and techy group of hipsters who adopted the name "5.0 S."

"They are a very giving group with big heart and soul," Vardallas said, "refusing to let natural disasters, geographic distances, health issues, or the changing economy keep them from accomplishing their goal of graduating from school." He also encouraged them to remember what they learned, "to value your mission more than yourself in making a difference in the lives of those you work with and in serving members."

The 2015 recipient of the Southwest CUNA Management School Award of Excellence was given to 2015 Class President Sean Michael Cahill from Southwest 66 Credit Union in Odessa, Texas.

In presenting Cahill's award, Vardallas said, "This year-one student demonstrated the highest level of excellence in all aspects of the school, from project to presentation to leadership, and follows a proud tradition of excellence."

Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran accepted a contribution to the SCMS Scholarship Fund in the amount of more than $90,000. The SCMS Scholarship Fund helps future SCMS students achieve their personal and professional development goals.

"The Class of 2015 is an amazing group of leaders who wanted to leave behind a legacy for Southwest CUNA Management School," said Cahill. "So many of us had benefited from the Foundation in receiving a scholarship to attend SCMS, and we wanted to pay that forward. We are honored to create the Class of 2015 Pay it Forward Scholarship for three years and hope that other classes following us will see the value of doing the same."

"The Foundation is extremely grateful for the passion and dedication displayed by the Southwest CUNA Management School Class of 2015," says Foundation Executive Director Courtney Moran. "What better way to carry out the People Helping People philosophy than to create a legacy and provide opportunities for future students. We thank the SCMS graduates for making a difference in the lives of so many who will follow their footsteps."

The 2015 graduating class consisted of 34 students from five states:  Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming. Cornerstone Credit Union League congratulates the 2015 Graduating Class of Southwest CUNA Management School:

Thomas Armstrong, CU of Dodge City
Debbie A. Young, Golden Plains CU

Paramjeet Bains, Neighbors FCU
Bryan Elliott, Bossier FCU
Weston J.  Moreau, III, Carter FCU

Cynthia Brown, TTCU
Chih Wei Chen, Tinker FCU
Stephanie Himebaugh, TTCU The CU
Ronald  Morton, TTCU The CU
Amy Smoot, Communication FCU

Steven Salazar, Warren FCU

Angela Bollier, Texoma Educators FCU
Jennifer Boudreau, Abilene Teachers FCU
Valarie Brittain, Cy Fair FCU
Jesse Busby, Wellspring FCU
Sean Michael Cahill, Southwest 66 CC
Benjamin Lucas Campbell, Southwest Financial FCU
Deborah Castro-Castaneda, AMOCO FCU
Melissa Dale , Southwest 66 CU
Melissa  Domingues, Mobiloil FCU
Kenneth Everitt, Local 20 IBEW FCU
Cathy Hagner, FivePoint CU
Frank Halstead, First Service CU
Ebony Holland, People's Trust FCU
Krugerrand Hollins, Resource One CU
Blake Matus, Victoria Teachers FCU
Bambi McGinn, Mobiloil FCU
Darron McLeod, Domino FCU
Kyle Nguyen, Houston Highway CU
Jamie Philley, United Community CU
Robin Roberts, DuGood FCU
Valari Starr-Lopez, San Patricio County Teachers FCU
Eric Dillon Weeks, Fannin FCU
Eric J. Whitaker, Complex Community FCU

To learn more about Southwest CUNA Management School, please visit the website at

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