Midwestern University salutes community outreach at gala

Glendale campus celebrates difference-makers


Academic, healthcare, business, and community leaders from around the Valley joined at Midwestern University, 19555 N. 59th Ave., in October at the annual Bright Lights, Shining Stars gala, which recognizes and honors community service and leadership.

Kathleen H. Goeppinger, Ph.D., Midwestern University president and chief executive officer, presented the 2019 COMET (Community Outreach: Motivating Excellence for Tomorrow) Award to PetSmart Charities, and the 2019 Shooting Star Award to Reverend James Turner.

Phoenix-based PetSmart Charities is the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, providing more than $400 million in grants over the past 25 years to groups supporting pets and their families. The organization has been a key factor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s shelter medicine program development since 2014. Thanks to generous grants provided by PetSmart Charities, the College developed the state-of-the-art Midwestern University Mobile Clinic, which provides surgical services, spays and neuters, and other basic medical care to shelters and rural locations and hands-on clinical experience for veterinary students. Additionally, funding from PetSmart Charities has supported surgical training for second-year veterinary students, scholarship awards, and research and travel stipends for students researching One Health and shelter and community medicine topics.

Reverend James Turner recently retired as the pastor of Glendale’s St. Thomas More Parish, 6180 W. Utopia Road. Father Jim has been a Catholic priest for 35 years, and he founded the parish in 1997. He grew up in Long Island, New York, and attended Syracuse University. Prior to entering the seminary, he worked at Northern Arizona University in secondary education. In his 35 years of service as a pastor, Father Jim worked in parishes in Flagstaff, Tempe, and Phoenix before founding St. Thomas More Parish in Glendale. In the more than 20 years that the parish and the university have been neighbors, Father Jim and St. Thomas More provided a welcoming spiritual home for many Midwestern University faculty, staff and students.

“PetSmart Charities and Father Jim have shown genuine commitment to our students’ educational and personal well-being, and we truly value our wonderful relationships with them. On behalf of the entire Midwestern University family, I thank them for their generosity, as well as to those who attended the Bright Lights, Shining Stars gala to support our educational mission,” Dr. Goeppinger stated.

Six Spirit of Service scholarships were awarded at the gala to students representing four Midwestern University colleges for the 2019-2020 academic year. Scholarship recipients include: Lauren Allison from the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM); Kristen Drinkwater and Christy Tran from the College of Dental Medicine-Arizona (CDMA); Kauionalani Fukuda from the College of Health Sciences (CHS-Glendale) Clinical Psychology Program; Austin Githens from the College of Pharmacy-Glendale (CPG); and Ross Groeschl from the College of Health Sciences Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine (AZPod). The Spirit of Service scholarship program recognizes outstanding Midwestern students based on community service, leadership abilities, academic standing, and financial need.

The annual event, which raises scholarship funds for students in all of Midwestern University’s colleges, also featured a formal dinner, a live band and a silent auction.

Visit midwestern.edu or call 623/572-3215.