2008 Alumni of the Year

In 1980, when Phyllis Halsey Atkins took the oath as U.S. Magistrate, she became the first woman to serve as a judge on the federal court bench in Nevada. She also served on several Ninth Circuit committees while on the federal bench. Twenty-one years later, she retired as the longest serving U.S. Magistrate Judge in the history of Nevada. She officially retired from her judicial position in 1999, but returned to serve as a Recalled Retired U.S. Magistrate Judge until 2001.
Judge Atkins’ legacy embodies many things that made her unique and effective as a judge. In 1999, Phyllis was honored by the Northern Nevada Women Lawyers Association as “NNWLA Woman Lawyer of the Year.” She was also presented with a “Women of Achievement” award from the Nevada Women’s Fund.
Phyllis graduated from Walla Walla University with a degree in business administration, the distinction of being the only woman in her major, and a desire to achieve. “At Walla Walla College, I got the education I always wanted,” says Judge Atkins.

Bill Chobotar is a distinguished professor of biology at Andrews University. A consummate teacher and researcher, Bill has mentored scores of students who today are leaders in their field.
Bill has also been the editor of the Parasitology Research Journal since 1990. He has written more than 70 articles for peer-reviewed journals, chaired international congress sessions for scientific symposiums, been a guest professor at Solousi University, and won several awards for excellence in teaching and researching.
In 1996, Bill was awarded with the John Andrews Medallion presented by the Andrews University administration for outstanding service to the university through teaching, researching, student advising, and other activities.
“A teacher doesn’t see what he or she does as a job,” Bill says. It’s a commitment and a calling. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and passing it onto my students.
“I’m still in contact with my students after they graduate. Teaching is such a blessing. I’ve been given many chances to do what I like to do, and I thank God for the opportunities that were placed before me.”

With an unequaled dedication to teaching, Joyce Lang’s career in the classroom touched the lives of hundreds of children.
Her years of teaching were marked by her wise insights into how children learned and developed. She believed that all students were capable of achieving, that learning should be fun, and that education came in many different forms. She loved to provide a wide range of experiences, from student-led drama and trips to major museums in the Northwest, to making dolls for a regional Children’s Hospital. Faith and service were integral to her life, and in addition to modeling that lifestyle, she gave her students the opportunity to experience the joy resulting from both. Through curriculum and her ability to nurture, she tended to the spiritual lives of students with purpose and care.
Beginning her career in North Dakota and Colorado, Joyce taught for 25 years at Rogers Elementary School in College Place, Wash. In 1988, Joyce was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award from the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. She retired in 2000.

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Last update on September 23, 2008