Lake Erie College Honors Distinguished Alumni

Alumni,

As the LEC community welcomes all alumni back to campus, several will be honored with the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award.  The LEC community members are proud to recognize their contributions. 

To be considered for this distinction, Lake Erie College alumni nominate notable alumni in two categories, Young Alumni (ten years post-graduation) and Distinguished Alumni. Honorees are then sent to the National Alumni Board which then selects the final awardees based on stringent criteria. This criteria includes, organizational memberships, noteworthy achievements and contributions to the community, education, arts and science, and awards and honors.  Candidates must also exemplify Lake Erie College’s mission to lead lives of personal significance and professional success as global citizens.  

All award recipients not only exemplify Lake Erie College’s mission, but represent a commitment   for social responsibility. Not only have the below challenged the norm to be nothing less than extraordinary, they continue leadership by serving as examples for future generations of LEC alumni.  

Lake Erie College Honorees 

Distinguished Alumni 

Judy Wicks graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.  Judy is an author, activist and entrepreneur. She founded Philadelphia’s iconic White Dog Café in 1983, the first farm to table movement and a model in sustainable business practices.  She is the founder of Fair Food Philly (2000) and the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (2001) and the nationwide Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) (2001).  

In her retail career, Judy founded Black Cat, which featured local made and fair-trade gifts for twenty years.  In 1970, Judy co-founded the original Free People’s Store, now well known as Urban Outfitters (no longer affiliated). She earned numerous local and national awards, including the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award, the International Association of Culinary Professionals Humanitarian Award, and the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs Lifetime Achievement Award.  Judy was inducted into the University Science Center’s Innovators Walk of Fame in 2016.

Good Morning, Beautiful Business, Judy’s acclaimed memoir, won a national gold medal for business leadership and has been translated into Chinese and Korean.  Judy continues her work to build a new economy of beautiful businesses and mentors to the next generation of entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.  


Deborah Royce earned her degree from Lake Erie College in 1980,  graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in modern foreign languages (French and Italian) and a minor in dance. She began her career as an actress in film and television for ten years. Her big break came with the leading role of Silver Kane, sister of the legendary Erica Kane, on the long running ABC soap opera, All My Children. Deborah went on to star in many feature films such as The Deliberate Stranger with Mark Harmon and Liberace. Television appearances include Beverly Hills 90210 and 21 Jump Street.  Deborah stepped behind the screen after her move to Paris in 1992 with her daughters and husband, Chuck Royce, as a reader for Le Studio Canal Plus.  Returning to the United States, Deborah transitioned to Miramax Films as a story editor for films like Emma, Walking and Talking by Nicole Holofcener, and early versions of Chicago and A Wrinkle in Time. Deborah wrote her first novel, Finding Mrs. Ford in 2019.

Other notable contributions include, restoration projects including, the Avon Theatre Film Center in 2004 (avontheatre.org), the Ocean House—one of only 13 triple Forbes five-star properties in the world—the Weekapaug Inn, and the Deer Mountain Inn, a bookstore (The Savoy in Westerly, RI), and Main Street revitalization projects in Tannersville, New York and Westerly, Rhode Island. The next renovation will be the United Theatre arts complex in Westerly.

Deborah and her husband have a tribe of children, stepchildren, grandchildren, and animals.

Richard Stark graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Summa Cum Laude, in 1992 and with a Master of Business Administration in 1993.  He completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program through Cuyahoga Community College and Babson College and is a member of Mensa International and Who’s Who in America. 

Richard is the currently a project engineer at Avery Dennison Performance Tapes. For over 23 years, Richard was president of South Shore Controls, Inc, which has been honored by the Lake-Geauga Fast Track 50 twelve times, mentioned on the Weatherhead 100 and received the Governor’s Excellence in Workers Compensation award as one of the safest workplaces in Ohio, as well as recognized as the fastest growing integrator in the world by Rockwell Automation. 

For the last ten years, South Shore Controls, Inc. has been in the Lakeland Community College Business Hall of Fame. Richard’s dedication to Lake Erie College continues when he joined Lake Erie College’s Board of Directors to help drive the commitment to provide an excellent, inclusive, and highly personalized education grounded in the liberal arts tradition for students today and in the future.

Distinguished Young Alumni  

Paige Nemec graduated from LEC in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and a minor in biology. She is currently an associate scientist at Precision BioSciences, Inc. in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Paige’s early athletic career began at age five when she became one of the first female wrestlers on her team.  At age seventeen she made history by being the first woman in Ohio history to win 100 varsity wrestling matches and state championships! All of which were all against boys. She joined the Lake Erie Storm community, playing soccer during her collegiate years, with 65 career goals, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.  

While attending LEC, Paige found her passion for science, inspired by Dr. Deborah Schulman’s class on the immune system.  As a result, Paige became an undergraduate research assistant at LEC, and landed a coveted research internship at Lubrizol Corporation. After graduating, Paige spent two years at the Comparative Medicine Institute as an associate member where she garnered grants to identify biomarkers in canine cancers that promote metastasis and analyzed the use of viruses to fight cancer. 

She spent four years teaching medical microbiology and general microbiology labs to undergraduate students at North Carolina State University as a teaching assistant, while she pursued her graduate and doctoral degrees.

The Lake Erie College community is proud of these outstanding individuals and thanks each for their contributions to the greater good of the LEC community and beyond.  The goal of LEC’s educators is to prepare all of their students not only to be successful in future careers, but to remain humble ambassadors to their surrounding communities.  Judy, Deborah, Richard and Paige are examples of graduates who live the mission and goals of Lake Erie College and serve as a reminder that graduation is not a beginning, but a continuation of learning and commitment to the building of a more responsible and intentional global citizen.   

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