One of BYU’s Homecoming 2010 university award recipients was so committed to supporting cancer research that she swam the icy waters from Alcatraz to the San Francisco shore to raise money. Debra Hutchings Forrest (BS ’77) typifies the service, passion, and success that characterize the five women who received awards at Homecoming 2010. In addition to Forrest, who received the Service to Family Award, the honorees include Ruth Jones Jackson (BS ’59), of Sundance, Utah, and Catherine Mikat Marco (BS ’82), of Toledo, Ohio, who received Distinguished Service Awards. Nicole Stevenson Denne (BA ’94), of Los Angeles, was given the Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award, and Gail S. Miller, of Sandy, Utah, received the Honorary Alumni Award.
While a student at BYU, Forrest was elected a student body vice president. She cofounded the BYU Women’s Conference, an annual event that today draws thousands to campus. A mother of seven, she received the Arizona Parent of the Year Award in 2003 and the National Parent of the Year Award the next year. She credits much of her success to her late husband, William V. Forrest (BA ’76). Seeing a need to foster self-esteem and leadership in young women, Forrest created a young women’s conference to help girls ages 12 through 16 understand their worth, capabilities, and unique role as women. The first conference reached its capacity of 250 quickly, and Forrest hopes to expand to several conferences in multiple regions.
“Go Cougars” was one of the first phrases Jackson taught her children and grandchildren, and “Rise and Shout” has been a regular call to action in her home. Jackson has enriched her community, state, and nation as a volunteer in positions such as president of the Utah Governor’s Commission for Women and Families and president of the National Commission for Women and Families. Jackson was the founding director of the University Center in Richfield, Utah, where she worked to help nontraditional students attend and graduate from school. She mentored students and coordinated courses and degrees offered at the center by various Utah colleges and universities.
Marco, a physician and professor, has made substantial contributions in the medical and medical-ethics fields. Her interest in emergency medicine (EM) prompted her to establish a new EM residence program at the University of Toledo, where her first class matriculated in 2009. Her colleague, Raquel M. Schears, a physician and an associate professor of emergency medicine at the Mayo Clinic, says, “Catherine Marco has been the most awe-inspiring person I have ever known. She has nurtured a beautiful and successful family unit, despite the pressure of career and academia. She chose marriage and motherhood as her first priority; the rest comes second. . . . As she advances ethical discourse and scholarship in EM, she facilitates balanced leadership through her exemplary mentorship; she amplifies a culture of fair ethics, public service, and high-caliber professionalism.”
At BYU Denne learned that her love for journalism best expressed itself through broadcast news. Now an executive producer at KNBC in Los Angeles, she has held news and sports producer positions in Honolulu, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Dallas, and Los Angeles. “I told myself I would only work in a city that had a temple,” she says. “President Hinckley made that easier when he started building them all over the world, and I have been able to stick to that goal.” Among her career highlights was the opportunity to work for NBC on coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.
Whenever the late Larry H. Miller mentioned business, he would refer to decisions as being made by “Gail and me.” That’s because the renowned entrepreneur and humanitarian did his business in joint custody with his high-school sweetheart and beloved partner, Gail Saxton Miller. Together, they owned 100 percent of everything: car dealerships, the Energy Solutions Arena, the Utah Jazz, mexaplexes, and more. Since Larry’s death in 2009, Gail has become more actively involved in leading the family business. Additionally, Gail is vice chair of the Salt Lake Community College board of trustees and established a nonprofit organization to help women and children in jeopardy. The Miller generosity to BYU has been abundant. The Millers funded the athletic facility for the softball and baseball diamonds and made significant donations to the construction of the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center and the Joseph F. Smith Building. They also provided the initial endowment funding for the Joseph Smith Papers Project, which began at BYU.