Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
In this edition of the Laker Log, the accomplishments of four successful Laker Alumni are highlighted: Sophie Chandauka ’00, Galen Duncan ’94, Paul Jerrard ’87, and Ken Williams ’80.
Sophie Chandauka ’00, London, England
A native of Harare, Zimbabwe, Sophie came to LSSU by way of Canada, where she was an exchange student through the Rotary International program in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. She attended St. Mary’s College for one year and, through the assistance of Rotary and other scholarships, enrolled at LSSU in 1996. Her college education took her to many places. During her sophomore year, she served an internship in Washington, DC. Then, in her junior year, she received the prestigious Ambassadorial Scholarship through Rotary International’s foundation and enrolled in international studies and law at University of Birmingham, England. She returned to LSSU to finish her degree in political science/pre-law. From LSSU, Sophie went back to England, where she completed her legal education with the College of Law and her Legal Practice Course, with distinction, at Oxford Institute of Legal Practice. In 2008, Sophie received the Paul Ripley Award for Young Alumni, which honors graduates who have enjoyed exceptional personal and professional success early in their careers. Those honored must have graduated within the past 15 years and/or be no more than 40 years of age. Today, she is the Global Chief Operations Officer of Shared Services and Banking Operations, Morgan Stanley and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales.
“I treasure my time at Lake Superior State University because a scholarship awarded to me by the Board of Governors afforded me an education that fundamentally changed the trajectory of my life and career in America, Europe and Africa. At Lake State, I made friendships for life, notably Chris Shay whose wedding I attended in Florida just before the pandemic took grip in 2020, and Judy Bawks who was a substitute mother to me as an international student. I enjoyed attending class (a mix of work and play), and even managed to secure an internship in Washington DC in 1998, which was an adventure in itself! I would not be where I am in life were it not for the privilege I had to learn from some of the most dedicated faculty, notably Dr Gary Johnson, who took a personal interest in my development and general wellbeing. I worked in the Admissions Office as a Tour Guide, enjoyed being a muckraker as a member of the Compass Editorial Team, was a member of the Political Science Club and staff supporting Dr Johnson as Editor of the prestigious journal Politics and the Life Sciences. I have lived in and worked in many fascinating places in the world, but I always say that my most happy and carefree place was in the Soo, with friends and adopted family with the scenery of the Great Lakes. Oh, how I loved that gumbo at Penny’s Kitchen!”
Galen Duncan ’94, Sacramento, California
When Galen graduated from LSSU in 1994 he completed two bachelor’s degrees – one in business administration – marketing and one in human services with minors in counseling and substance abuse counseling all while competing on the Laker Men’s Basketball team . He has put both of these degrees to good work, along with his graduate degrees and time management skills, in his various positions with the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. Galen started with the Sacramento Kings in 2017, transitioning from Detroit to Sacramento in one short week. Prior to the move, Galen had been with the Lions for ten years, since 2007. In the ever-changing and challenging field of developing players in the NFL, Galen helped Lions’ players establish housing, financial education, internships, counseling connections, professional development opportunities and career transition options. He assisted Football Operations with logistics and planning and interviewed all draft-eligible rookies, providing character evaluations for team managers. He developed relocation guides for new players acclimating to the Detroit area. He provided an intensive annual rookie transition program, including social media and etiquette training programs. He assisted players with transitioning into and out of the NFL and was a member of the Player Development Steering Committee. Galen displays with pride autographed footballs from the respective draft class members he has supported in their transition to the pros. In his role with the Kings, Galen is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under his oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community. In 2017, Galen received the Kenneth J Shouldice Achievement Award which recognizes personal and professional successes that serve as outstanding examples to LSSU graduates. The award highlights significant achievements of alumni who serve as leaders in our region, state and nations.
“Lake State provided me with a one of a kind education that allowed me to not only learn and educate myself, but to do so with my peers as well. I wouldn’t trade my time at LSSU for the world. It is a place that taught me how to overcome adversity, and put me in a position to succeed in life.”
Paul Jerrard ’00, Omaha, Nebraska
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Paul has had a long successful coaching career, since graduating in 1987 with a bachelor of recreation management. Paul’’s career as an assistant coach has spanned more than 20 years across the National Hockey League, American Hockey League and college hockey. Prior to coaching, Paul played defense for Lake State from 1983-87, totaling 40 goals and 73 assists for 113 points in 156 games. He was drafted by the New York Rangers in the ninth round of the 1983 Entry Draft, and went onto play professionally for 10 years for several clubs in the IHL and AHL, including on the 1997 Calder Cup-winning Hershey Bears, and in the NHL for five games with the Minnesota North Stars. After retiring as a player, he was an assistant coach of the LSSU hockey team (1997-98, 1999-2002), five AHL teams over a dozen years, and three NHL teams: Colorado Avalanche (2002-03), Dallas Stars (2011-13), and Calgary Flames (2016-18). Currently, Paul is an assistant coach at University of Nebraska-Omaha.
“My time at LSSU was the best 4 years of my life! I have many fond memories of being a student athlete. I cherish the relationships and lasting friendships I built! I wouldn’t trade my time at LSSU for anything in this world”
Ken Williams ’80, Plainfield, Illinois
After graduating with a degree in recreation management, Ken went onto have a very successful career in financial management. First being a Director with Discover Financial Services for 15 years, before working as a Vice President for Citi for just over a year. Ken then founded and served as President of The Shred Authority from December 2005 to September 2020. The Shred Authority is a document and data destruction company that allows businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area to comply with privacy rule requirements. While a student at Lake State, Ken was a member of the men’s basketball team in 1977-78.
“I believe that life is built by the experiences and journeys that we travel through life. Attending Lake Superior State University was one of greatest experiences of my life. The learning experience I received as student, coach, and individual set me on my journey as a young adult and ingrained in me a foundation by which to live and grow. Encompassed in the beautiful campus landscape, my interactions with the LSSU environment, teachers, students, and teammates helped me learn from my failures and became the cornerstones in my lifelong journey of learning, friendships, and evolving success.”