In recognition of their gold and blue spirit, the West Virginia University Alumni Association will celebrate recipients of the 2022 Homecoming and Alumni Service Awards during Homecoming Week, Oct. 24-30. These awards honor individuals who embody what it means to be a Mountaineer and mark accomplishments of alumni around the globe.
Mary Marantz (’02) will serve as the grand marshal for the 2022 Homecoming Parade scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, on High Street in Morgantown. During her time as a WVU student, Marantz was president of the debate team, a member of Mortar Board and the Order of Augusta, and a political science and philosophy outstanding senior in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. After graduation, Marantz pursued a master’s degree in philosophy in England with the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and a law degree from Yale Law School. Marantz is a best-selling author and host of the iTunes Top 200 podcast “The Mary Marantz Show.” Her work has been featured on CNN, Hallmark Home & Family, Southern Living, Business Insider, Britt + Co, Life Today, MSN, Bustle and more. Additionally, Marantz has built a successful photography business and online course platform for creative entrepreneurs with her husband, Justin. They were named to the prestigious Profoto Legends of Light community for their outstanding skills and contributions to wedding and portrait photography.
Charles E. Emanuel (‘97) will be honored as the 2022 Outstanding Alum. Emanuel was a former safety and senior team captain for the Mountaineer football team. After graduating from WVU, Emanuel became a professional athlete and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He attended law school at Florida Coastal School of Law and began practicing in Florida in 2004. Currently, Emanuel remains actively involved with the WVU Varsity Club and is a past chair of the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors. In addition to his service and mentorship for WVU, Emanuel gives back to his local community as a volunteer coach for the Lake Nona YMCA branch.
Greg Darby (‘80) will receive the David W. Jacobs Lifetime Service Award. Darby graduated in accounting from the John Chambers College of Business & Economics and has led a successful career as president and co-owner of the Little General Store Inc. Currently, Darby is the vice chair of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association Board of Directors and serves on the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors. He regularly contributes to various philanthropic avenues in Beckley as well as to higher education institutions throughout the state.
Hilah Zia (’11, ’13) is the 2022 Margaret Buchanan Cole Young Alumni award winner in recognition of her continued service and leadership. As a student, Zia was a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi, a Milan Puskar Scholar, a Gold and Blue Student Ambassador with University Events and a member of the Student Association of Public Administrators. Zia’s career has led her to the Washington, D.C. area where she has worked in research administration with different organizations including the Smithsonian, Georgetown University and Children’s National Hospital. She actively volunteers in her community as president of the National Capital Area Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association and as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association RivALZ team in D.C.
Ben Ashley (‘15) will receive the James R. McCartney Community Service Award representing outstanding citizenship and service within his community. During his time in the Executive MBA program, Ashley served as a brand ambassador to help recruit prospective working professionals to the business program. Ashley has left a positive impact on his community in his former role as director of architectural services at the School Building Authority of West Virginia and his current role as the education market director for ZMM Architects & Engineers. Ashley and his family are proud supporters of WVU and enjoy cheering on the Mountaineers.
David Hill (‘80) will receive the Paul B. “Buck” Martin Award. During his time at WVU, Hill was an active member of Beta Alpha Psi and the First Baptist Church campus ministry group. Hill also worked for the University in Dining Services and Residential Life, has spent his career since working in public accounting firms and currently serves as a partner at Baker Tilly in Charleston. Hill remains active with the West Virginia Society of CPAs as a board member and past president. His involvement was critical to the development of the WVU Accounting Department Advisory Council, where he still serves as president. He has supported the University’s recruiting efforts for almost 40 years by presenting to accounting classes and Beta Alpha Psi members. He has been honored by the WV Society with the Distinguished Service Award and Lifetime Achievement Award. Hill has been married to his high school sweetheart and fellow WVU graduate, Susan Thomas Hill (‘80), for more than 42 years. They have two daughters who are both proud graduates of WVU.
Jihad Dixon (’17, ’19) will receive the John F. Nicholas Jr. Award. As an undergraduate and graduate student, Dixon was highly involved in many aspects of campus life. He was the president of the WVU NAACP and the Higher Education Student Association, a resident assistant at Dadisman/Stalnaker Halls, a diversity ambassador within the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a member of Mountain Honorary, a student representative of the WVU Student Conduct Board and WVU Residency Committee, and a student senator and executive leader in the Student Government Association. Upon graduation, Dixon worked with University Relations & Enrollment Management, specifically planning new student orientation programs. He left for Washington, D.C. to further his career in higher education policy, external affairs and communications at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Currently, Dixon works at the Obama Foundation as the associate for strategy and operations for the My Brother's Keeper Alliance. Dixon has a passion for uplifting the community and advocating for equity, access to education and opportunity. He currently serves as the president of the WVU Black Alumni Association.
The WVU Alumni Association awardees will be recognized at the Homecoming parade Friday, Oct. 28, and during halftime of the WVU vs. TCU football game Saturday, Oct. 29.
Also being recognized during the Homecoming parade and as part of this year's Homecoming halftime performance is the first group of trailblazing women to participate in the Mountaineer Marching Band. The WVU Alumni Band and "The Pride of West Virginia" will celebrate this inaugural group of women, who refer to themselves fondly as the "Dirty Dozen," as they mark this 50-year milestone.
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