LOGAN — Utah State University 2022 Homecoming is just a falling leaf away, with events going from Monday, Oct. 3, through Saturday, Oct. 8.
Longtime Aggies will recognize staples of the week including the annual student tradition of painting the intersections at 400 North and Main Street and 1000 North and 800 East at 11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, leading into Homecoming week. Other notable events include A Day of Giving on Thursday, Oct. 6 to help raise money for student scholarships and True Aggie Night on Friday, Oct. 7, just before midnight under the “A” lit blue atop Old Main.
More fun begins Saturday, Oct. 8, with the Running of the Bulls 5K at 8:30 a.m. (sign up early for discount registration) and the Homecoming Parade on Logan’s Main Street at 10 a.m. The parade route begins on Center Street and ends at 800 North. Last but not least, people can show their Aggie pride by attending the annual Homecoming game against Air Force.
Five notable Aggies will be honored for their contributions to Utah State University during the Homecoming festivities. The honorees are a prominent feature of the homecoming parade and are chosen for their record of service and support to the university. The honorees include Annette and Lane Thomas as Grand Marshals, Peter L. Kranz as Alumnus of the Year, Shailaja S. Akkapeddi as Alumna of the Year, and Oscar A. Marquina and Tyler Tolson as Young Alumni of the Year.
Annette and Lane Thomas
True Blue Aggies Annette and Lane Thomas have been avid supporters of all things Utah State University for more than 40 years. The high school sweethearts from Spanish Fork, Utah, came to USU in the mid-1970s and have maintained close ties with the institution ever since.
Despite living in Spanish Fork, Annette and Lane are involved with USU, the Alumni Association and Aggie Athletics in multiple ways. Whether tailgating with friends and attending a game (a tradition they have enjoyed for more than 15 years) enjoying Aggie Ice Cream (Annette prefers Huckleberry and Lane enjoys Aggie Blue Mint) donating their time with service on a university board or financially supporting areas close to their heart, Annette and Lane are never far from USU.
Annette continued dating Lane when he came to USU, where he would earn a degree in agricultural economics from the College of Agriculture (now the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences) in 1979. They married Lane’s senior year and were proud to celebrate graduation together as Annette earned her official P.H.T. (Putting Hubby Through) from USU at the same time. The couple would go on to have three children who they raised as Aggies: Justin, Amber and Myles. All three children met their spouses (Shana, Ryan and Chelsea) at USU, and Lane and Annette are the proud grandparents of six grandchildren: Ethan, Ayla, Drew, Clara, Kai and Annalee. The couple also have an adopted son, John Cartwright.
Known as the rock of the family, Annette worked full time as a stay-at-home mom and has supported and cheered on Lane, her children and grandchildren throughout their lives. Recently, Annette completed a successful fight against breast cancer.
Lane recently retired as a business banking senior vice president for Wells Fargo. He has more than 40 years of financial services experience. In 2009, he graduated from the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. He earned a diploma from the American Institute of Banking and served as an instructor for many of the institute’s specialized banking courses. At USU, he has 22 consecutive years of involvement with the Alumni Association and served as its president from 2015-2017, has been a member of the Board of Trustees and serves on the Athletics Advisory Board.
Together, Annette and Lane continue to volunteer at various community organizations, and together, as always, they remain dedicated to USU. They are Lifetime members of the Alumni Association, members of the Old Main Society and Blue A Society. The tailgates the couple host are renowned in the Aggie Community where in 2016, their group won Tailgater of the Year. With their family closest to their hearts, Lane and Annette’s love for USU follows closely behind, as do the many Aggie friends they have made along the way.
Peter L. Kranz
2022 Alumnus of the Year
Utah State University alumnus and retired Psychology Professor Peter L. Kranz committed himself to educating students on the importance of differences in society and how tolerance benefits everyone in positive ways. Peter, who spent more than 55 years of practiced experience in psychology and academia, is known for his groundbreaking university courses about race integration.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in psychology from Grinnell College in 1963, Peter came to USU, where he earned a master’s in psychology in 1965. Completing coursework at Merrill Palmer Institute in 1965 and at Duquesne University in 1966, he later pursued a clinical psychology internship at the Oklahoma Medical Center in 1968. Peter completed his formal education at USU by earning a doctorate in child psychology in 1969.
Peter’s dedication to both teaching and learning had an incredible effect on the many students he influenced over the years. His course Human Conflict: Black and White at the University of North Florida during the 1970s implemented real-life applications by encouraging students of all races to converse with one another to realize their similarities and connect on a deeper level.
During his career, Peter has served as a faculty member at many higher education institutions, including Utah State University, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Florida Atlantic University, Tennessee Technological University, Eckerd College, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Florida. He has delivered many presentations about race relations, group dynamics and psychodrama at numerous psychology conferences around the world and served as a visiting professor in many countries.
Peter received many awards for his teaching on race relations and has garnered national media attention from news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and PBS’s “The Lehrer News Hour.” Most recently, his race relations class became the subject of the book An Area of Truth: Conflict in Black and White by author Terence Clark, which chronicles many of the conversations and confrontations that Peter’s students dealt with during his class.
A dedicated Aggie, Peter is an Old Main Society Member, Lifetime Member of the USU Alumni Association and a founding member of the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services Dean’s National Advancement Board. He has also sponsored a scholarship for psychology students at USU.
Shailaja S. Akkapeddi
2022 Alumna of the Year
Shailaja S. Akapeddi is a Utah State University alumna who has dedicated much of her life to helping people and programs in need. Since graduating from USU, Shailaja has spent much of her time not only serving as a board member for various nonprofits, but also as a volunteer because she enjoys mentoring, advising and supporting those who are served by these organizations because she feels it gives her better insight.
Hailing from Mumbai, India, Shailaja came together with her husband, Ajay, to attend graduate school at USU. Enrolling in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business’ MBA program, Shailaja met her mentor and now lifelong friend, USU Professor Basudeb Biswas, now retired. After graduating with an MBA in 1995, Shailaja continued her business education by earning another master’s from USU in 1998, this time in economics.
Shailaja currently focuses her time through service as a board member. At present, she serves on the board for the English Skills Learning Center and is a mentor and board member for the First Ascent Scholars Program at the David S. Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. Using her talents for business, Shailaja previously focused her career on working as an independent consultant that specializes in nonprofit capacity building, small business development and gender and development work. Her two passions are working on initiatives involving resettled refugees in Salt Lake City, with special focus on refugee women and grassroots nonprofit organizations that assist marginalized women in India.
Shailaja’s strong business acumen allowed for success in her career as she was able to use her expertise when she worked with the International Rescue Committee, Utah Micro Loan Fund, Women’s Business Institute at the Salt Lake Community College and the Neighborhood Partners program at the University of Utah. Her wide-ranging talents allowed Shailaja to help the organizations with one-on-one small business counseling, entrepreneurial curriculum development and group training, microloans, women’s economic empowerment workshops, management training for refugee community leaders, developing and piloting nonprofit capacity building incubator programs and outreach and advocacy for these programs.
Remembering her fondness for her USU alma mater, Shailaja gives back by contributing to the Aggie First Scholars scholarship program that supports first-generation students. Shailaja and Ajay live in Salt Lake City, where the couple raised their two children and enjoy the Utah outdoors and mountains with their dog, Logan, whose name reflects the couple’s great love for USU.
Oscar O. Marquina
Young Alumnus of the Year
A native of Venezuela, Oscar O. Marquina immigrated to the United States when he was 15 years old. Soon after beginning high school in New Jersey, Oscar realized he would need to save every penny in order to pay for and attend a university. His hard work both in and out of school gave Oscar the chance to be accepted and enrolled at Utah State.
Oscar found himself at USU and immediately became part of the Aggie Family after immersing himself in his studies, student activities and student clubs. As a mechanical engineering student in the College of Engineering, Oscar participated in as many scholarly activities as he could. By the time he earned a bachelor’s in 2006, Oscar had served as a member of USU’s Water Design Team that won the Water Environmental Association of Utah competition and was a member of Engineers Without Borders, an international program that helps create a more stable and prosperous world by addressing needs such as clean water, power, sanitation and education.
As a graduate student with USU’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Oscar was inspired by the school’s motto, “Dare Mighty Things.” And dare he did as Oscar not only started one but two small businesses that paid for school, both of which he later successfully grew and sold. Since earning an MBA in 2010, Oscar has gone on to a distinguished career in business. An investor with more than 10 years’ experience in enterprise transformations and turnarounds, Oscar specializes in organizational structures and management processes that enable companies to rapidly scale and grow. Currently, Oscar focuses on leveraging his business expertise as an angel investor and syndicator. While Oscar invests in B2B and enterprise solutions, nothing excites him more than watching new companies make a positive impact on society and the economy. Earlier in his career, Oscar worked for companies including Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Co. He also served as a nonprofit board director.
Oscar is a committed, passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion. As such, he cofounded McKinsey’s Hispanic and Latino Economic Forum, served as a board member of SHPE and frequently speaks on the topics of diversity, technology and the economic landscape. Due to his professional achievements and service to the community, Oscar was recognized as Utah’s 2022 “40 Under 40 Business Leader” by Utah Business Magazine and was among Prospanica’s 2018 “Top 40 Under 40 Hispanic Leaders" in Washington, D.C.
Young Alumnus of the Year
A loyal Aggie, Tyler Tolson used his drive to make a positive impact on the world during his time as a Utah State University student and continues to use that drive in both his professional and personal life.
As CEO and founder of Denik, a designer notebook and lifestyle product company, Tyler has dedicated much of his visionary spark to the foundation he received during his education at USU. Tyler’s vision for the company began during his time as a student when in 2011, he created and founded what would become Denik. Blossoming into a multimillion-dollar brand that serves customers including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Target in more than 16,000 retail locations in North America, the company has also designed custom notebooks for brands including Nike, Disney, Google, TikTok and Uber. The company’s success has allowed Tyler and Denik to make a difference on a global scale as it devotes a portion of its funds to build schools and support artists. To date, the Denik community has funded six schools — one each in Laos, Guatemala, Ghana and Nicaragua, and two in Mali, Africa.
A 2011 graduate of USU with a bachelor’s in communication studies from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tyler was actively involved in student life on campus. Well-known for his leadership style and outgoing personality, Tyler served not one but two consecutive terms as student body president for the Associated Students of Utah State University. His time on campus also saw him serve as Gear Up director in the Val R. Christensen Service Center, A-TEAM member and as part of the 2007 Aggie Blue Fall Leadership group.
Tyler’s enthusiastic involvement, service and foresight earned him recognition as one of three students in the world to be named a Young Emerging Leader by the Leader to Leader Institute in New York; saw him take home the Val R. Christensen Service Award in 2011 at the university’s annual Robins Awards; and won him the title Mr. USU in 2008. Years later, the dedicated Aggie continues to inspire students at USU. Tyler is commonly seen around campus as a guest lecturer and serves as a member of The Center for Entrepreneurship Founder's Board in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business.
Tyler’s life successes have garnered him many accolades over the years, including being named a “Top 40 Under 40” leader in the Gift and Stationery Industry. He is a sought-after expert for teaching and training audiences of various capacities and has consulted entrepreneurs, students and artists in all stages of business. Despite his success, Tyler’s greatest pride and accomplishments include marrying the girl of his dreams, fellow USU alum Nicole Watts Tolson, and raising his four children.
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