Hardin-Simmons Honors Outstanding Young Alumni with Achievement Award

The HSU Board of Young Associates and the Office of Alumni Relations will host the 12th Annual Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Banquet on Februrary 20, 2015.


The Board of Young Associates (BYA), in conjunction with the Office of Alumni Relations, will host the twelfth annual Outstanding Young Alumni Awards Banquet at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20 in the multipurpose room of the Johnson Building. The award recipients this year are Mr. Justin Furnace ’01, Mr. Jason Newman ’95 and Allison Rhodes Ex ’95.

This award is given to the three alumni, that at the time of selection graduated from Hardin-Simmons University no more than 20 years prior and are not over the age of 45. The award is presented to those that have achieved a significant level of distinction in their field or brought extraordinary benefit to the world.

“[The award] stemmed from a realization that young alumni of Hardin-Simmons University are doing great things in their fields of endeavor and/or in their community/state/nation, and an avenue for recognizing these efforts was needed,” Britt Jones, director of Alumni Relations said. “Additionally, the Young Associates realized this award category would be yet another way of connecting the University with her young alumni.”

Furnace graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in history and went on to receive his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Texas Tech University in 2004. He is the Corporate Manager of External Affairs for Hilcorp Energy Company, one of the largest privately owned oil and gas companies in the United States and he serves on the Board of Directors for Zion Oil and Gas, a company devoted to finding oil in Israel.

He visited HSU because his pastor in Belton, Texas was an alumnus and when he came to campus he knew it was the place that God wanted him to be at. Furnace was a member of Phi Alpha Theta and the Moot Court team while at HSU. During his time at HSU Furnace was impacted by Victor Carrillo, ’86, who taught legal studies and Dr. Don Taylor, professor of history.

“Victor Carrillo became a life-long friend and mentor and I later became his Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel while he was the Chairman of the Railroad Commission,” Furnace said. “He convinced me to go to law school and profoundly influenced my career. Dr. Don Taylor has a passion for history and it showed in his teaching. I love history and always will due in large measure to the hours I spent in his classroom.

While attending HSU Furnace met his wife, Lyndee (Pursley) Furnace, ’01, they now have three children Andrew, Justin and Mason.

Before working at Hilcorp Furnace served as the President of the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association. He currently serves on multiple boards including the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Marcellus Shale Coalition. He is also a current member of the HSU Board of Development and previous member of the BYA.

Furnace encourages students to look for ways to expand their horizons in order for HSU graduates to attain the highest levels in their                         chosen fields.

“Now is the time to set yourself up for a lifetime of future success,” Furnace said. “For some it will mean a graduate program, others will head directly into the workforce. Either way do not accept ceilings placed by others, or yourself, on your achievement. There will be times when opportunities will present themselves to you that will have the potential to change your trajectory. You not only have to be wise enough to recognize them but also ambitious and motivated enough to maximize them.”

Newman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and went on to attend South Texas College of Law where he graduated as valedictorian with his Doctorate of Jurisprudence in 2004. After law school he started as an associate at Baker Botts LLP in Houston and in 2014 he was made a partner.

For Newman HSU was a family affair, his father Dr. George Newman, professor of biology for over 25 years exposed him to campus life from an early age.

“HSU is truly home to me,” Newman said. “I literally grew up there, following my day around campus and going on field trips with his students to the Guadalupe Mountains and our family land. It was natural for me to complete my undergraduate education there.”

Newman has received the Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service, he has been recognized as a “Texas Rising Star” multiple times and he has been listed as a recommended energy litigator in “The Legal 500 U.S.”

Newman holds multiple court admissions and affiliations including the State Bar of Texas, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas and he is on the Advisory Board for the Institute for Energy. He has also published in multiple law journals and presented at various symposiums and conferences.

He and his wife Jamie (Ellis) Newman have two children, Rhett and Wyatt.

HSU was also a family affair for Rhodes, who majored in political science and minored in leadership studies, she went on to earn her Bachelors of Arts in political science and economics from Columbia University – Barnard College and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Nearly 20 of her relatives, including her dad, mom and grandfather graduated from HSU and she grew up hearing their stories about campus.

“When deciding on colleges, I visited other schools, but HSU is where I felt most comfortable and I knew it was a community and education that fit my priorities,” Rhodes said.

While at HSU Rhodes was active in Student Congress, holding the position of Committee Chair for University Queen Coronation, a member of Sigma Alpha, Concert Band, Model UN, the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageants and part of Freshman SING!. Rhodes was influenced by her time in Dr. Lanny Hall’s classroom, who at the time taught a Legislative Process class which influenced her decision to study political science, along with other professors who pushed her to be better.

“As part of the [Legislative Process] class, we visited the Texas state capitol, met with elected officials, and heard fascinating first-hand stories about the behind-the-scenes legislative process,” Rhodes said. “I was also part of the inaugural class for the Leadership Studies program led by Drs. Turner and Whitehorn which was a fantastic learning experience that I still reflect upon.”

In her sophomore year Rhodes participated in a Model UN trip to compete in New York City, which would completely change the course her life was taking.

“Those few days opened up an entirely new world to me and within a matter of months I would move to NYC, making it my permanent home for the next 11 years,” Rhodes said.

She spent eight of those years exploring different fields from investment banking to television production to public relations before finding that finance was her niche. She became the Vice President and Private Wealth Advisor for Goldman Sachs in 2008.

Rhodes hopes that HSU students will make the most of the opportunities that are given to them in order to maximize their chances at success after graduation.

“Make the most of every summer during college to get internships that allow you to explore career fields and develop professional skills,” Rhodes said. “It will help you immensely in securing a great job upon graduation and propelling your career forward faster. Believe in yourself, work hard, have a positive attitude, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.”

This year’s award winners speak to the caliber of graduates that HSU is sending out into the world in every vocational area. These three stand as a goal for current students to strive for.


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