Hillsdale College alumni who represent the college in business, a state supreme court, and even in the White House will be presented with awards at the 67th Annual Alumni Award Banquet this weekend.
Three alumni will receive awards at the banquet on Sept. 21: White House speechwriter Brittany Baldwin ’12; Michelle Behrenwald ’88, co-chair and co-owner of AIS Construction Equipment; and Will Sellers ’85, appointed as an associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2017.
An honorary alumni award will also be presented to Professor of Law Robert Blackstock and Lecturer in Economics Jacqueline Blackstock.
Baldwin will receive the “Outstanding Young Alumna Award for Conspicuous Achievement in Speechwriting” at the banquet.
“As a college student, Brittany Baldwin impressed everyone with her quiet brilliance and her Texas-sized heart,” said Dedra Birzer, lecturer of history. “Her career as a speechwriter, first for Sen. Ted Cruz, and now for President Trump, allows her to bring her Hillsdale education in the good, the true, and the beautiful to a national podium.”
Baldwin graduated magna cum laude from Hillsdale with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies. She was also voted Outstanding Senior Woman her senior year. Birzer recalled Baldwin’s beautiful writing as a student that carried insightful arguments and conveyed wisdom well beyond her years.
“Whenever I hear a particularly visionary and well-written line from a Trump speech, I think, ‘Brittany must have written that!’” Birzer said.
John Miller, director of Hillsdale’s Dow Journalism Program, had Baldwin in his Advanced Writing course his first semester teaching at the college. Miller noted her intelligence and hard working attitude.
“As a student she expressed an interest in speechwriting and she went out and got it,” Miller said. “She deserves this award.”
Behrenwald will receive the “Distinguished Alumna Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement in Business.”
Behrenwald graduated from Hillsdale with an accounting major and German minor. She earned a master’s degree in communications from Grand Valley State University. Behrenwald is the co-chair and co-owner of AIS Construction Equipment Corporation and serves on the Federal Reserve Board in Chicago. Director of Alumni Relations Grigor Hasted noted Behrenwald’s accomplishments.
“She is a very impressive woman,” Hasted said. “Not only does she lead a sizable and very successful business here in Michigan, but it’s very rare for a woman to run a heavy equipment company.”
Behrenwald has a passion for helping people unleash their purpose and potential. She is a member of the President’s Club, and both her and her company have supplied equipment for the Hillsdale shooting sports program, including vehicles for the Sporting Clays course.
“She has also been a generous supporter of the college,” Hasted said. “She’s very deserving of the Alumni Achievement Award.”
Sellers, who will receive the “Distinguished Alumnus Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement in Law,” graduated magna cum laude with a double major in history and political economics and a minor in English. Sellers earned a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law and a Master of Laws degree in taxation at New York University. Sellers was appointed an Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in May 2017.
Mark Kalthoff, professor and chairman of history, and Sellers were students together at Hillsdale. They lived in in an off-campus house together during Seller’s sophomore year and Kalthoff’s junior year. Kalthoff praised Seller’s diligence, hard-working nature, and seriousness for both his faith and his academics. He noted that Sellers held himself to a certain standard.
“He was the first guy I knew who took his shirts to the cleaners once a week and to get them pressed,” Kalthoff said. “I am not at all surprised by his success and accomplishments.”
Though not alumni, the Blackstocks will receive an honorary alumni award at the banquet. Robert Blackstock has taught at the college since 1977 and has been honored as Professor of the Year three times. He has worked for Institutional Advancement and Admissions and served as the college provost and acting president.
Jacqueline Blackstock, Robert’s wife, began teaching business statistics at Hillsdale in 1989, and has been heavily involved in the community and local government.
“Our time at Hillsdale has been wonderful, filled with so many dear friends and family, and always in that challenging yet supportive, caring, warm environment that makes the College such a very rich home,” Robert Blackstock said in an email. “We have always been proud to be part of the College, and now so very grateful to be honored in this way.”