Montana State University Billings
Outstanding Alumni Award Winners
Distinguished Alumna: Bobby Anner-Hughes
Occupation: Lawyer at Anner-Hughes Law Firm
Degrees: 1980, Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education - MSU Billings
Bobby Anner-Hughes grew up in North Dakota and in 1977 she and her husband Ed decided to make the venture west to Billings. Bobby has raised two children, taught high school, lead the speech and debate teams at Billings Senior and Butte Central, had a successful 20-year law practice, served on the Board of Trustees for the MSU Billings Foundation and is a state champion golf coach! She seems to have done it all during the course of her life.
Bobby graduated in 1980 from, what was then Eastern Montana College and then went to the University of Montana to obtain her Juris Doctorate. Since her graduation she has faithfully contributed financially through the MSU Billings Foundation and most recently donated to the Opportunity Campaign for MSU Billings Scholarships. Besides her financial generosity, Bobby is also being recognized for her professional success as an accomplished trial lawyer, advocate and counselor. She has the ability to relate and understand the people she represents, which is what makes her such a compassionate and wonderful person to work with and for.
Perseverance, hard work, and the desire to change the world have made Bobby a role model for the youth of today.
Merit Medallion: Jeremy Vannatta
Occupation: Director of Business Outreach, Recruitment & Marketing, Big Sky Economic Development Authority
Degrees: 1999, Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies – MSU Billings
Jeremy Vannatta has played an active role as a community member and MSU Billings Alumni since the day he graduated. He has had a positive impact on everyone he has worked with inside and outside of MSU Billings. Once serving as President and Vice President of the Alumni Advisory Board, Jeremy attends events, socials and sport functions to remain supportive of his alma mater.
Being a valuable friend of MSUB Billings is not all that Jeremy is being honored for; he is being recognized for his vibrant spirit, ability to connect the community to the MSU Billings campus, students and alumni, and his commitment to professionalism.
As the director of Business for the Big Sky Economic Development Authority, Jeremy is dynamic, enthusiastic and creative. Since he earned his degree in 1999, Jeremy has influenced people in every position that he has held as a professional. From Membership Director at Billings Chamber of Commerce to “Yellowstone Valley Women” magazine (operated and owned by Jeremy and his wife), he has shaped his future by working hard and striving to be the best.
Ronald P. Sexton Award for Professional Commitment: Kathy Kotecki
Occupation: Director of Community Involvement, MSU Billings
Degrees: 1997, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - MSU Billings
Kathy has spent her professional career contributing to the success of MSU billings in multiple capacities. While still an undergraduate student, Kathy was a Residency Assistant (RA) in the residence halls at MSU Billings, and what seems like minutes after graduating from MSU Billings, she took over as the Resident Hall Director for Petro Hall. She served in that capacity for six years; during that time she completed her Master’s degree program in Interdisciplinary Studies. She then became the Director of Housing and Community Involvement. Kathy then became the full time permanent director of the newly established Office for Community Involvement. In Kathy’s current position as Director of Community Involvement and Student Leadership, she works diligently to connect MSU Billings students, faculty and staff to the Billings community meaningful in ways.
To quote from a letter of recommendation received for Kathy, submitted by Julie Seedhouse:
This award is not just about the work Kathy does, but it is also about the person she is. She has worked in several different capacities for MSUB, and in every capacity her quality of work does not change. Only excellence is acceptable to Kathy. She undertakes every task with passion and a true and evident love for what she’s doing. This shows not only in the work she does every day, but also in the many other departments who seek her out to help with their work. She dedicates countless hours to scholarship selection for the MSUB Foundation, she shows up at every single campus event she is able to attend, she is the first call many people make for search committees, she is asked to provide leadership in the discussion about new programs—she is quite simply a consistent and beloved presence at MSUB.
Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Laurentiu Istrate
Occupation: Resident, Cascade East Family Residency Program
Degrees: 2003. Master of Health Administration
Larry was born and grew up in Romania. He graduated from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Grigore T. Popa" Iasi- School of Medicine and looked for opportunities to broaden his medical training abroad.
After leaving the country Larry and his family moved to Mapoteng, Lesotho. There he worked as general practitioner and when political instability in the country escalated, Larry and his family relocated to the U.S.
While teaching at Little Big Horn College, where he coordinated the pre-professional health programs and lead water quality research on the Crow Reservation he completed a Master’s Degree in Health Administration at Montana State University Billings. Following that, he occupied several positions in health care management ultimately leading him to his end goal to qualifying for the final step in returning to medical practice. Larry is currently a Resident in the Cascades East Family Medicine Residency Program in Klamath Falls, OR.
Recognition for Exceptional Achievement: Sue Schuld
Occupation: Special Education Teacher, West Laurel Elementary School
Degrees: 1972, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – MSU Billings
Born in Bismarck, North Dakota, Sue came to Billings in 1961. Sue received her bachelors’ degrees in education and art in 1972 and she began her teaching career at Pretty Eagle School in St. Xavier, MT. Sue entered the Master’s degree in Special Education at Eastern Montana College after receiving the diagnosis of her son’s condition (severe autism, characterized by a lack of language skills) and graduated in 1988. Sue has been teaching for over 30 years and continues with her passion for art in various ways. She painted a mural for the library at the South Laurel School, painted artist/author murals in her West Laurel School Library, and in 2008 she illustrated Pixie – Sled Dog of Snow Park, a very popular children’s book by her friends Lela and Harry Schlitz. Sue has been active in Montana Special Olympics, and she continues to draw, paint, knit, and sew.
To quote a recommendation letter submitted for Sue for this recognition by Lillian Pisch Hartung:
Sue has worked at West Elementary with many of the most challenging special education students. She started in a self-contained classroom of elementary students with moderate to severe physical, mental, and behavioral needs. Not one to shy away from a difficult student, Sue puts the needs of the children ahead of her own. A tireless advocate for her students, and in particular autistic students, Sue works hard to try to structure the school environment to be as safe and low stress an environment as possible, most recently trying to implement the ABLLS Program in the school and set up an ABLLS classroom there and using iPad technology as a learning tool. Sue used both grant money and money she won in a raffle to fund these projects. She continues to work with staff and parents to best meet the children’s needs and draws from her life experiences as the single mother of a special needs son to support the parents as they go through their own life journeys.
See also: Nomination Process and Award Criteria