48 credit union leaders graduate in SCMS 50th Commencement

Jul 20, 2023, 00:00 AM by SCMS
The SCMS Class of 2023 celebrates the completion of three years’ college-level credit union and leadership education.
SCMS 50th Anniversary Logo

The 50th Commencement ceremony of Southwest CUNA Management School took place Friday, July 14, when 48 graduates were honored for their completion of three years of college-level credit union and leadership education.

In addition to the Class of 2023 being the 50th commencement in the history of the school, SCMS Director Janine McBee can claim it to be her 30th. As one of just five directors who have overseen SCMS, McBee said it’s been fun to look back over 30 years and see how far the school has evolved. 

“It makes my heart happy to have fostered professional development and credit union growth with over 1,200 rising leaders,” McBee said. “A special thank you to Cornerstone and the alumni association for their support of the ongoing transformation of SCMS.

Awards and Recognition

In addition to high praise from Cornerstone League program leaders and the school’s faculty, highlights of the event included awards for students whose efforts stood a cut above.

c2c: Connect to Collaborate Young Professional Award

The c2c: Connect to Collaborate Young Professional Award was presented to Kelly Davis with Common Cents Federal Credit Union. This award is for those 40 and under. Classmates vote on the individual who exhibits the most leadership in that class. Davis will receive reimbursement for one year of the SCMS tuition that was paid by their credit union.   

Distinguished Professional of the Year

The Distinguished Professional of the Year Award was presented to Jacob Burrow with Quantum Credit Union. This award recognizes a third-year student in the age group of 40 and above. Among the qualifications for this award, Burrow had to have served as a mentor and resource to classmates.

Alumnus of the Year

The Alumnus of the Year Award recognizes an individual who is a leader and active supporter of SCMS and the Alumni Association and who demonstrates credit union ideals and philosophy. The 2023 Alumnus of the Year was presented to Melissa Burleson, SCMS Class of 2019, with Tarrant County’s Credit Union.

Honor Graduates

The selection process for Honor Graduates is rigorous because the competition is steep. To receive honors, a student must create three comprehensive core assignments with a focus on strategic outcomes for the credit union, illustrate on a broad level the potential impact of strategic decisions across operations, and display proficiency in financial management. This year, SCMS recognized seven Honor Graduates:

  • Kristen Jester, InTouch CU
  • Kelsey Joseph, Superior CU, Inc.
  • Jennifer Kelley, Common Cents CU
  • Frances Pérez, InTouch CU
  • Stephanie Robb, BluCurrent CU
  • Bridger Robinson, InTouch CU
  • Amanda White, FivePoint CU

Award of Excellence

The Southwest CUNA Management School Award of Excellence is designed to recognize a student who has demonstrated the highest level of excellence in all aspects of the school, from project to presentation to leadership. This year, two students received this honor:

  • Valarie Ivester, Greater Texas FCU
  • Krysten Koval, Texans CU

Class of 2023

SCMS Class of 2023

The 48 graduates of the 2023 Southwest CUNA Management School are:


  • Jacob Burrow, Quantum CU 


  • Stephanie Robb, BluCurrent CU 


  • Queenie Qualls, Statewide FCU 


  • Kelsey Joseph, Superior CU, Inc. 


  • Chasitie Fitzgerald, Tinker FCU 
  • Andrew Jarrett, TTCU FCU 
  • Joanna Riley, Muskogee FCU 
  • Alisha Taylor, Correctional Workers FCU 
  • Phillip Wagner, Fire Fighters CU 
  • Amanda Wall, Tinker FCU 
  • TJ White, Energy One FCU 


  • Brandi Boney, Local 20 IBEW FCU 
  • Mistie Carpenter, Wellspring FCU 
  • Daniel Cruhm, Texas Associations of Professionals FCU 
  • Venoka Daniels, Southwest Financial FCU 
  • Yessenia Fuentes, Community Resource CU 
  • Juan Garcia, Select FCU 
  • Olivia Gill, AMOCO FCU 
  • Sherilyn Goad, RGV Credit Union 
  • Stuart Himmelstein, Texas People FCU 
  • Kevin Hood, 1st University CU 
  • Valarie Ivester, Greater Texas FCU 
  • James Johnson, AMOCO FCU 
  • Alyssa Jurkis, Abilene Teachers FCU 
  • Michelle Justice, Fort Worth City CU 
  • Jennifer Kelley, Common Cents FCU 
  • Joanna Knape, AMOCO FCU 
  • Krysten Koval, Texans CU 
  • Megan A. Llanes, Eastex CU 
  • Ivan Logan, GECU FCU 
  • DeAndre Massey, First Community CU 
  • Hannah Nagos, Southwest Heritage CU 
  • Melanie Palmer, Red River Emp FCU 
  • Gerald Q. Pennington, Rally CU 
  • Frances Pérez, InTouch CU 
  • Bridger Robinson, InTouch CU 
  • Cecilia C. Rodriguez, Family 1st of Texas FCU 
  • Kristen Jester, InTouch CU 
  • Yesenia Silva, First Central CU 
  • Michelle Stanley, Security First FCU 
  • Loan Tran, Port Arthur Teachers FCU 
  • Erin Turk, Education First FCU 
  • Valarie Weaver, Texas Trust CU 
  • Charles Grant Weiland, Border FCU 
  • Amanda White, FivePoint CU 
  • Michelle Young, Mobiloil CU 
SCMS Commencement, Scholarship Fund for Foundation


The Class of 2023 made a significant contribution to the Cornerstone Foundation’s SCMS Scholarship Fund, “paying it forward” to benefit other students in need of assistance to help make their education dreams come true. The class raised $7,350 for the fund.

After enjoying brunch with a harpist as accompaniment and the awards presentations, Grant Weiland, the Class of 2023 president from Border FCU, delivered the farewell address. 

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