Francis Marion University honored Michael A. Blue (’85) as its 2017 Outstanding Alumnus at the university’s annual Alumni Awards Gala. Blue was one of five FMU alums honored at the March 2 event held at the FMU Performing Arts Center in downtown Florence.
Blue earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from FMU and proceeded to teach at Marion High School from 1986 to 2011. He is the Bishop at Door of Hope Church in Marion and has served as the Presiding Prelate of the Christian Covenant Fellowship of Ministries since 2000. Judge Melissa J. Buckhannon received the Professional Industry Achievement Award in Public Service and Law.
Buckhannon graduated from Francis Marion University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She is currently a judge on the South Carolina Family Court Bench. Before her ascension to the bench, Buckhannon practiced law in Horry County from 1995 until 2014. While a student at FMU, she was a member of the Pi Gamma Mu and Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies.
John P. Sweeney received the Benjamin Wall Ingram III Young Alumni Award. Sweeney is a 2009 graduate of FMU, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication. Sweeney is currently the director of business development at the North Eastern Strategic Alliance in Florence. As a student at FMU, he was president of the Student Media Association and a member of the Model United Nations.
Dr. John M. Kirby, Jr. received the Professional Industry Achievement Award in Education and Arts. Kirby graduated from FMU in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree and again in 1979 with a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. Kirby has served the Latta School District in Dillon County since 1985, and most notably as the district’s superintendent for the past 27 years.
Michael Youssef received an award of Special Recognition. Youssef graduated from Francis Marion University in 2015 with a Political Science degree. He is currently an account manager at ADP in Florence. In 2016, he was named President of the Hispanic Business Resource Group at ADP and elected President of the Toastmaster Club at ADP, and in 2017, he became a United States citizen.