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The Eureka College banner honors Thomas Vaughn, a class of 1961 graduate of the college known as a jazz musician. Twenty banners on lampposts at Eureka College honor prominent alumni.

EUREKA — Former President Ronald Reagan may be Eureka College's most famous alumnus, but he is not the only graduate to have a successful career or make a difference.

Twenty alumni are featured on banners hanging on lampposts across campus.

Yes, Reagan is among them. But so is Elijah Dickinson, who became the school's first graduate in 1860 and went on to serve as an officer in the Civil War and work as a teacher, surveyor and farmer.

One banner features Durward Sandifer, Class of 1924, a key person in the writing of the U.N. Declaration of Rights.

Another features 1992 graduate Janelle Miller Reents, who went from being a teenage worker at Monical's Pizza in Washington to president of the company.

“We wanted to reflect a broad range of accomplishments of Eureka College alums and to have them encompass the whole school, with examples of all the different career paths,” explained Mike Murtagh, vice president of institutional advancement.

That's why you will find Emory Ross, Class of 1908, who spent his career working as a missionary in Africa, along with 1984 graduate Mary Finch, a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus.

Thomas Vaughn, Class of 1961, a jazz pianist who performed with Gene Krupa and opened for Miles Davis, also was an Episcopal minister.

Dr. Brad Sutton, Class of 1999, a cardiologist and medical school professor, co-founded the International Health Care Development Program, providing medical assistance in developing countries.

The banners reflect the core values of the institution, providing opportunities for success, Murtagh said.

From its founding in 1855, Eureka College admitted men and women on an equal basis — the first college in the state and third in the nation to do so.

“We're 160 years young,” Murtagh said. “We are about the future, but we're exceedingly proud of our past.”

One purpose of the banners is to show today's students they have the same “opportunities to achieve their dreams and aspiration as others who have walked on the same paths as they are,” Murtagh said.

Although there are only 20 banners, Murtagh said they represent thousands of Eureka College graduates who went on to “make a contribution to their communities, be good citizens and mothers and fathers and be successful” in many fields, at the highest levels of their professions.

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Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota

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