Graduates honored at Distinguished Alumni breakfast


Kayleigh Moreland

Alumnus Carl Finch delivers his speech to the crowd of attendees.

Story by Joseph Rodgers, staff writer

TISD honored the 2016 Distinguished Alumni at a breakfast while speaking to leadership students on Friday, Oct. 28. Businesswoman Melanie Kusin Rowe and musician Carl Finch both spoke about their personal experiences and lives at the event to inspire the students to find the intersection between passion and talent to achieve their goals and dreams.

“There is no better way to honor our alumni than having them speak to our students,” Superintendent Paul Norton said. “We want to show the students who are still going through high school how others made it before them, and just have them interact with the Distinguished Alumni to springboard their lives and careers from example.”

Carl Finch was one of the Distinguished Alumni for making a lifetime career of music and exploring the genre of polka with his band, Brave Combo.

“My achievements as a musician have provided an income for me,” said Finch. “I’m really glad I could transform this area in music to allow people to appreciate it. More importantly, my wife and I have had the opportunity to be very involved with animal rights and we have saved many animals. This area of life is very important to me, and I take pride in protecting those who cannot defend themselves.”

Melanie Kusin Rowe was the accompanying Distinguished Alumni after she became the vice-chairman of board and CEO services of Korn Ferry International in New York City. Also an author, she has assisted many major companies in CEO searches and talks about her frequent speaking engagements.

“The world of business has allowed me to learn many things over time that were very valuable, and students now have everything at their fingertips,” Rowe said. “The Southern lifestyle has given me many advantages in communicating with others just by executing simple manners and holding myself up.”

Both alumni enjoyed being back at home and giving an account of their life experiences to current students.

“I am very honored to become a Distinguished Alumni,” Finch said. “This is my home, my heritage and where my life started, and nothing will ever change that.”