If you know an alum that should be recognized for their achievements, we want to know about them!
Please nominate a Simpson alum for their achievements so we can recognize and award them in October during Homecoming.
2022 Alumni Award Honorees
Recipients of this award have attained notable, widely recognized success or made a lasting contribution through their professional, philanthropic, or volunteer endeavors. Career field itself is not sufficient to qualify a member of the Simpson College Alumni Association for the award. Accomplishments within the career field must be exceptional. Recipients must also be contributing members of their communities and active members of the Simpson College Alumni Association.
Scott Melton ’86
Having transferred to Simpson College as a sophomore, Scott majored in international management and Spanish, graduating in 1986. He chose Simpson as it allowed him to pursue his passion of playing multiple sports while being able to enjoy a holistic approach to education that focused on more than just the classroom experience. Scott later earned his Masters of International Management in 1988 from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird).
While at Simpson, Scott lettered in football, basketball and tennis and stated that many of his favorite memories of his time at Simpson revolved around the sports he played. “Not so much the wins or losses, but memories of my teammates and the competition.”
Scott was active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes campus ministry and was a member of Phi Beta Lambda business club. As a junior, Scott was one of 11 students from Simpson that traveled with Professor Nia Kos to Merida, Mexico for three weeks where he lived with a local host family and studied in local schools.
Following his graduation from Thunderbird, Scott worked for National Bank of Detroit, ultimately becoming a vice president for the organization. He oversaw NAFTA lending working with US based customers who had locations in Canada and Mexico.
In 1995, Scott joined ACI Plastics, Inc., a leader in plastics recycling, as vice president for finance. He became the sole owner in 2007 after buying out the other two owners. The company survived the great recession of 2008-2009 and opened a new South Carolina location in 2010, a second plant in Michigan in 2011, Arizona location in 2012 and a Nebraska location in 2014. Scott credits his wife, Ann, with helping grow the business as she leads the sales team and product formulations. He also believes that one of his biggest professional honors is being a business owner and feeling the responsibility of providing employment for over 150 families.
Scott supports Simpson College because he believes in the type of education students receive at a place like Simpson. “Students should know there are success stories in the business world with people that attended small colleges, not just large universities. The small class structure and the opportunity to really get to know your professor is unique and something that shouldn’t be overlooked.”
When recounting how Simpson contributed to his success, Scott stated, “It was at Simpson where I first determined I wanted to own my own business. The classes I enjoyed the most were finance (Dr. Colella), marketing (Dr. Green), and statistics (Dr. Carter), all of which provided me with valuable book knowledge. Between my junior and senior year, I met with a recruiter at an event hosted at Simpson who told me I had to get my grades up if I wanted to get strong job offers. Encouraged by those words and the backing from my professors, I worked harder than before on my grades, and it paid off. I took a commercial lending job with NBD in Detroit out of grad school. The first loan I made at NBD was to ACI, the company I now own. Simpson was the start of this process which led me to where I am today.”
Trent Murphy ’90
Trent earned his Bachelor of Arts in environmental science and biology from Simpson College in 1990. He later earned his Master of Education from Drake University. While at Simpson, Trent was involved in cheerleading, intramurals, Beta Beta Beta science honor society, and is a member of Kappa Theta Psi Fraternity.
Trent taught science in Phoenix, Arizona, and at Valley High School prior to taking over his family business, CJM Financial, Inc. in 2000. In 2014, Trent became the sole owner of the business that he and his family had grown through the years.
Trent has consistently shown inspiring leadership, making sure to demonstrate his appreciation for his employees through events, profit sharing, and bonuses. He has also shown his ability to navigate challenges. In 2008, Trent’s entrepreneurial visions and goals allowed the business to sustain itself through the economic downturn. His money-saving and game-changing innovations included strategic partnerships that aided in the business growth of CJM Financial’s clients. This leadership has earned Trent and his employees the DMACC 2018 Small Business of the Year Award and the 2019 Better Business Bureau Award of Ethics. It was announced this August that CJM Financial would be acquired by FirstLine Funding Group based out of Madison, South Dakota after numerous national and international interests sought to merge with CJM Financial.
Trent has also shown his dedication to his community. He served on the Ankeny Community Schools Board of Directors from 2001-2011, was a mentor for numerous Ankeny Middle and High School students, mentored through the Greater Des Moines Partnership Junior Leadership program, has been a member of Ankeny Rotary since 2003, and has served on the Iowa Heart Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Ankeny Economic Development Board and is an active member of the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring numerous events and educational opportunities for the Chamber, serving on the policy and public affairs committees, and participating in the Greater Des Moines Partnership D.C. team for small business legislation. He is also a current member of the Ankeny Angel Investors.
At Simpson, Trent has been a member of the Simpson College Alumni Association Board of Directors, is a Lifetime Member of The Presidents’ Society with his late wife, Renee ’92, and is a staunch supporter of EMERGE@Simpson. Trent also served on the campaign committee for the Imagine the Impact Comprehensive Campaign and has established endowed student scholarships.
Trent’s philanthropy reaches widely, and his compassion for the people around him is evident. As his nominator stated, “Trent will never fully achieve his goals in life as he is always changing, adjusting, and adding to them daily. He is a lifelong learner and will continue to impact others around him.”
Michelle Nierling Jensen ’91
Majoring in health administration and communications, Michelle graduated from Simpson College in 1991 with her Bachelor of Arts. While at Simpson, she was junior class president, student body president, a resident assistant, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Little Sister and a charter member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She participated in volleyball, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and intramurals and was a member of the Zenith staff, Omicron Delta Kappa honors society and was named outstanding freshman in biology. Michelle would later earn her Executive Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business in 2015.
Michelle joined CarePro Health Services in 2006 as the manager of CarePro Home Medical. She became Chief Operations Officer of CarePro Health Services in 2011 and in 2015, she became president and CEO.
Leading the organization, Michelle understood that company transformation was critical to secure CarePro’s future. With the healthcare landscape continually changing, CarePro was required to alter its service offerings to best position the company for future growth. These transitions included a reduction in nursing services, working to place staff and patients with new agencies to ensure minimal hardship was felt, and focusing departmental goals around supporting Home Infusion services. Michelle was crucial to the acquisition of Kelly’s Home Medical, a conglomerate of DME stores in and around the Quad Cities, as well as the expansion of CarePro Home Medical into the Coralville market. Her dedication to entrepreneurship and innovation led CarePro to solidify its branding, uniting all locations under one banner that still strands proud within the community today. In 2018, to provide employees and patients with the opportunity to maintain jobs, locations, and services, the community pharmacy division was sold, which helped launch the formation of Rayser Holdings, Inc. Michelle was instrumental in the creation and formation of Rayser Holdings which she now oversees as President and CEO.
Since its inception in 2018, Michelle has led the Rayser Holdings team in completing three acquisitions and has solidified the shared services support structure. The diversification approach was implemented to provide optimal growth for Rayser Holdings’ employee owners, which has resulted in growing success across the Rayser community.
Michelle’s determination helped Rayser Holdings weather the August 2020 Derecho, which caused damage to several locations, but by her example, inspired ingenuity to ensure that the storm’s devastation caused minimal disruptions to Rayser’s customers across the state. Her dedication to leading with grace, grit and humor is what has helped her, and the employee owners she serves, navigate the many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has, and continues to throw at them.
Under Michelle’s leadership, Rayser Holdings was recognized as one of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridors fastest growing companies and one of the “Coolest Places to Work” in 2021.
Additionally, Michelle has been very involved within her community. She has served on the Cedar Rapids MedQuarter Commission since 2012 and has held the positions of chair (2017-2019) and marketing chair (2018-present). She has served on the Theatre Cedar Rapids Board of Directors since 2019 and the Waypoint Board of Directors since 2018, currently serving as president of the board and receiving the Waypoint Tribute to Women of Achievement Recognition in 2022. Additionally, Michelle serves on the EdgeData Board of Directors, the Rayser Holdings, Inc. Board of Directors, is a member of the American Heart Association Circle of Red and is mentor through the Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center Venture Mentoring Service.
At Simpson, Michelle has served as a Kappa Kappa Gamma advisor from 1991-1995, has been a guest speaker for the Health Services Leadership Program and is a member of the Presidents’ Society with her husband, Mark ’90.
“Simpson contributed to my success by providing opportunities. Engagement was encouraged and I had the opportunity to get involved in many different organizations and experiences. The honor to serve as Student Body President provided me with exposure to the Board of Trustees and several other Simpson visitors and groups. My internship experience helped me solidify my direction and the types of positions I would want to pursue following graduation.”