Beau Kilmer, Ph.D addresses the Class of 2019 by offering advice to them.

OSCODA – Four Oscoda High School (OHS) alumni were honored at this year’s graduation held on Sunday, June 9.

The four that received Distinguished Alumni Awards (DAA) included David K. Vaughan, Ph.D, Kenneth B. Gum, MD, Bill Burdett, JD and Beau Kilmer, Ph.D.

“This award was established to recognize alumni who have used their educational foundation to achieve significant accomplishments and excellence in their chosen professions,” said DAA Committee Member Mary Reitler.

A plaque will be proudly displayed towards the front of the building in honor and as a reminder of what OHS graduates can accomplish.

The first to be honored at the ceremony was Vaughan who graduated from Oscoda High School in 1958 as the salutatorian. He attended The United States Air Force Academy after receiving a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Science in engineering sciences in 1962. Additionally, he graduated from US Air Force Pilot training a year later. 

According to nominator Bill Parsons, Vaughan served in the Air Force for 20 years and retired after a career of being a pilot and educator. While serving in the Air Force, he received his Master’s degree from the University of Michigan in English and literature and received his Ph.D from the University of Washington.

“It’s quite an honor to be here,” said Vaughan.

Throughout his time serving, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his flight to Khe Sahn on Feb. 4, 1968 and the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters. He logged 3,500 flying hours and several years as an Air Force Academy professor. He also  worked as an English professor at the University of Maine, Air Force Institute of Technology and Sultan Qaboos University in Oman. In addition to his decorated academic career, Vaughan is also the author of eight books.

The second inductee was OHS Class of 1976 Valedictorian Gum. He attended Oakland University after receiving a full academic scholarship. He graduated with his Bachelor of Science. Following graduation, he attended the University of Michigan (U of M) Medical School and graduated with a medical degree with emphasis in ophthalmology.

He completed his residency at The U of M Kellogg Eye Center and moved to Traverse City to eventually open his own practice, Traverse City Eye Center. He specializes in all areas of eye care with an emphasis on difficult eye diseases and surgeries according to nominator and former OHS Teacher Fred Miller.

He is also a founding member of the Copper Ridge Surgery Center, an outpatient facility as well as an accomplished author. Gum addressed the graduating class and encouraged them to always tell the truth.

Class of 1994 Valedictorian Bill Burdett, was the third to be honored at the DAA ceremony.  Burdett along with classmate Kilmer, won the Michigan Interscholastic Forensic Association state championship in debate in 1993 and 1994.

Following  graduation he attended Yale University after being the recipient of a National Merit Scholarship. He received his Bachelor of Arts in history and political science and was awarded the Heinrich von Stadden cup by his residential college. He later attended the University of Michigan Law School and received his Juris Doctor Degree.

In 2013, he received a Top Lawyers Award for his work in first amendment law. He currently serves as an attorney at Howard and Howard. He is one of the youngest members of the Board of Trustees of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and serves on their Talent & Diversity Practices subcommittees. Burdett and Kilmer were both nominated by Reitler.

“I can’t tell you how honored I am to stand here today and receive this award,” said Burdett. “It’s truly one of the most touching moments in my life.”

Additionally, he offered a bit of encouragement and advice for the graduates.

“If you always pursue what you love you can never go wrong and just best of luck to you in the future and congratulations on everything you’ve accomplished,” said Burdett.

The final inductee was OHS Class of 1994 Kilmer. After graduating from OHS, Kilmer attended James Madison College at Michigan State University and received his Bachelor of Arts in 1998. He went on to attend the Berkley Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California Berkeley and received his Master’s degree in Public Policy in 2000. In 2007, he attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and received his Ph.D.

He currently works as a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, as well as, RAND Drug Policy Research Center Co-Director, RAND San Francisco Bay Area Interim Director and Pardee RAND graduate School professor. He also co-authored a book on cannabis legalization that was published by Oxford University Press and received an honorable mention for  the Behavioral Exchange Award for Outstanding Research, in conjunction with is co-authored research.

Additionally, he recently received a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Public Service Award for his “leadership and innovation in the areas of alcohol and drug-impaired driving program and policy research.”

“It really is a tremendous honor to be here,” said Kilmer.

“Whether it be graduating from high school or receiving some award, events like this are about celebrating your accomplishments, but it’s also a time to think about all those people who helped you get to this point,” said Kilmer to the graduating class.