Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards

Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award


Carol McAdoo
Class of 1971

Carol McAdooShe's a writer, an editor, a storyteller, a speaker, and recently became a grandmother for the first time.


Now, Carol McAdoo Rehme can put another credential beside her name.


Cowley County Community College is honoring the 1971 graduate with its 2003 Outstanding Tiger Alumnus Award, to be presented during the college's 80 th commencement exercises at 7:30 p.m. May 10 in W.S. Scott Auditorium.


"This is such a thrill and a surprise," said Rehme, who lives in Loveland, Colo., with her husband Norman. "When I received the call, first of all I was humbled. But thrill came real quick on its heels."


Carol, an Arkansas City native, writes prolifically for the inspirational market. She has six stories in the highly competitive Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and recently took on the responsibility of managing editor for Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul.


"It's really a fun and uplifting book to do," Carol said.


As managing editor of the book, a job she took last fall, Carol helps screen the thousands of stories that are submitted. As the stories are selected for the book, Carol rewrites and edits.


"It's a challenge because you want to keep the integrity of the writer," she said. "It's a thrill because people are writing from their inner heart."


The book, targeted for release in 2004, will contain 101 stories, just like all of the Chicken Soup books.


Carol has had a hand in several Chicken Soup books. She has sold 100 stories for anthologies, and recently was designated as one of Chicken Soup for the Soul's most prolific authors. She's in a dozen of their books, sometimes with several stories in the same book. In fall 2002, Carol was honored by Chicken Soup for the Soul co-founders Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hanson by having her name appear on the cover of Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman's Soul.

"My stories are all non-fiction," she said. "And they're not necessarily about my personal life. I often will research something and write about it. I also collect stories from other people."


She is the primary contributor to two hardbound gift collections, "An Angel By Your Side" and "Whispers from Heaven for the Christmas Spirit." Other stories were published in "Tea-Time Stories for Mothers" and "Heart-Stirring Stories of Love." Still more will appear in several of the upcoming "God Allows U-Turns" volumes. In the magazine market, Carol has free-lanced for both adult and children's publications.


While writing takes up what little free time Carol has, her primary activity involves directing and developing programming through Vintage Voices, Inc., a non-profit organization she founded. Carol has been busy writing grants and performing programs in 13 elder care facilities each month in northern Colorado. She performs for adult daycare centers, assisted living, and long-term nursing care facilities. She received the No. 1 grant from the Colorado Council on the Arts for 2003 to continue working with those facilities.


"That was humbling," Carol said of receiving the grant. "But it feels like they're recognizing not only a need, but the art forms that go into it. It endorses and validates it.


"I perform a lot of what I write and publish. I take in interdisciplinary programs that are thematic and incorporate music, story, reminisce, creative movement, and tactile stimulants and try to offer a quality program to one of the under-served segments of communities. It's one of my favorite things to do."


Carol's performances are funded by the grants she writes.


"I have a real passion for this," she said. "I wanted to find something to do with my life that I was as passionate about as raising children, and I've achieved that."


And now she's a grandmother.


"I'm way too young for this," she said. "This is probably the most exciting title I've ever earned."


Carol grew up in Arkansas City and was a writer almost from the beginning. At age 8, she was the scribe for her Bluebird Troop and had stories printed in the paper. "I loved seeing my name in print," she said. And her ninth-grade English teacher, Geneva Maag, wrote on the top of a book report on Uncle Tom's Cabin, "You are a writer."


After editing student newspapers at Arkansas City High School, Cowley, and then Wichita State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree majoring in journalism and minoring in speech and sociology, Carol went a different direction with her writing. But not until after she spent the next 25 years of her life raising four children.


"I thought writing translated to journalism," she said. "Truly, I much prefer this creative non-fiction, where I found my niche. You can get very literary. There's more room for metaphor and imagery and those sorts of things. I've evolved with this."


Carol immerses herself in anything she attempts. That was evident when she finished her coursework at Cowley in three semesters, in December 1970, and then WSU in 1972. She gave up full and half scholarships to two other schools to attend Cowley. Her time at Cowley left a lasting impression.


"When I went over to register, Mary Margaret Williams hired me on the spot to work in the registrar's office," Carol said. "Working with her was just a delight. My two biggest cheerleaders were (then college president) Gwen Nelson and dean (W.S.) Scott. Those three probably influenced me the most as far as educators there."


Carol also remembers taking organ lessons from Fostine Moncrief.


"I use music a lot in my programs," she said. "I remember her emphasizing to me that if you make a mistake, you just keep going. As a performer and a writer, you just keep going, keep trying."


And in speech teacher J.P. Dewell's class, Carol learned another valuable piece of information.


"For the first time, I recognized that storytelling could be an art form," she said. "I learned that from him, and that gave me confidence to perform."


And Cowley journalism instructor Tom Newton, whom the students called "Fig," "taught me what good writing is, and that it can really stoke the fire of feeling. With that combination of writing and storytelling, there's nothing else quite like it. It's the heart of the human experience."


Carol never has forgotten where she came from.


"Our beginnings are what make us who we are," she said. "I have my entire life, from as long as I can remember, been encouraged to write, reach out and achieve. Every teacher and faculty member and administrator at Cowley encouraged me to do that."


After graduating from WSU, Carol came back to Arkansas City to work for Gilliland Publishing. She and Norman, whom she'd met at WSU, were married a year later. Norman was a photographer/reporter for KAKE-TV in Wichita.


Carol's journalism career began with Penny Power. She later worked for a brand-new weekly started by KAKE called The Wichita Sun. It folded after two years, and it was time for Carol to become a mother.


"I had four children in six years," Carol said of Kyle, Katrina, Kayla, and Koy. "I always wanted to grow up and be a stay-at-home mother, and I got to do it. I was one of the fortunate few who got to do that."


In 1977, Norman took a job with the ABC affiliate in Denver, and the family moved to Loveland. About 15 years ago, Carol started looking into the future, realizing that her four children would leave the nest at about the same rate they entered: quickly.


"I started free-lance writing," she said. "I'd done journalism-type work all those years. Public relations work for the church, newsletters for the school. So I decided to toy around with submitting my work."


She wrote children's stories for magazines, an occasional item for the local newspaper, and entered poetry contests.


"When I got a rejection, I assumed they didn't know what a hot commodity they had in their hands," Carol said with a laugh. "So, I'd send the story to someone else. I got published because I was so persistent."


Today, Carol has more than enough work to keep her busy. As if she needed more to do, she recently signed a contract to write advertorials for a major pharmaceutical company.


"That's exciting," she said. "I've done that one other time. It stretches me in a different direction. I'm thrilled to keep doing more of what I'm doing. My passion is still working with the elder care and doing the stories. I glean so much of my writing materials from programs and vintage people. It's a phenomenal experience to spend that much time with them.


"People have to remember that they have so much to offer. That's probably the most immediate and exciting thing I'm working on."


But, there's more.


"Norman and I are partnering on a book," Carol said. "We're getting closer. We're looking for a publisher. He's (Norman) a master photographer. I have 13 years of journaling, quotes and vignettes and stories from my experiences with the elderly. We think it's going to work into a powerful book. And it's fun to work together."


And still another project Carol is working on is writing her own book. It's a memoir with the working title "From the Ground Up." The book is half finished and already has won two writing awards.


"I've published about 11 excerpts from it," she said. "I just need to finish it and try to get it published. I have high hopes."


Carol won the Paul Gillette Writing Competition for the Pike's Peak Writing Conference, and captured the prestigious Top Hand Award from the Colorado Authors League for the first chapter of the book.


The book is an inspirational story about how Carol dealt with the tragic accident that left her oldest son Kyle critically injured. Kyle, who was in Los Angeles on missionary work, was hit by a drunk driver in LA four years ago. He was on life support and had to learn how to walk again for the second time as an adult (he was badly burned in an electrical accident when he was in high school). Kyle survived and now runs his own business. The book covers the first three months of the accident.


"I filled three journals" when the accident happened, Carol said. "That's very unlike me. But I had learned from his first accident. There's nothing like trauma to throw details out of your mind."


She said her life was "braided together" through the combination of research, writing, and speaking.


"My goal is to remain as healthy and happy and involved as I am now," Carol said. "I hope to get to do more of what I'm doing. I have such a passion for what I'm doing. Stories span life and connect generations. They are the thread of our social fabric. To have this opportunity to use story in writing, speaking, publishing and to know that it can help change lives makes an impact on my own life."