Connie McDonald, a Cameron University alumna who has volunteered her time as an advocate for members of the military and their families, will deliver the commencement address to Cameron’s Class of 2017. The annual graduation ceremony is slated for Friday, May 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Cameron Stadium. Following McDonald’s address, CU’s 2017 graduates will receive their diplomas. Approximately 1,000 students will have completed degrees. A fireworks display will cap off the occasion. The public is invited to attend free of charge. No tickets are required.
“As the wife of a career Army soldier, Connie McDonald fully embraced military life, volunteering her time as an advocate for veterans and their dependents,” says Cameron President John McArthur. “Her tireless efforts impacted lives around the world. She is an outstanding representative of Cameron University, and I know that her example of lifelong volunteer service will instill in our 2017 graduates the desire to also serve others.”
McDonald has made a profound difference in the lives of countless soldiers and their families, tirelessly serving veterans, active duty service members and their families through her volunteer work with numerous organizations. While a student at Cameron University, she was married with two children and carried a perfect 4.0 GPA. A member of the history honor society Phi Alpha Theta, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1991.
For more than 30 years, she has volunteered with organizations that support Army family programs and Wounded Warriors. In addition, she has worked with National Military Family Association and was a member of the stand-up staff for Survivor Outreach Services at Fort Hood, Texas. Because of her experience, she represented Army families by testifying before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in 2007. In 2014, she was selected as one of Lawton’s Women of the Year.
The wife of Major General (retired) Mark McDonald, she served as a battery Family Support Group leader when that program started and then became a Family Readiness Group leader at the battalion, brigade level. Cited as a huge supporter of the Army Family Action Plan, she also worked on the Army Community Service staff of family programs at Fort Bragg, N.C.
As a military spouse, McDonald moved 20 times, which provided many opportunities to use her history degree working in local museums as either a volunteer or staff member.
At the same time she was helping families navigate the challenges of Army life, she also managed her own small business, offering facilitation and training services.
When her husband retired from the U.S. Army in August 2016 after a 36-year career, McDonald was also feted. She was awarded her second Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of the Army for extraordinary contributions and leading initiatives that enhance the quality of life not only at several major installations such as Fort Sill, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., but also for subordinate commands at Fort Bragg and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
McDonald and her husband Mark now enjoy retirement in their log cabin in the hills near Monterey, Tenn.
April 7, 2017