Home Bridgewater College recognizes alums for achievements, humanitarian service
Local, Schools

Bridgewater College recognizes alums for achievements, humanitarian service

Kirk Ways accepts his award at Bridgewater College. Photos courtesy of Bridgewater College.

Bridgewater College honored three alumni at the College Awards ceremony on Saturday, April 20, for their professional achievements and humanitarian service.

The 2024 Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented to D. Kirk Ways of Winchester, class of 1973; the 2024 Young Alumna Award was presented to Micaela Weaver of Chambersburg, Penn., class of 2009; and the 2024 West-Whitelow Humanitarian Service Award was presented to Janice Plank Gutshall of Chambersburg, Penn., class of 1983.

Ways graduated magna cum laude from Bridgewater in 1973 with a degree in general science. He continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a master’s and Ph.D. in pharmacology. He launched a nearly 40-year career in medicine and pharmaceutical drug discovery and development.

Ways has combined research and clinical work with leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry. He initially served as Director of the Diabetes Center, Vice Chairman for the Department of Internal Medicine, Endocrinology Section Head and Professor of Medicine at East Carolina School of Medicine. After transitioning into industry, Ways served in high-level positions at Eli Lilly Research Laboratories, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Nuvelution Pharma, BioStratum and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development. He led the drug development processes for Apidra and Invokana, drugs used in the treatment of diabetes, chronic kidney disease and heart disease. He has authored more than 100 papers on diabetes and cancer.

Ways works as an independent pharmaceutical consultant, serving as interim Chief Medical Officer for MBX Biosciences and on the board of directors of Spruce Biosciences and Macie Medical Foundation, a philanthropic organization that supports a women’s clinic in Nigeria.

To BC students contemplating a career in medicine or the pharmaceutical industry, Ways offers the following advice: “Be curious and be bold. If you do those things, you will probably succeed in whatever you pursue.”

Weaver graduated from Bridgewater in 2009 with a degree in biology and athletic training. She continued her education at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and earned a doctor of osteopathic medicine in 2014. She completed a general surgery residency at Flushing Hospital Medical Center in Queens, N.Y. and a one-year fellowship in breast surgical oncology at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I.

Weaver is a board-certified General Surgeon and fellowship-trained breast Surgical Oncologist at Kent and Women & Infants Hospitals. She works with patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, are at high risk of breast cancer or have undergone gender-affirming chest surgery. Weaver specializes in implementing new techniques that help hide surgical scars and combine plastic surgery with traditional breast cancer surgery. She is also Assistant Professor Clinician Educator in the Departments of Surgery and OB-GYN at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, helping train the next generation of surgeons. In 2022, Weaver was recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Outstanding Women Surgeons by the Association of Women Surgeons.

“Surgery is not for the faint of heart,” Weaver said. She added that she chose her field of specialization, in part, because she is able to have longer-term relationships with her patients. “It is an opportunity to be a part of a patient’s life. I really appreciate that.”

Weaver is the granddaughter of the late Winston O. Weaver Sr. ’47, former BC trustee and prior recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Gutshall graduated from Bridgewater in 1983 with a degree in sociology. After time spent raising her two oldest children, Gutshall returned to college to earn her master’s in education from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania and a teaching certificate from Wilson College. Gutshall worked as a teacher and then education director for a school for children with autism in Chambersburg, Penn. and later taught both special education and gifted education.

Gutshall has devoted her life to education and advocacy for youth, particularly youth with special needs. At 12 years old, she began teaching Sunday School and while a student at Bridgewater College, she volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters. During her teaching career, she ran summer programs for children and organized fundraisers for the hearing impaired, unhoused population and local food pantries. In 2009, Gutshall became a foster parent for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, opening her home to children in need, including some with significant special needs. Three foster children became permanent members of her family through adoption; Gutshall says countless other children call her “Mom.”

Gutshall retired from teaching in 2014 but has been busier than ever with her service work. She cared for her late wife, Faye, until Faye recently died of cancer and continues to support two of her children with special needs. She volunteers at her local senior center and has been painting acrylic and watercolor landscapes that she is planning to sell to benefit an organization that supports the unhoused.

Gutshall says her motto has always been: “Do everything with love,” something she learned from her late mother. “It’s not what you do or say that matters; it’s how you make someone feel.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.