60 for 60: Bob Braun, Marty Hendin, Susan Sander Honich, Annette House, LaVell Monger and Rick Stream honored as exceptional alumni

by | May 20, 2024

To celebrate its anniversary, UMSL is spotlighting 60 alumni who apply one or more of the university's core values in the world and help to make it a better place.

60 for 60 Alumni graphicThe University of Missouri–St. Louis is proud of the economic and philanthropic reach of its programs and partnerships, but it’s the people UMSL most wants to honor as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. Throughout the year of celebration, UMSL will be spotlighting 60 alumni who apply one or more of the university’s core values in the world and help to make it a better place.

This month’s honorees are Bob Braun, Marty Hendin, Susan Sander Honich, Annette House, LaVell Monger and Rick Stream.

Bob BraunBob Braun, BA 1974

When Bob Braun first arrived at UMSL, he was a reserved suburbanite. But by the time he departed UMSL, he had discovered a sense of confidence that would empower him to become a successful business professional and knowledgeable international traveler.

“That’s truly a transformation in anyone’s book,” Braun says. “I could not have done it without UMSL.”

Braun, who was born in St. Louis and grew up in University City, graduated from University City High School in 1970. Like many kids, he enjoyed sports and hanging out with friends. But he also had a serious side, whether he was following the news, volunteering on political campaigns or being active in his Jewish youth group. By his senior year in high school, Braun knew he wanted to study political science at a four-year university. He also realized he would have to live at home and work to afford it, making UMSL the fit that made the most sense. After his first semester at the university, Braun was succeeding academically, but struggling socially. That is when he discovered the Greek fraternity system, pledging with Sigma Tau Gamma, which he says transformed his university experience.

“That made all the difference,” Braun said. “I became active in UMSL’s student government, the University Senate, and was elected Central Council vice president, serving as a member of the UMSL 10th Anniversary Planning Committee.”

Braun says he had many memorable times while at UMSL, from the university basketball team’s win over Lincoln University in the Midwest Regional Championship to attending campus speaking engagements with famous Americans such as author Alex Haley, consumer advocate and environmentalist Ralph Nader and government official William Ruckelshaus. He also remembers the academic experiences that went beyond the classroom, from political science research for both the Normandy and University City school districts to an internship with the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

After graduating magma cum laude with a degree in political science in 1974, Braun took a civil service job with the Department of the Navy, specializing in government contracts. He has remained in that field ever since, working in both the public and private sectors.

Today, Braun runs his own company, RAB GovCon Consulting, LLC, helping small businesses succeed in the government contracting market. His work has taken him throughout the U.S. and abroad, including a three-year stint in Italy.

As he looks back on a lifetime of accomplishment, he credits the juggling act that defined his UMSL days for giving him a firm foundation to thrive as a professional.

“Between working part-time, going to classes, being active on campus and still having a social life, I had to learn time management,” Braun said. “I was a real-life multitasker before the expression ever became popular.”

Marty HendinMarty Hendin, BA 1970

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. For Marty Hendin, the spirit of enthusiasm was the accelerator of accomplishment in everything he did – from transforming athletics as a student and alum at UMSL to serving as the ambassador of baseball in front office leadership roles with the St. Louis Cardinals.

His impact on UMSL continued long after graduation. Hendin served as president of the UMSL Alumni Association Board of Directors, where he helped promote the benefits of athletics to the future of the university and its long-term promotion. He also served on the executive committee as vice president and chair of the Red and Gold Club and played a significant role in re-introducing homecoming activities, including the Alumni Family Day, the Tip-Off Luncheon and the creation of the UMSL Sports Hall of Fame.

Hendin was a prolific “doer” at UMSL, forming the university’s first spirit club, “The Steamers,” organizing road trips for fans to support the basketball team. He was one of the first sportswriters on the staff of the university’s student newspaper, The Current, where he later served as sports editor.

As a baseball executive, Hendin worked in various marketing, public relations and community relations posts for the St. Louis Cardinals, beginning his career in 1973 and continuing until his passing in 2008. During that time, he became known for the unique collection of Cardinals and baseball memorabilia in his office at Busch Stadium that was dubbed “Trinket City.”

Hendin was known for an innovative focus on capturing the attention of younger baseball fans and is credited with helping spur the popularity of team mascot, Fredbird. But Hendin always downplayed the connection to the founding of the Cardinals’ mascot.

“Everyone wants to credit me with inventing him, and I didn’t,” Hendin once said. “He was sort of put under my wing, so to speak – basically the idea had been broached by many different people, since that was the heyday of the San Diego Chicken.”

Hendin was inducted into the UMSL Sports Hall of Fame in 2003 and the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Susan Sander HonichSusan Sander Honich, BSEd 1970

Honich, a St. Louis native, broke new ground as the first member of her family to graduate from college, setting her sights out of high school on attending UMSL. She studied secondary education, describing a curriculum that challenged her in an academic environment that was down to earth.

“During my time at UMSL, students had to work hard to study in limited library space and tight classroom settings,” she said. “There was no promise of a rainbow at graduation, but most graduates had a belief that they could succeed in life. With no silver spoon offered, not much in scholarship assistance, it was faith that brought many in the past 60 years to become alumni of UMSL.

“UMSL was a new university and an affordable option for the education I sought while working my way through school. UMSL was a perfect fit, providing me with a singular four-year university experience where I could be involved and develop friendships.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1970, Honich began a four-decade career in the insurance industry, beginning as a trainee with Aetna Life & Casualty and continuing as regional manager with Trustmark Life Insurance before landing her current role as vice president of Fringe Benefits, Inc., where she specializes in life and health insurance for employer groups and individuals.

Honich has been a member of the National Association of Health Underwriters for more than 25 years. She has received the Golden Eagle award through the Leading Producers’ Roundtable for the past twelve years. As an alum of UMSL, she is past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011.

Looking back on the path already traveled, Honich says there is nothing she would change about her academic and career experience.

“It has been a fulfilling life, owning my own agency to help companies and individuals with health, life and senior benefits,” Honich said. “I chose the right college and a wonderful career that is so fulfilling I never plan to retire.”

Annette HouseAnnette House, MSW 2003

As a young child growing up in St. Louis, House was enthralled with people and their interactions with each other.

“I enjoyed watching behaviors, listening to the verbalization of thoughts and feelings and watching how this governed actions,” House said.

This early fascination was the spark that grew to a flame as House pursued the study of the mind and human behavior and how to offer support. The result is a nearly four-decade career protecting children, families and the child welfare workforce in Missouri and across the country.

Education was one of the cornerstones of her vocation. After attending St. Louis Public Schools, House earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Oberlin College in Ohio, then continued her education at UMSL, where she received a master’s in social work and a certification in nonprofit business while working for the Missouri Children’s Division as a social worker and manager. As a grad student, House was able to leverage UMSL’s partnerships with the Missouri Children’s Division and other state agencies to broaden her scope in the field of social work and human behavior to include expertise in the systemic organizational approach to social work and its impact on families and communities.

“I was always encouraged throughout my educational experience at UMSL to identify and speak about issues affecting our communities and the importance of collaborations and partnerships,” House said. “I came to further embrace that social work is so much more than working with individuals and communities – it is also about many broader issues that cross multiple systems and institutionalized behaviors and policies.”

Today, House provides consulting services to local social service organizations with an emphasis on systems integration after retiring as the St. Louis regional director from the Children’s Division in the Missouri Department of Social Services. Throughout her life of achievement and impact in the field of child welfare, House is grateful for the foundational moments she experienced at UMSL for preparing her for success.

“I have been fortunate to embody in my work and volunteerism what I acquired through my studies and experiences at UMSL,” she said. “Through countless interactions with professors and fellow students, I have had and continue to have countless collaborations with diverse individuals, faith-based groups and other community organizations and national foundations. Thank you UMSL, and congratulations on 60 years of excellence.”

LaVell MongerLaVell Monger, BA 2016

Monger is a business and community transformer. Monger, who grew up in various neighborhoods of St. Louis, says he had numerous interests growing up, from the arts and sciences to sports and entrepreneurship, and that the time he spent in the Jeff-Vander-Lou community first opened his heart to the world of possibilities.

“Of all the places I lived, this area stood out the most for its unique culture and vibrant atmosphere,” he said. “It was here that I had the chance to immerse myself in the local traditions and truly appreciate everything this great city offers.”

Monger always had a passion for helping others, which would ultimately influence his professional life in community advocacy and photography. After his graduation from Vashon High School, Monger decided UMSL was the best place for him to achieve his professional goals.

“UMSL’s location was attractive to me for several reasons – whether it was the vibrant city life, the diverse community or the career opportunities available in the area – it was a place where I could develop personally and academically,” Monger said. “It was also important knowing that I would learn from experienced faculty and engage with a diverse student body.”

While at UMSL, Monger held various student leadership positions, serving as a member of the Chancellor’s Cultural Diversity Council and a student representative to the African American Chapter of the Alumni Association.

“As a member of the UMSL community, I actively contributed to the spirit of transformation by participating in initiatives focusing on positive change,” he said. “Whether advocating for diversity and inclusion on campus, volunteering for community service projects or leading student organizations, I always tried to make a meaningful impact and leave a lasting legacy.”

After graduating in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Monger earned a master’s degree in higher education administration from Florida Atlantic University.

Today, Monger is co-owner of RTW Photography, one of the fastest growing photography and videography companies in central Florida. He is also fully immersed in various community roles, serving as board chair of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce, a board member of the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce and an executive board member of the Education Foundation of Osceola County. He is also a certified coach with PeerForward, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that transforms the lives of students in low-income communities by connecting them to higher education careers.

“Throughout my journey, I have always embraced opportunities for growth and transformation, and UMSL was critical in refining that commitment,” Monger said. “Whether overcoming academic obstacles, stepping outside my comfort zone to pursue new experiences or engaging in community service, I continuously pushed myself to evolve and develop into the best version of myself.”Rick Stream

Rick Stream, BSBA 1971

Rick Stream was cast into the role of an adult long before reaching the age of adulthood.

Stream, who was born in St. Louis and grew up in Kirkwood, was the second oldest of eight children. He was just 14 years old when his father died. With no family money, insurance or income to draw upon, Stream painted houses to help make ends meet. Then, at age 16, he landed a job as a laboratory technician at St. Joseph Hospital, working nearly full-time while attending St. Louis Community College–Meramec, and later, UMSL, where he earned a BSBA in 1971.

During his last semester, Stream took an astronomy course in the brand-new Stadler Hall planetarium, finding it both interesting and exciting. Little did he know at the time that the experience would influence both his professional and personal life.

“UMSL’s courses were demanding, and the professors were good and helpful,” he said. “The spirit of transformation that is at the heart of the university vision really prepared me for a lifetime of excitement, adventure and success.”

“After college, I was accepted into Naval Officer Candidate School, and one of the required courses was celestial navigation, where we learned to use a sextant just like Columbus did 500 years earlier to shoot the stars to determine our position anywhere in the world,” Stream said. “I went on to be a navigator on my ship, which led to me meeting my wife of 48 years.”

After his honorable discharge in 1975, Stream was the midnight supervisor at Absorbent Cotton Company in Valley Park for a year before joining the United States Defense Department, where he served as a budget and project manager with the Army Aviation and Missile Command.

Stream was elected four times to the Kirkwood Board of Education, serving as president for two years and vice president for three years. In 2006, he was elected to serve in the Missouri House of Representatives, where he rose to budget committee chair in 2013-14. Other legislative committee assignments included legislative research, capital improvements and leases oversight, court automation and issues development.

Throughout his careers in national defense, education and politics, he credits his UMSL experience as one of the early drivers of his success.

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