Alumni & Friends

Outstanding Alumni

The Outstanding Alumnus Award is given each year to a former student of National Park College, Garland County Community College, or Quapaw Technical Institute in recognition of their personal life and career success. The award recipient will be honored by NPC and also at the Arkansas Association of Two-year Colleges annual conference.


Brittany Esquibel, 2015 Outstanding Alumna

Brittany EsquebelBrittany Esquibel has always set the bar high for herself. While attending National Park College, she was on the Dean’s List, President’s List, Phi Theta Kappa member, and president of the Student Radiology Association. Esquibel worked three jobs, maintained a near 4.0 GPA, and graduated valedictorian of her radiologic class. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Diagnostic Medical Sonography with specialties in abdomen and obstetrics and gynecology from UA Fort Smith.

Esquibel worked for Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith and National Park Medical Center before hiring on at CHI St. Vincent. While a full-time employee at CHI St. Vincent, Esquibel opened Picture Perfect Imaging, an ultrasound imaging studio designed to give expecting parents an opportunity to reveal baby's gender in a "lively, fun and welcoming enbironment where the whole family and friends can attend." Esquibel says National Park College allowed her to grow as a person and prepared her for career success.


Mike Dugan, 2014 Outstanding Alumnus

Mike DuganMike Dugan's relationship with National Park College began in 1974; just one year after the College was formed. He was the head tennis professional at Hot Springs Country Club while also teaching tennis each week at GCCC.

Dugan started a tennis program for the College in which he was the coach and also a player. In 1978, Don Harris, Dean of Community Affairs, and Ronnie Garner, Dean of Students, moved a mobile home onto the new campus (approximately where the LAB Science Building is now) for Dugan to live in. Dugan said, "While I was living on campus, I taught classes, coached the team and locked up the campus each night. I also mowed the grass during the warm months and polished floors in the evenings."

Dugan continued living and working on the GCCC campus while earning a bachelors in Business Administration from Henderson State University. After graduation, Dugan worked in the HSU athletic department for ten years. Dugan has received the "H" Award from HSU Alumni Association and the Kathy Muse Award for Meritorious Service to the University and to Reddie Athletics.

Dugan serves on numerous civic boards including 17 years with Hot Springs Chamber Of Commerce. Dugan is currently Vice President and General Manager at Merritt Wholesale Distributors, Inc.


Otto Thorwarth, 2013 Outstanding Alumnus

Otto ThorwarthOtto Thorwarth experienced a very illustrious 12-year career as a professional horse jockey capturing 1,500 wins and a number of riding titles. However, after six concussions, several broken bones, and a decade of bulimia, Thorwarth left racing to re-invent his life. Enrolling at National Park College, Thorwarth earned his Certificate of Proficiency as an Emergency Medical Technician in 2004.

Thorwarth worked for a short time as an EMT before God redirected his path back to racing. While riding at a track in Cincinnati, Thorwarth was asked to audition for a movie. Selected from over 1,000 professional jockeys nationwide, Thorwarth was cast as Ronnie Turcotte in the Walt Disney Pictures film Secretariat. "Otto became one of the most delightful finds of this whole film. He was fearless. And beyond that, there was a joy about that fearlessness," said director Randall Wallace.

 Thorwarth is now retired from professional racing and is working on a new movie.Cowboys and Jesus which is being filmed in Hot Springs is a modern take on the Biblical story of the prodigal son. Thorwarth credits God for his life's success and shares his story at Churches and conferences. Thorwarth's complete biography can be seen on his website, ottothorwarth.com 


Laryssa Blunt, 2012 Outstanding Alumna

Laryssa BluntSometimes it's not where you are that is significant but, the distance you've traveled to get there. Laryssa Blunt calls herself a distance traveler. She began her journey at age 16 when she became a single parent. With much encouragement, she began her education as a non-traditional student at Garland County Community College. However, her nursing career was interrupted by her enlistment in the military. After she fulfilled her military obligation, Blunt returned to Quapaw Technical Institute in 1992 to complete her PN certification. She worked for several years before returning to National Park College and earning her RN Degree in 2007.

For nine years, Blunt was an NPC Medical Professions instructor who encouraged her students to reach beyond themselves to achieve their best. She has served as President of the Health Occupations Division of the Arkansas Association for Career and Technical Education and as an advisor to the student association, HOSA. Often referred to as a cheerleader, Blunt's efforts on the NPC campus have been credited with bringing success and growth to the NPC Medical Professions program and to the technology center. Blunt has been honored as the Business and Professional Women's Young Careerist, the Sentinel-Record Peoples' Choice Award as Nurse of the Year, and ACTE Teacher of the Year. She has served on many community boards and has co-sponsored the Blunt/Welch Scholarship that benefits a nursing student. She is currently fulfilling a dream by working as an obstetrics nurse at National Park Medical Center.


If you know an outstanding alumnus, you can nominate them for this prestigious award. Complete the nomination formand submit by March 1st to Jane Yamauchi at jyamauchi@np.edu or mail to the NPC Development Office, 101 College Drive, Hot Springs, AR 71901.

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