Van Zant presented with Alumni Award

By on November 20, 2012

Susan Binkley Van Zant was recently presented with the Messiah College Department of Human Development and Family Science's first Outstanding Alumni Award.

The Messiah College Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) presented its 2012 Outstanding Alumni Award to Susan Binkley Van Zant, 1974 graduate in home economics.

The award, designed to recognize HDFS alumni for distinguished contributions to the service of individuals and families, was presented to Van Zant at the Pennsylvania Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (PAFCS) Regional Meeting on Oct. 25 in Hershey.

Van Zant admitted that she was surprised to receive the award.

"What I do in my life is not for recognition," she said. "You just do it because your job on earth is to do good for others, that’s it."

Van Zant, a recent retiree, was selected in recognition of her 35-year career as a family and consumer sciences teacher in the Cocalico School District, for her commitment to caring for her sister’s children after her sister was murdered by her husband, and for founding Jan’s Circle of Friends, a group of women who assist children with domestic violence and parental loss.

She is a member of the board of directors on the Foundation, whose mission statement is to provide financial support to non-profit groups, organizations or agencies that offer or want to implement a mental health care program for children of domestic violence or parental loss. Since August, Jan’s Circle of Friends has raised $20,000 just by contacting regular households. For more information, visit

Van Zant’s nominator describes her as "an inspiring model and leader who has dedicated her life to providing women with the opportunity for education in an effort to foster and develop women’s capacity for charitable leadership."

Although she was surprised to earn the recognition, Van Zant considered it to be a tremendous honor.

"It’s very much an honor because Messiah College, in my estimation, is a good Christian institution and they’ve actually helped me become who I am," she said.

The Messiah College Department of Human Development and Family Science offers two undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Family Science and the Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, K through 12 certification. Minors in Children & Youth Services, Gerontology, Human Development & Family Science, Multicultural Families, and Pre-Counseling and Therapy are also available. Graduates of both programs are eligible to become provisionally certified as a family life educator through the National Council on Family Relations.

Messiah College, a private Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, enrolls over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1909, the primary campus is located in Grantham, near the state capital of Harrisburg. A satellite campus affiliated with Temple University is located in Philadelphia. More AWARD, page A10

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