OPRF adds alumni to Tradition of Excellence rolls
Oak Park River Forest high school alumni (left to right) Jeff Mauro, Diana Elizabeth Jordan and Dr. Linda Brubaker talk before the start of the Tradition of Excellence awards at the school Nov. 30. The three were the 2012 recipients of the award. | Cur
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Updated: January 7, 2013 6:24AM
OAK PARK — In the four years he’s been a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School, senior Steven Piper said this year’s Tradition of Excellence honorees made one of the best groups.
Piper, the school’s student council president, was referring to Dr. Linda Brubaker, actress and motivational speaker Diana Elizabeth Jordan, and chef and TV personality Jeff Mauro – three of the high school’s alums recognized during assemblies Nov. 30 for their post-graduation accomplishments.
“I think these really motivate the students to want to achieve, to do more,” Piper said of the Tradition of Excellence awards, established in 1982.
Brubaker, Jordan and Mauro join past honorees including McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, author Ernest Hemingway and Dan Castellaneta, voice of Homer on “The Simpsons.”
Brubaker, a 1973 OPRFHS graduate, is the dean of Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine. She specializes in obstetrics, gynecology and urology, as well as female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Brubaker continues to live in the Oak Park area with her family and said the community offers plenty of opportunities for all. She encouraged students to ask themselves what they’re inspired by and cultivate their passions.
“What I’ve learned is there’s lots of kinds of smarts,” she said.
Jordan, class of 1981, has appeared in films, plays and TV, and developed a performing arts summer camp for children with disabilities. Born with cerebral palsy, she advocates for people with disabilities and their portrayal in the entertainment world.
Jordan was touched to receive the award on the stage where she said her acting dreams were nurtured by the high school’s performing arts teachers.
She told students she’s experienced her share of fear and disappointment in pursuit of her acting career, but has let them fuel her success.
“What I don’t do is let my fears and setbacks stop me,” she said, receiving a standing ovation after speaking.
Mauro, a 1996 graduate, won the seventh season of food reality TV show “Food Network Star” and now has two shows on the culinary cable channel: “Sandwich King” and “$24 in 24.”
Mauro made students laugh after accepting his award, recalling high school memories like tap dancing in gym, and singing and playing guitar in Spanish class.
He encouraged students to be nice to others and never give up in pursuit of their dreams.
“Whatever you want to do, there’s something at OPRF that lets you … blossom in that category,” Mauro said.