A group of alumni speaking on stage

Biola University recognized five alumni during a special awards chapel Feb. 18 for their outstanding contributions to society. At the chapel, titled “2011 Alumni Awards: Living the Legacy,” four awards were presented in the following categories: lifetime achievement, young alumni, cultural impact and missions.

Larry Acosta (’83, M.Div. ’88) received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in urban communities. After graduating, Acosta noticed a large quantity of urban communities had few quality mentors to help keep youth off the streets, and he desired to help. He went on to launch a series of significant ministries, where he continues to serve as president: the Urban Youth Workers Institute, the Hispanic Ministry Center  and KidWorks. Through the Urban Youth Workers Institute, over 22,000 urban leaders across the U.S. have been trained to disciple and serve youth in cities. Acosta also pastored Grace Church in Los Alamitos, Calif., for 12 years.

The recipient of the Young Alumni award was Matt Anderson (’04), who blogs at Mere Orthodoxy and is the author of Earthen Vessels: Breathing New Life into a Broken Faith, an upcoming book from Bethany House. A public speaker who has been quoted by Fox News and the Associated Press, Anderson also contributed to The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ. He also chairs the local Biola alumni chapter in St. Louis, Mo., where he lives with his wife, Charity (’04).

Norma Blackwater (’79) was presented with the Cultural Impact award. Blackwater is of Native American descent from the Navajo Tribe of the Many Goats. She taught biology and life science in Long Beach, Calif., before deciding to attend medical school. After graduation, Blackwater worked as a general pediatrician for the Community Health Foundation of East Los Angeles. Through her position, she served Native American and Mexican American communities. Currently, she is the medical director for the United American Indian Involvement in Los Angeles.

The Clyde Cook Missions award was given to George (’82, M.A. ’93) and Wendy (Weber, ’81) Payton for their work in the mission field and service with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Africa. The couple served in the mission field for 30 years before moving back to the United States. They currently work at Biola but are still involved in their efforts for Wycliffe. George is an adjunct faculty member for the Cook School of Intercultural Studies, and Wendy is a secretary for Biola’s accounting office. They have four children who have each attended or are currently attending the university.