Captain Zenneth A. Pond Emerging Alumni Award

“He Likes his Fellow Man”

Jackson Junior College alumni Zenneth Arthur Pond dreamed of flying. As a child of the Great Depression, that wish seemed out of reach, but JJC’s Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) helped make those dreams come true.  Pond was a popular student who made life-long friends at JJC, including fellow CPTP peers, Elwood Bailey and William J. Maher. The JJC yearbook defines one part of Pond’s character by placing this quote by his photo:  “He likes his fellow man.”  For two years at JJC, Pond excelled in his studies and was active in sports—always with his eyes on the sky.  Zenneth worked hard to be a pilot.  Under the tutelage of the CPTP’s director, Frank Dove, Pond became the first student to receive his pilot’s license.

In June of 1941, Pond enlisted in the Marines, and seven months later found a permanent home as a “Bulldog” of Squadron VMF-223. On Aug. 24, 1942, the Bulldogs became the first squadron to base out of Guadalcanal. Over the next 12 days, Zenneth Pond brought down a total of six enemy fighters, thus achieving the status of “fighter ACE.” LIFE Magazine highlighted the courage of  “the fighting 223,” making particular mention of Zenneth Pond.  On Sept. 10, 1942, after just 17 days on the island, Pond took off in an F4F-4 to repel yet another Japanese air raid. He and three other pilots opposed 46 enemy planes; his aircraft disappeared during the dogfight, and Lt. Pond was never seen again. Pond was granted a posthumous promotion to Captain and was awarded the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession.”

What is a hero? Jackson Junior College alumni, Dr. Douglas Benn ’55, answers this question when asked about his uncle, Captain Zenneth Arthur Pond:  “You lead a life of outstanding example; you’re honest; you take on new adventures, striving to learn more. You exhibit goodwill. You have good humor. You must like people and ultimately have a desire to make things better. Uncle Zenny dedicated his short life to serving others. He was my hero.”

A lasting tribute

Jackson College has created the Captain Zenneth A. Pond Emerging Alumni Award in honor of this extraordinary, young Jackson (Junior) College alumni.  The award recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals who have distinguished themselves through professional accomplishments and who have demonstrated the qualities of integrity and character early in their careers.


Recipient Selection Criteria:

  • Must be an alumnus of/or have attended Jackson College aged 35 or under.

  • Attained exceptional accomplishments in business or professional and their personal life.

  • Demonstrated continuing outstanding voluntary service on a local, state, national or international level. (Include clubs, service organizations, and community involvement.)

  • Special honors or recognition (in professional or volunteer service.)

  • Must exhibit strong leadership qualities; honesty, goodwill, and lead a life of example.

Selection Procedures:

  • Individuals and constituent associations may make recommendations for nominees.
  • One letter of recommendation is required.
  • All nominations must be submitted via email or by mailing the application online form and supporting documents to the Jackson College Alumni Office. Contact the Director of Alumni Relations at 517.990.1386 with any questions.
  • Nomination forms may be submitted by Dec. 10, 2021 to the Jackson College Alumni Office to be considered for the 2021 recognition.
  • The Awards Committee will screen the nominees and recommend finalists to the Jackson College Alumni Advisory Committee.
  • The Jackson College Alumni Advisory Committee will select the recipient(s) to recommend to the Jackson College Foundation Board of Directors, in which time the finalist will be selected and presented to the Board of Trustees for ratification.
  • Forms submitted with an anonymous nominee will not be accepted and will not be considered in the selection process.

Nomination Form

Emerging Alumni Nomination Form

Please return the nomination form and supporting documents by Jan. 4, 2022 to the Jackson College Foundation:

Jackson College Alumni Office
2111 Emmons Road
Jackson, MI 49201


Supporting documents

  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Letter of recommendation

Please make certain all titles are accurate. Information submitted will be used to prepare news releases and other promotional materials.

  • Nominees will not be contacted for additional information
  • Nominations will be kept on file and eligible for three years, if not chosen the first year.

2022

Dr. Brianne E. Mezo

Class of 2005

A Jackson native, Brianne graduated with honors with Western High School and earned her Associate of Applied Science from Jackson Community College in 2004-05, with the goal of becoming a meteorologist. After continuing her studies at Central Michigan University, she sought a career with more personable contact. 

She earned her associate degree in dental hygiene from Kellogg Community College, where she served as vice president and president of the dental hygiene class. In 2010 she earned her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from the University of Michigan and worked full-time as a dental hygienist. 

She opened her own practice, Northwest Dental Excellence, from scratch in September 2018 and has immersed herself as a supporter of the Jackson community since. She served as clinical dentist with JC’s dental hygiene program for a year. 

Her passion to provide comprehensive dentistry and help her patients discover the root problems to their oral health concerns is undeniable. She prides herself in developing her team, patients and self through positive experiences and treating others as if they were her family.  


2021

Kyle Leighton

Kyle Leighton is an accredited investor, business executive and entrepreneur with over a decade of collective experience. He is the founder of First Building Solutions, Leighton Property Management, and Tapestry Girls and features an extensive background involving global distribution, international relations, sales, and marketing management. Native to Jackson, Michigan, Kyle holds an Associate Degree of Arts from Jackson College, and a bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication from Siena Heights University. To date, Kyle’s successes have earned him the 30 Under 35 Award from tED Magazine in 2013, the Recent Graduate Award from Siena Heights University in 2014, and the Captain Zenneth A. Pond Soaring Young Alumni Award in 2021.  


2020

Courtney McIntosh

Class of 2011

Now the nursing administrator for Henry Ford Jackson Hospital, Courtney McIntosh’s career has progressed rapidly. The Jets basketball alumna continues to play on recreation leagues and volunteers with Michigan Center High School basketball. Educating about the dangers of distracted driving, she presents at local schools with the Think First trauma program. 


2019

Dr. Jonathan Curtis

Class of 2010

Curtis has demonstrated those qualities admirably in his young career. He operates his own practice in Chelsea, Curtis Chiropractic, managing everything from patient care to day-to-day operations. He loves what he does because he loves to help people. 

Caring for his community, Curtis serves on the Board of Directors of the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce an ambassador for the Chelsea Chamber and previous ambassador of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. 

“When I learned that I had been recognized with the Zenneth Pond Soaring Young Alumni Award, I was humbly honored,” Curtis said. “I personally know so many great young Jackson College alumni and with this honor, I hope to inspire and continue to be a positive role model in our community.”