The Mercer Island School District will present its fifth annual Pathfinder Awards to Robin Bennett and Steve Hawes.
The Pathfinder Award is the district’s highest alumni honor, presented to graduates of Mercer Island High School (MIHS) whose achievements, strength of character, and citizenship inspire and challenge today’s youth to make significant contributions to humankind.
Bennett, Class of 1977
Inspired by her MIHS biology teacher Bill Tougaw, Bennett graduated from Kenyon College and was among the first graduates from the genetic counseling training program at Sarah Lawrence College.
She began her career at the University of Washington Medical Center as its first certified genetic counselor, where she continues to work 35 years later as senior genetic counselor and manager of the Genetic Medicine Clinic. The clinic has grown into one of the leading clinics in the country for adult and cancer genetics services.
Bennett is a leader in developing genetic counseling practice recommendations, including the criterion for a genetic family history that are now the world standard. Her book, “The Practical Guide to the Genetic Family History (2nd edition)” is used to train students around the world (the book is dedicated to Bill Tougaw).
She is a national and international leader in the field of genetic counseling and beyond, having served as president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and on the board of directors of the major national and international societies in human genetics and genetic counseling. She is the first genetic counselor to receive a faculty title in the UW School of Medicine where she now is a clinical professor. She has mentored many students who are interested in genetic counseling. Bennett is the acting director of the new Masters in Genetic Counseling Program being developed in the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Hawes, Class of 1968
Nearly 52 years after he graduated, Steve Hawes’ name remains etched throughout the record book of the MIHS boys basketball program.
The MIHS records include most points in a game (49), most rebounds in a game (40), career rebounds, rebounds in a season and rebounds per game. He averaged 28 points per game and 20 rebounds per game in his senior season, 1967-68, which was also the first year for hall of fame coach Ed Pepple.
Hawes went on to star for four years at the University of Washington, averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds a game over his career and was later inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame and the Pacific-10 Conference Hall of Honor. Hawes was selected in the second round of the 1972 NBA draft, but chose first to play overseas in Italy. He began his NBA career in 1974 with the Houston Rockets, then played one season with Portland and seven with Atlanta before finishing his career with the hometown Seattle SuperSonics in 1983 and 1984. He returned to Italy for one final season before retiring as a player.
Hawes came home again to Seattle, serving as an assistant coach at Seattle Pacific, Seattle University and UW. He started coaching high school basketball while operating Advent Print Resources, which he sold in 2013 after 20 years. He is now in his third stint as the boys basketball coach at The Bush School.
The newest Pathfinders will be honored at the Mercer Island Schools Foundation’s Breakfast of Champions on April 28. Register to attend the breakfast online at mercerislandschoolsfoundation.com.
A permanent Pathfinder Awards wall has been created at Mercer Island High School alongside previously recognized distinguished graduates. Seventeen (17) alumni have now been recognized since the awards began in 2016.
The recipients were selected from dozens of nominations submitted by the community at large and chosen by a selection committee comprised of staff, students, administrators, community members and alumni from the district and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation.