Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni 2021

Anna (nee Schmidt) Douglas was born at Hanna, Alberta, two weeks after the World War I’s armistice was signed in November, 1918, so she is just shy of 103 years of age.  In good health, she rarely misses a meeting at Prairie Tabernacle Congregation.  Graduating from Prairie Bible Institute in 1940, she later went as a missionary to China with the China Inland Mission. 

On November 4, 1949, she married her sweetheart, Alban Douglas—an alumnus of Briercrest Bible Institute—but since the communists were advancing rapidly, they had to spend part of their honeymoon on the back of a truck heading down the Burma Road toward Panhsien, Kweichow Province, so they’d be at their station when the city was captured.  While in China, Alban did market preaching, tooth pulling, and general evangelism in the villages.  Anna concentrated on the medical side of things, including delivering many babies.  Their China-career, however, was cut short when they were expelled in July, 1951.

Sailing to the Philippines in December, 1954, for their new assignment, they spent ten wonderful years in youth work—co-founding the Youth Gospel Center, an outreach and discipleship ministry to Chinese which continues to this day.  During this time, Alban had his various Bible study notes bound into a book—100 Bible Lessons—which has become a Philippines national bestseller every year since publication and is now translated into 20 languages of the world.

In 1965, while on furlough, Alban failed his medical to return to the Philippines.  That’s when L. E. Maxwell asked him to teach missions at PBI, saying, “It’s better to be a small cog in a big machine than to be a big cog in a small machine.”  So, he taught missions, cultural anthropology, Hebrew History, and Elisha until his retirement at 70.  Sadly, he died unexpectedly in 1996 from an allergic reaction to a drug administered to clear a blood clot.

Alban always said that Anna was the behind-the-scenes key to any success he’s had.  But she’s been a Bible teacher in her own right to many women, both overseas, and in Canada.  

Dr. Paul Virts

After graduating from Prairie High School (1964) then Prairie College (1968), Dr. Virts prepared for a career in teaching and media consulting by earning an undergraduate degree in journalism education (University of Nebraska) and master’s (Wheaton College) and doctorate (University of Iowa) degrees in communication. Currently, he is semi-retired but works part-time as a Senior Consultant for Research for a fundraising consulting firm, DickersonBakker (Raleigh, NC). 

Prior to retiring, he spent nearly 20 years as a Christian broadcasting executive at two ministries (Leading the Way with Michael Youssef in Atlanta, GA and the University of Northwestern-St Paul in MN). Earlier in his career he taught communication courses at Regent University (VA) for 10 years. He also served as the director of research at Christian Broadcasting Network.

One highlight for Dr. Virts was studying at what is now Daystar University (Nairobi, Kenya) where he completed his master’s degree then worked on the missionary staff as a research specialist and executive for a Bible translation and distribution ministry. He later returned to Daystar to teach communication courses.

He and his wife of 51 years, Viola (Krahn) Virts, have three adult children and eight grandchildren.


Viola (Krahn) Virts

Following her childhood dream, after graduating from Prairie College Viola (Krahn) Virts completed her training as a nurse at what is now Mohawk College (Hamilton, ON). She fulfilled her desire to be a medical/surgical nurse after getting married and moving to Nebraska. To fulfill her other major desire to create a home that was a “haven” in a high-pressured world, Viola later shifted to geriatric nursing so she could be home to take care of her children and work around her husband, Paul’s, work schedule. 

Viola completed her nursing career as a hospice nurse for 16 years during which she ministered lovingly to patients who were dying and their families and caregivers. In this latter role, God gave her the incredible ability to engage quickly and deeply with patients during the most vulnerable times in their lives yet let go of them quickly when they passed away. She learned to be a patient while dealing with cancer in 2013. Thankfully, she has fully recovered.

A highlight for Viola while in Kenya, East Africa, was visiting people in remote villages in northeastern Kenya with a public health nurse. Viola also assisted Paul in organizing the African office of a Bible translation and distribution ministry.

Currently, Viola volunteers in the clothing ministry at the urban church she and Paul attend.

Viola is the mother of three adult children and grandmother of eight.

Brooke began her aquatic career at the age of 16 in Golden, BC. Twenty-four years later, she never expected to be working in the same industry and furthering the cause of drowning prevention with international impact. After three years at Trinity Western University where she studied English and Pre-medicine, she realized her heart was to help heal a different type of body – the Church. She transferred to Prairie Bible Institute where she graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology and Exegesis all the while working at the much loved Three Hills Aquatic Centre (THAC). 

For the next nine years after Prairie, she moved to Creston, British Columbia where she built a values-based culture within her staff team that stood out in the aquatics industry and became a platform to share at provincial and national conferences. 

In 2016, she became the Education Director of the Lifesaving Society – British Columbia & Yukon. Her responsibilities included provincial and national work on lifesaving, lifeguarding and first aid portfolios. Additionally, she served as the subject matter expert representing B.C. and Yukon on the Lifesaving Society Canada’s National Program Commission. In her time with the Society, she developed and trained a team of 17 National Trainers who mentor and serve 3000 instructors and trainers in the aquatics and first aid industry. 

In 2017 the World Health Organization declared drowning as the second leading cause of death in children globally. Brooke received a Citation of Merit from the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) for her work with the World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP). Brooke trained and led the volunteer team servicing the 800 delegates from 60 different countries around the world who travelled to Vancouver to share ideas, techniques, technology, and programs to inoculate children against drowning. 

In addition to her work in aquatics, Brooke completed a Masters Certificate in Congregational Vitality from North Park Theological Seminary and The Evangelical Covenant Church. Her heart to see the Church thrive is still very much alive. She continues to provide pulpit support to local churches in the Lower Mainland and believes that remaining in the aquatics industry helps her relate better when standing behind the pulpit.

In June, Brooke completed her season as the Education Director of the British Columbia & Yukon Branch and took on a project manager/chair role for the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) – Commonwealth’s Lifeguard Reciprocity Project. 

In September, Brooke became a permanent resident of Australia and is looking forward to the adventures the Father has for her down under. 

Distinguished Alumni Nomination Criteria

Prairie College wishes to honour and recognize three alumni who personify Prairie’s values and have translated their educational experience into distinguished achievement in Christian ministry or the professional world.

List of awarded Distinguished Alumni

One alumnus (or a married couple) will be recognized in each of the following areas:

  • Lifelong Christian Ministry
  • Integration of Christian Faith and Professional Achievement
  • Early Career Excellence – an individual who is 40 years of age or younger

Nominees Must:

  • Be a graduate of one of Prairie’s schools.
  • Have made a significant contribution to the cause of Christ through Christian ministry or in their chosen career.
  • Bear witness to Christ through a sincere walk with the Lord and exemplary Christian character.
  • Be nominated by their peers.

Nomination Instructions

If you know someone who fits our criteria, please send your nomination to alumni@prairie.edu or mail it to PO Box 4000, Three Hills, AB T0M 2N0, by May 31, 2021 with the following information:

  1. Nominee’s name, address, and phone/email. 
  2. Details as to why they should be considered for this award.
  3. Your name and contact details.

If you are looking to nominate someone for the Centennial Living Stones, please follow the nomination instructions above as well.