The family, which traditionally is recognized during the university’s Family Weekend activities in September, was honored during Homecoming week this year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of Family Weekend activities.
Caleb Liles, a senior biology major with an emphasis in biomedical science, said he nominated his family for the recognition in part to honor his parents for the values they’ve instilled in him and his siblings, values his parents practiced and developed at Northwest. He is the son of Marty Liles and Kristi Rodeman Liles.
The family also includes Jacob, who graduated from Northwest in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and McKenna, a Maryville High School senior who is enrolled at Northwest as a dual credit student.
“I think all of us would say it’s a huge honor since all of us went to college (at Northwest),” he said. “It’s really where we kind of grew up as persons, and it made us into the persons that we are today and set the foundation for that.”
Caleb is active at Northwest as the president of both Sigma Tau Gamma and Order of Omega. He is a member of Blue Key honor society and participates in intramural sports. He also serves as a student ambassador and a peer advisor. He volunteers with Special Olympics bowling, Big Brothers Big Sisters, St. Jude Up ’til Dawn, Adopt-A-Highway, and the Children and Family Center of Nodaway County.
Off-campus, he is a mental health and emergency room technician at Mosaic Medical Center-Maryville, and he has obtained early acceptance to the AT Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Caleb said of his Northwest experience. “I’ve met people that have opened doors for me in the future, getting accepted into medical school. I’m really excited for that. It’s laid the foundation for my future.”
Jacob served as president of Sigma Tau Gamma for two years and was a member of Order of Omega, Pi Mu Epsilon math honor society and the Homecoming Committee, in addition to competing in intramural sports. He also worked as an office assistant in the Greek Life office and as a facilitator for the AgriVision Equipment Group Precision Agriculture Summer Academy.
In addition to being crowned Homecoming king in 2018, he was recognized as Greek Man of the Year and received the Julie Victor Moore Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes a member of the Greek community who exemplifies its values of leadership, scholarship, service and integrity. Off-campus he volunteered with Special Olympics, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Adopt-a-Highway and as a FFA career development contest proctor.
He is now pursuing a master of education degree in educational administration with an emphasis in student affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“I would say Northwest is somewhere I grew, most notably, just socially with the friendships and relationships I’ve been able to make in college – friendships that are lifelong,” Jacob said. “I’ve made a continued effort to keep those relationships going.”
Marty graduated from Northwest with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1991 and met Kristi at the university. She is a 1992 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in pre-professional zoology.
Kristi served on the Millikan Hall Council and was a lab assistant for anatomy and physiology courses. She also was a member of the Beta Beta Beta honor society. Marty was a peer advisor and member of the Mathematics Association of America. Both also participated in intramural sports.
Marty and Kristi said they decided to attend Northwest because the small, rural campus provided a place where they could thrive, and it felt like a home to them. Kristi is a native of Nebraska City, NE, and Marty grew up in Fairfax.
“It helped with my career and, with the relationships that we got, I never dreamed I’d come back to Maryville and be working in Maryville after I got my degree,” said Marty, who is employed as assistant district engineer for the MoDOT’s Northwest District. “It’s an honor.”
The couple met while Marty was a physics lab instructor for one of Kristi’s classes.
“I got the best education and the love of my life,” said Kristi, who is employed part-time at Citizens Bank and Trust as a claims adjudicator.
As a dual credit student, McKenna said she appreciates the opportunity to get an early start on her college degree and earn a Northwest education while she’s completing high school. She is undecided on where she will attend college.
“I’ve grown up a Bearcat and I’m always going to be a Bearcat no matter what,” she said.
The Liles family’s connection to Northwest also extends to Marty’s and Kristi’s nephew, Cody Kreifels, a 2006 alumnus, and his wife, Allison Kahre Kreifels, who earned degrees from Northwest in 2006, 2011 and 2019. Cody and Allison met at Northwest while they were students in the family and consumer sciences department. Both were members of Kappa Omicron Nu honor society and participated in intramural sports.
Allison was active as a member of Sigma Society, the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and Residence Hall Association in addition to working at Horace Mann Laboratory School, a resident assistant in Phillips Hall and a peer advisor. In 2011, she received the Young Alumni Award from the Northwest Alumni Association; she joined its Board of Directors in 2015 and became vice president in 2019.
Today, Cody is a production supervisor at Land O’Lakes Inc., and Allison is a principal in the Mid-Buchanan R-V School District.
Sponsored by Campus Dining and the Northwest Alumni Association, the Family of the Year receives a $750 scholarship award and other gifts.