Skip to Main Content

Concordia University Honors Distinguished Alumni

Xa Xiong MD, DC, Named Alumnus of the Year;
Susan Buster, Ed.D., Receives Distinguished Service Award

IRVINE, Calif. (February 21, 2017)Concordia University Irvine (CUI) today announced that Xa Xiong, M.D., D.C., of Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Susan Buster, Ed.D., of Riverside were selected as the recipients of the prestigious Alumnus of the Year Award and Distinguished Service Award, respectively.

The Alumnus of the Year Award is given annually to an individual who is respected as an exceptional contributor and authority in his or her professional discipline and who has demonstrated outstanding qualities of character and leadership. The Distinguished Service Award is presented to an individual based on significant contributions through service to his or her community, church, school and/or alma mater. The Concordia University Irvine Alumni Association bestowed Xiong and Buster with the 2017 alumni awards of distinction at CUI’s Homecoming festivities held on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

“These two extraordinary individuals embody the university's core mission of learning, service and leadership through their ongoing commitment to helping others,” said Concordia Irvine President Kurt Krueger. "We are very proud to confer the 2017 Alumnus of the Year Award to Xa, a respected physician and extraordinary role model for individuals aspiring to achieve their dreams. For the Distinguished Service Award, we are equally proud to honor Susan, an exceptionally gifted educator and advocate for children through her faith-based philanthropic activities."

Xa Xiong, M.D., D.C., of Manitowoc, Wis., class of 1991, is a family physician, community leader, author and motivational speaker who fulfilled the "impossible dream" of becoming a medical doctor after immigrating with his family from Laos by way of Thailand. His dream stemmed from a promise he made to his older brother Pao who fell ill while their family lived in a Thai refugee camp. At a Thai hospital, where no doctor came to see his brother, Xa held his dying brother's trembling hands and vowed to become a medical doctor so he could "heal the hearts of others." After arriving in the United States, Xa fulfilled his promise. He attended Christ College Irvine, now Concordia University Irvine, where he met his future wife Choua Yang and received a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry. He went on to become one of the first Hmong chiropractic physicians in the U.S. and later earned his Doctor of Medicine. Last year, he was named Family Physician of the Year by the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians and continues to inspire others through his foundation, volunteer activities, his work to help bridge cultural differences by educating physicians about the Hmong culture and through his book, "The Impossible Dream: Memoirs of a Refugee Boy."

“Christ College is the foundation of my education,” Xiong said. “I call it the impossible dream. God knew the future and put me in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. [Concordia Irvine] is the foundation of my education, of my leadership, of my finances, of my family and health.”

Susan Buster, Ed.D., of Riverside, class of 1982, is the Director of Professional Development and Digital Learning for the Moreno Valley Unified School District. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for Brandman University, and Concordia University Irvine, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. Buster earned her master’s degree in education with an emphasis in elementary mathematics from California State University, Los Angeles. In her work with the Moreno Valley Unified School District, she implements programs to improve the district’s 33,000 students' lives which includes developing comprehensive curriculum plans for increased student achievement, and professional development programs, as well as implementing one-on-one devices (Chromebooks). Her dissertation on applying brain-compatible strategies to teachers’ professional development achieved its goal of accelerating student learning, regardless of background, through targeted development of educators. Active in the community, she supports a church-based hunger program for veterans at March Air Force Base, serves as president of her church—Immanuel Lutheran in Riverside—and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

"I'm very humbled to receive this distinction from Concordia University Irvine," Buster said. "As a former student guided by Concordia Irvine's commitment to learning, service and leadership, I now have the privilege to carry out this mission as I serve my church, workplace, and community.”

About Concordia University Irvine

Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is a non-profit Lutheran Christian four-year liberal arts university that prepares students for their vocations—their calling in life. Concordia offers undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in education, nursing, theology, business, and coaching/athletics administration. CUI’s undergraduate program is distinctive because of its nationally recognized core curriculum, Enduring Questions & Ideas, and its Lutheran heritage that provides a thoughtful and caring Christian community that lives out the theology of "Grace Alone. Faith Alone." Concordia is a U.S. News Top Tier Regional University and has been named by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the fastest growing private nonprofit master's institutions. The university is part of the Concordia University System, the second largest education ministry system in the United States just behind the Catholic Church. The private university enrolls over 4,000 students annually and is in its final year of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Membership process.


Orith Farago
Communications Consultant
(714) 582-2300
[email protected]

Back to top