Allen ‘55 and Maxine (Czapiewski) Johnson, ‘56 (Winona) recently received a joint award for community leadership in Vermillion, South Dakota. Both Johnsons retired from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where Allen served as professor and Chairman for the Department of Biology, and Maxine as secretary in the Department of Nursing. Maxine previously received the Mayor’s Award for Community Service, was named the United Way Volunteer of the Year, and received local and state awards from the Epsilon Sigma Alpha sorority for distinguished service. She recently completed an AARP mayoral appointment as the Chief Service Officer for Vermillion, and served as a delegate to the Points of Life Conferences.
Connie Brownen-Wesala ’72 (Gilbert, Ariz.) is a retired educator. Her debut novel, The House on 4th Street, is available on Kindle, Nook, and in paperback on Amazon.
Lee Paul Newman ‘72 (Winona, Minn.) was named Volunteer of the Month. Lee has participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for 35 years. He is also involved with “Take a Kid Fishing Day,” as well as various committees and organizations. He was a WSU Alumni committee member for eight years and donates time to area functions.
Don Anderson ’74 (Winona) was employed as the Senior Industrial Engineer for Peerless Chain from 1978 to 2002, then worked as a Regional Logistics Manager for Mayo Clinic Medical Lab Division until his retirement in 2010.
Steven McCown ‘74 (Northfield, Minn.) taught English at San Pasqual High School in Winterhaven, Calif., for 28 years, where he was named Teacher of the Year in 2002. Steve also taught English part-time at Arizona Western College (AWC) in Yuma, Ariz., for ten years. While at AWC, he won several literary awards including the 2009 Poetry Contest, and first place in the 2015 Short Story Contest. He was also the featured poet in the 2013 AWC ‘Colorado Crossing’ literary magazine.
Craig Anderson ‘75 (Pine Island, Minn.) was presented the Play Ball! Minnesota Terry Ryan Award for being a Friend of the Game. Play Ball! (Minnesota’s highest baseball honor) is named after longtime Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan. Craig has been coaching baseball at Pine Island High School for 40 years. He also directs summer baseball. He has twice served as president of the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association and has been a member of the advisory board since 1994.
Paul Sir ’77 (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) played basketball at WSU for Coach Les Wothke, Winning the Outstanding Warrior Award three times for outstanding leadership and citizenship contributions. Paul is a member of the WSU Hall of Fame, and was recently inducted into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame. He played professionally in Belgium for one season. After coaching at the high school, college, and pro levels, he is currently the Executive Director of Basketball Alberta. He created and hosts a weekly basketball show on the local ESPN affiliate. He and his wife, Sandra, have four sons, one who was a national 3-point NCAA leader. “I owe a great deal to Winona State and the Winona community,” said Paul.
Cary Heyer ‘86 (Madison, Wis.) serves as Director of Communications and Strategic Marketing for Madison College. He
was named the Madison’s chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s Communicator of the Year. The award is given to an individual who has exemplified superb consensus-building and two-way conversation skills, issues communications skills and participation in debates or other dialogue important to any south-central Wisconsin issue, crisis, cause, or event.
Mary Cappel ‘87 (Winona, Minn.) was named 2015-2016 Winona Education Association Teacher of the Year. Mary began her teaching career at Galesville-Ettrick- Trempealeau Junior High School, teaching girls’ physical education and co-ed health. She coached junior high volleyball and cheerleading, was the high school assistant gymnastics coach, and was a member of the district staff development committee. Mary joined the teaching staff in the Winona Area Public Schools in 1986, and currently is a physical education teacher at Jefferson Elementary STEM School. She was named the Region 1 Gymnastics Coach of the Year and was named the Minnesota Elementary Physical Educator Teacher of the Year in 2010.
Michael Veldman ’89 (Austin, Minn.) a sixth-grade social studies teacher at IJ Holton School in Austin, was recognized for his contribution to the field of music by the Austin Public Schools Music Hall of Fame.
Scott Mertes ‘94 (Midland, Mich.) was recently promoted to Dean of Liberal Arts at Mid Michigan Community College. Scott is the Secretary of the Winona State Alumni Society Board of Directors.
Cory Whalen ‘94 (St. Paul, Minn.) was inducted into the Minnesota Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). ABOTA is a national organization comprising those attorneys who have achieved the most elite status among trial attorneys. Cory is a partner of SiebenCarey law firm and has been licensed to practice law in Minnesota since 1998.
Pam Kessler ’95 (Minneapolis, Minn.) worked at a number of corporations in varying capacities, including UnitedHealth, Fingerhut, US Bank, 3M, Best Buy, and IBM. Pam has now set her hand to writing, under the pen name Kane Lesser. Her non-fiction piece, “I Never Knew All Too Well,” was featured in Pulchritude Press’ Labor Day site launch, and “I Am Batwoman” won Pulchritude Press’ Inaugural Featured Writer Contest. Pam’s first novel, The Angel’s Lounge, won the “12 Days of Authors” Event awarded by Sinfully Hot Book Promotions. Pam’s second novel, The Angel’s Revenge, will be published in 2016. Her online blog, www.kanelesser.com, has reached and humored readers worldwide.
Danielle (Cowan) Ottman ’94 (Rosemount, Minn.) works for SMG as Sales Manager at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, new home of the Minnesota Vikings. She books events for the facility, which will host Super Bowl LII in 2018 and the NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2019.
Angela Peckman ’98 (Burnsville, Minn.) is a manager for Project Management Center of Excellence, a large IT contracting and consulting firm at Analysts International’s headquarters in Edina, Minn.
Ibrahim Ahmed ‘99 (Bangladesh) is a pioneer in Bangla rock metal music. Ibrahim is a member of the bands Warfaze and Authohin. (Between studies at WSU, he made frequent visits home to produce albums and perform at sold-out concerts.) Each band has released numerous albums and maintains a concert tour schedule. For the past 16 years, Ibrahim has provided lessons to budding guitarists of his country. In 2010, Warfaze received the Citycell Channel I band music award. In 2014, the Top Ten website rated Warfaze as one of the top ten hard rock bands in the world.
Rhiannon (Verburgt) Blawat ‘00 (New Berlin, Wis.) was promoted to Associate Principal at Kahler Slater, an award- winning architecture and experience design firm based in Milwaukee, Madison, and Singapore.
Rhiannon is Kahler Slater’s controller and responsible for the firm’s cash management. She leads the firm’s Finance Team and oversees projects that support the firm’s strategic plan.
Carolyn (Bisek) Reuter ‘00 (Black Creek, Wis.) is the Principal at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School, McDonald Street Campus, Appleton, Wis.
Luke Merchlewitz ‘01 (Winona) is a second-grade teacher at Washington- Kosciusko Elementary School in Winona. Luke will present a workshop at the global student conference this summer at the Education First Global Student Leaders Summit in Davos, Switzerland. The workshop will focus on how to teach global competency in schools.
Benjamin Weaver ‘01 (Albany, New York) serves as Assistant Vice-Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the State University of New York, Albany. Prior to his present appointment, Ben served as a research assistant at the State University of New York System Administration’s Office of Institutional Research and Analysis and held research and program/grant management positions at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.
Stefanie (Steimann) Schussler ‘02 and Jeremy Schussler ‘02 (Prior Lake, Minn.) welcomed their third son, Christian Cole Schussler, born Christmas day 2015.
Bruce Carpenter ‘03 (Chadron, Neb.) who started as WSU quarterback for four years and led Winona to the playoffs twice as well as two bowl appearances, is now an assistant coach for the Chadron State College football program. Bruce most recently coached the offensive line and served as the offensive coordinator at the University of Montana Western, an NAIA institution located in Dillon, Neb.
Rebecca (Skozek) Swenson ‘03 and Michael Swenson ‘01 (Winona, Minn.) welcomed a son, Jonathan Swenson.
Brad Krasaway ‘04 (International Falls, Minn.) was awarded the 2015 Andrea Ruesch Outstanding Alumnus Award by the Minnesota State University Student Association (MSUSA). During his time as a student, Brad served as the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) President and later the MSUSA State Chair. He currently serves as the Director of Student Life and Academic Advising at Rainy River Community College, and is the chief diversity officer and student senate advisor.
Angela (Chase) Budensiek ’05 (Pine Island, Minn.) and husband Aaron Budensiek ’05 have two sons, Carter, age 9, and Chayse, age 6. Angela is the Director of Marketing at Shorewood Senior Campus in Rochester, Minn., and was named Rochester’s Business Woman of the Year by the Rochester Woman Magazine.
Travis Whipple ‘08 (North Little Rock, Ark.) is the Assistant Athletic Director for External Operations, Director of Athletics at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Travis most recently served as the Director of Advancement and Athletics for Cotter Schools, Winona. Prior, he was the Associate Athletic Director at the University of Illinois, Springfield from 2013 to 2014; was the Assistant Commissioner for Marketing and Broadcasting of the Lone Star Conference in Richardson, Texas, from 2011-2012; and was the Assistant Athletic Director for External Operations of WSU from 2008 to 2011.
Holly (Sutton) Barton ‘09 (Winona) is the Healthy Living director at the Winona YMCA. She taught health and physical education for four years at Rogers (Minn.) High School.
Jessica Devine ‘09 (Morris, Minn.) is the head track and field coach at the University of Minnesota, Morris.
Jeremy Nauman ‘09 (Truman, Minn.) joined the firm Moss & Barnett, Minneapolis, Minn. Jeremy works with the firm’s real estate team focusing his practice in the firm’s national multifamily agency lending practice group.
Emma (Schmitz) Zuehlke ’10 (Green Bay, Wis.) married Chad Zuehlke May 30, 2015. Emma teaches middle school special education and recently completed her Master’s in Educational Administration.
Rachel Schromen ‘10 (St. Paul, Minn.) began a solo law practice, Schromen Law, LLC, in the areas of Estate Planning and Elder Law. Rachel co-founded the Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center, PSC, a nonprofit that works with Women’s Advocates (a domestic violence shelter in St. Paul) to provide free legal advocacy to victims and survivors who are clients.
Adam Holen ‘11 (Aurora, Colo.) runs a clinic with a partner from graduate school and is owner of Novo Soft Tissue LLC, Denver, Colo. Adam graduated with a Doctorate in Chiropractic from Palmer College in Davenport, Iowa, in February 2015. He specializes in biomechanics and soft tissue work as an Integrative Diagnosis provider. In addition, he is a practicing ACSM certified personal trainer at Fitness Together in Washington Park, Denver.
Lucas Wolf ‘11 (Baldwin, Wis.) Lucas has accepted a position with the chiropractic practices of Dr. Lance Albrightson in Woodville, and Dr. Lisa Kinter in Glenwood City.
Abby Halberg ’12 (Eau Claire, Wis.), a WSU nursing graduate, joined the Peace Corps and will work in the Dominican Republic. Following training, Abby will be a community health volunteer, living and working at the community level to promote healthy decisions and work with community groups and individuals on HIV/ AIDS prevention, improving nutrition, and healthy reproductive habits.
Amy Gadient ’13 (Winona) married Mark Evjen in June 2015. She is a registered nurse at Gundersen Health System, La Crosse, Wis. Mark is currently working on his elementary education degree at WSU, where the couple met. During the winter, Mark is a wrestling coach for Lewiston- Altura-Rushford-Peterson.
Jose Dominguez ’15 (Worthington, Minn.), who graduated with a double major in Graphic Design and Studio Art, had a solo exhibition
at the Rochester Art Center. Jose’s Ilumíname (Enlighten Me) was part of the Center’s RAC2: Local Artist Exhibition Series.
Pedro Lander ’15 (Winona, Minn.) performed a section from his capstone “Maricón (Faggot)” at the 43rd Annual Choreographer’s Evening at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minn. Pedro has performed at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, at an informal showing hosted by HIJACK, and at the Weitz Center for Creativity as a member of TimeTrack Productions. He is currently apprenticing with the Eclectic Edge Ensemble. Pedro works for an equity and educational non-profit, College Possible, as an AmeriCorps volunteer, advising and coaching underprivileged students at Augsburg College.
Ashley Walker ‘15 (Shakopee, Minn.) is the head softball coach at New Prague High School. Ashley, a 2011 Shakopee graduate, was a two-time All-State pitcher in high school and was named Shakopee High School’s 2011 Female Athlete of the Year. While at WSU, Ashley was a four-year member of the WSU softball team, was named All-Conference, All-Region, and was the National Division II Pitcher of the Week, and was named the 2015 Winona State University Female Athlete of the Year. Walker is currently student-teaching at Eagan High School.
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