Robert Junghans 69 (Saint Paul, Minn.published his first novel, “Cloud Warriors,” under the pen name Rob Jung in February 2019.  


Bruce Danielson ’72 (Cambridge, Minn.) was inducted into the Cambridge-Isanti Bluejacket Hall of Fame for his 29 years of directing high school musicals and 20 years of co-creating the Faculty Variety Show that has given $100,000 in scholarships to students going into education. The first non-athletic coach to be inducted, Bruce was also a top ten finalist for the 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. He retired in 2014 after 40 years of teaching math, speech and English in New Prague (11 years) and Cambridge (29 years).  

Allen Dittrich ’72 (Champlin, Minn.) was announced as the chief operating officer for Duluth Holdings Inc. (Duluth Trading Company). He previously served as senior vice president of omnichannel customer experience and operations for the company since 2015. Prior to Duluth Trading, Allen held multiple senior executive roles with Allen Edmonds, Retail Associates, Gander Mountain and Dayton Hudson over his 38+ year career.  

Daniel Klinkhammer ’77 (Ham Lake, Minn.), executive director and co-founder of the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services, retired in March after 28 years serving Minnesota youth sports. Over the years, MYAS has been involved in the MYAS Grade State Tournament, Amateur Athletic Union and United States Sports Specialty Association tournaments, its Gopher State brand, the Trusted Coaches program and more. 

Patricia (Coleman) Wood ’78 (Winona, Minn.) retired from Home and Community Options, Inc. after serving as their Finance Director for 40 years.   

William Otis ’79 (New Ulm, Minn.), chief executive officer of Nuvera Communications, Inc., announced his retirement after 40 years with the company. He will continue serving on the company’s Board of Directors.  

Your Legacy, Our Future 

“I’m grateful to WSU for providing me with learning experiences which led to professional success and personal fulfillment. My planned gift is a financial investment in future students – a legacy investment which will pay dividends to our community for generations.” – Jim Brodie ‘69

Learn more about making a bequest to WSU at plannedgiving.winona.eduor by calling 507.457.5087. 



Delayne (Porter) Vogel ’80, ‘95 (Hokah, Minn.) retired in June 2018 as BSN Program Coordinator at Viterbo University after serving for 25 years.  

Ranjit Singh ’82 (Zurich, Switzerland) has amassed 35 years in the financial services industry, holding executive roles at companies such as Allianz in Germany, Swiss Reinsurance in Switzerland, and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC in the UK. He currently serves on the executive board of Swiss private bank EFG Group, and on the non-executive board of Ireland bank AIB PLC. 

Scott Opfer ’84 (Springfield, Mo.) was named to Biz 417’s Biz 100 for the third time in 2018. The list is compiled annually of the most powerful and influential business leaders in southwest Missouri. 

Beth (Helmueller) Ede ’86 (Cochrane, Wis.joined Merchants Bank as senior vice president/chief human resource officer.  




Stephen Davern ’90 (Chicago, Ill.), and the rest of the band Hodgepodge (active in Winona from 1989-1991), hosted a 30-year reunion of the band at Broken World Records in Winona on March 2nd of this year.  

Roberta (Wagner) Kochevar ’90 (Lakeville, Minn.) was named Chief Officer of Child and Family Services for national nonprofit organization Nexus. She previously worked as the Director of Clinical Services and Rehab at North Memorial and Lab Manager at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. She is also an active member of the Women’s Health Leadership Trust, where she was named one of the top 35 emerging leaders in 2015. 

Jamie (Gayheart) Schneider ’94 (River Falls, Wis.) is a chemistry professor at UW-River Falls, where she was the 2018 recipient of the Paul B. and Robert Dykstra Faculty Excellence Award. Jamie’s current scholarship focuses on chemistry education and her research has been awarded multiple grants through the National Science Foundation.  

Julie (Campbell) Wetzel ’94 (Johnsburg, Ill.) was named the director of case management & service excellence at Advocate Condell, where she has worked for the past 18 years.  



Chris Gove ‘95 (Amarillo, Texas) is currently an associate head coach of West Texas A&M’s men’s basketball team, working underneath Head Coach Tom Brown ’92 and alongside Associate Head Coach Quincy Henderson ’07. Over the past three years, they have led the program to appearances in the Sweet 16, Final Four, and Elite 8 respectively. Additionally, they have won both the regular season conference title and post-season conference tournament title for the last two years, first setting and then breaking the school record for wins in a season.  

Theresa (Olson) Pearson ’96 (Trempealeau, Wis.was named a finalist for the Minnesota Teacher of the Year award by Education Minnesota in spring 2019. She was one of nine finalists narrowed down from an initial field of 168 candidates. The honor came after being named the 2018-19 Winona Education Association Teacher of the Year. She currently serves as an English teacher for Winona Senior High School, having been with the district for 21 years.  

Todd Herber ’98 (Hastings, Minn.) was named principal of Park High School. Most recently, Herber served as principal at Red Wing High School. Previously in his career, he taught middle school social studies and served as assistant principal at both Oltman Middle School and Woodbury High School.   

Maria (Guion) Lindblom ’98 (Round Rock, Texas) has been living in Texas for the past two and a half years with her husband and two boys. After graduating from WSU, she received her Master of Science in Risk Control from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2003. She has served time in the United States Navy Reserves and worked in the insurance industry as a risk control consultant for the last 15+ years. She most recently accepted a position with FCCI Insurance Group as a risk control specialist.  

Julie (Rusk) Padilla ’98 (Saint Paul, Minn.was named chief regulatory officer for Twin Metals Minnesota LLC (TMM). Previously, she served as vice president of market development for Renovate America. She has also had roles serving on the St. Paul Planning Commission and the Snelling-Midway Community Advisory Committee, which oversaw the development of the Minnesota United soccer stadium.  

Lyndon Stinson ’98 (Rochester, Minn.) was named the new director of the Freeborn County Probation and Pre-Trial Services Department, having overseen the department since September 2017. He previously worked for Olmsted County Corrections for and as a Minnesota Department of Corrections Drug Court employee in Wabasha County. Additionally, Lyndon bought and managed a Spanish-language school in Nicaragua – where his partner of 19 years is from – during a six-year break from corrections.  



Robert Biesterfeld ’99 (Chanhassen, Minn.was named president and CEO of Eden Prairie-based C.H. Robinson in May 2019. He has spent his 20-year career at Robinson, working in the Robinson Fresh division and North America Surface Transportation unit. He was promoted to chief operating officer in March 2018.  

Stephanie Moss ’99 (Saint Paul, Minn.accepted the position of professional development coordinator at Think Small in St. Paul after teaching Early Childhood for more than 15 years. Think Small is a non-profit that provides services, resources, and advocacy for early childhood education in Minnesota. 



Do you have a new job? Spouse? Child? Award? Achievement? 

Submit a class note – it’s easy! 





Emily Cassellius ’01 (Winona, Minn.) was named the new principal of Goodview Elementary School and the Winona Area Learning Center.  

Melissa (Winter) Hale ’01 (Rochester, Minn.) has been working for Home Federal as the VP of Business Banking for the last 15 years, with her core focus being the residential construction/development industry.  


Luke Merchlewitz ’01 (Winona, Minn.) received the first Harriet Sanford Award for Distinguished Global Learning in February 2019 at the NEA Foundation’s Salute to Excellence in Education Gala in Washington D.C. The award recognizes his work as an alumnus of the NEA Foundation’s global learning fellowships. 


Jim Parry ‘01 (Stewartville, Minn.), teacher of the REACH program at Stewartville Middle and High School, was honored with Education Minnesota’s 2019 Human Rights Award in April 2019. REACH stands for relationships, education, accountability, character and hard work, and the program aims to blend academic support with character lessons. 



Ty Breitlow ‘03 (Chilton, Wis.), was honored in March as Wisconsin’s 2019 Principal of the Year in his role as principal of Chilton High School. He was chosen for the award in part because of his ability to build relationships and the connection he has with the community and the students. Since winning the prestigious honor, Breitlow has also accepted the new position of District Administrator of Randolph Public Schools. 



Christopher Burke ’05 (Dubuque, Iowa) was named the 2019 Iowa Teacher of the Year. An 11-year teaching veteran, he is the first Dubuque teacher to be given the award in its 60-year history. He was previously named Dubuque Community Schools’ Teacher of the Year in 2017.  

Adam ’05 & Katie (Barrett) Goehner ’05 (Minneapolis, Minn.celebrated their daughter, Paige, being named the Food Network’s Kids Baking Champion! Interestingly enough, Adam and Katie’s first date was in the WSU cafeteria! 

Katie (Kosters) Johnson ’05 (Austin, Minn.) was named Courtesy Corporation’s 2018 General Manager of the Year. Johnson has worked for McDonald’s at two locations in Austin. The award recognizes a general manager who consistently exceeds Courtesy Corporation’s standards in the areas of people development, training, marketing, leadership and community involvement. 

Amy McAlister ’05 (Saint Paul, Minn.) joined the orthopedics team at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing as a D.N.P. She will provide outreach services to Cannon Falls and Lake City as well.  

Dana Nelson ’05 (Bloomington, Minn.) has enjoyed an annual get-together with a group of alumni and their families for the last few years. Other attendees included Mike Ogorek ’04Matt Lounds ’06Todd Schank ’04 and Joe Brandl ’06. 

Nicholas Hartlep ’06 (Hudson, Wis.) is currently an associate professor of urban education and the chair of the early childhood and elementary education department at Metropolitan State University. After receiving his undergraduate degree from WSU, he taught abroad in Ecuador prior to returning to Winona State to earn his master’s degree. He went on to receive his Ph.D. from UW-Milwaukee and then worked as an assistant professor at Illinois State University prior to moving to Metro State.  

Jodi (Anderson) Monerson ’06 (Winona, Minn.) and Michelle Monerson welcomed their third son, Leo Charles, on July 26, 2018. Leo joins big brothers Jack and Crosby. 

Jason Branstrom ’07 (Chaska, Minn.) welcomed his second child, Sawyer David Branstrom, on March 3, 2018.   

Sheena (Gifford) Whitesitt ’07 (Winona, Minn.) started SG Danceworkz and Fitness Studio in Winona in 2015. In 2016, she started SG Performance Company, which performs at local nursing homes, assisted living homes, as well as fundraising and other community events. The kids involved are also required to do at least five hours of community service during their year-long involvement in the company. Sheena also travels nationally to teach master classes, set choreography, and judges for the national dance competition “Hype.” 

Theresa (Chicos) Kukar ’08 (Saint Louis Park, Minn.) married Mathew Kukar in Montego Bay, Jamaica on April 25th 2019. Three generations of WSU alumni were in attendance.   

Kristen (Fossell) Lampe ’08 (Appleton, Wis.), Erik and lil’ Konrad welcomed Doriana Kay on March 29, 2019.  

Mike Nielsen ‘08 (Winneconne, Wis.) announced his engagement to Nicole Hurley, with an August 2020 wedding planned in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. 

Amber (Helbling) Schmidt ’08 (Roseville, Minn.and husband Marc welcomed Isaac Henry Schmidt on January 6, 2019. Isaac joins big sister Isabelle.   

Kelly (Strupp) Klawitter ’09 (Marshfield, Wis.) and her husband Matt welcomed their second son, Taysom, in January. He joins his big brother Braxton. 


Annelie Schmittel ’09, ’12 (Alameda, Cali.) was hired by the Philadelphia 76ers as the team’s vice president of player development. Annelie previously served as a member of the player engagement staff for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and as a researcher for the Laboratory for Athlete and Athletics Development Research in Florida.  

Trevor ’09 & Katherine (Klipstine) Thompson ’08 (Appleton, Wis.welcomed daughter Lucy Louise in November 2018. She joins big brothers Henry and Clayton. 



Justin Smith ’10
 (Minneapolis, Minn.) has been appointed assistant vice president and business continuity officer for Wells Fargo Home Lending Capital Markets and Customer Excellence.   

Andrew Jarzynski ’11 (Eau Claire, Wis.) was hired as the head football coach for North High School in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He spent the previous five years as head coach at Augusta High School.  

Stephanie (Kostuck) ’11 & Lance Schiltz ’12 (Winona, Minn.) were married on WSU’s Cal Fremling floating classroom in July 2018.   

Nickolas Cusick ’12 (Saint Paul, Minn.) married Lily (Wellenstein) Cusick ’12 in August 2018. Nick was also named to 2018 Destinations International 30 Under 30 Class, which recognizes the up and coming talent of destination organizations nationwide.  

Bradley Fitzgerald ’12 (Minnetrista, Minn.married Ashley Skaja in June 2019 in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Brad currently works as chief financial officer at Onetrack ID in Chanhassen.  

Kelly Kent ’12 (Santa Ana, Calif.) married Eli Ollila in October 2018 in a private ceremony in San Diego, California.  

Ethan ’12 and Kayleen (Nymeyer) Scheck ’12, ‘15 (Houston, Minn.) welcomed son, Easton, in November 2017. They are both working in the Lewiston-Altura School district; Ethan in high school history and Kayleen in first grade as a long-term substitute.  

Jaron Arbet ’14 (Burlington, Wis.) was awarded a Ph.D. in biostatistics from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in May 2018. His research included a study of “Robust Framework of Estimating Heritabiltiy in Twin Studies and Powerful Association Tests of Genetic Association Studies.” He recently accepted a position with the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, Colorado.   



Alyse (Hutter) Betchner 
’14 (Onalaska, Wis.received River Valley Media Group’s inaugural nurse of the year award as part of their “Nurses: The Heart of Healthcare” series. Currently an oncology and hospice nurse for Gundersen Health System, Alyse was chosen as the winner from more than 120 nominations.  

Jessica (Tupy) Boeser ’14 (Farmington, Minn.married Ryan Boeser in June 2019. She currently works as an RN at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.  

Vanessa (Lee) Troupe ’14 (Mesa, Ariz.) married Steven Troupe in May 2018 in a private ceremony in Cancun, Mexico. Vanessa currently works as an RN 

Holly (Schmidt) Bakken ’15 (Lake Geneva, Wis.) married T.J. Bakken in June 2019. She currently works as an RN at Aurora Health Care in Lake Geneva.  

Aaron Carda ’15 (Ogilvie, Minn.) was sworn in as an Eagle Grove police officer in February 2019. He previously worked as a corrections officer at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility. 

Trevor ‘15 & Katie (Gottstein) Jones ’15 (Nashville, Ten.) were married in August 2018. 

Danielle (Thenell) ’15 & Josh Mongan ’17 (Littleton, Colo.) were married in June 2018. Their wedding party included Maid of Honor Veronica Peterson ’17 and Groomsman Kyle Bauman ’17 

Dylan Ordorff ’15 (Lakeville, Minn.was sworn in as a new Apple Valley police officer in January 2019. He previously worked for the Owatonna Police Department.  

Shalyn Salonek ’15 (Aberdeen, SD) announced her engagement to Luke Malsom, with an October 2019 wedding planned. Shalyn currently works as a goldsmith at Riddle’s Jewelry.  

Mary Vang ’15 (Trempealeau, Wis.joined the Kidney Care Team at Winona Health in June 2019. She joins the team after eight years with Winona Health, most recently as an RN in dialysis. She recently earned her Master of Science in nursing as a family nurse practitioner.  

Melanie Smisek ’16 (Monroe, N.C.) married Addison Gaines in October 2018 in Marshall, Minnesota. Melanie currently works as an RN at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center in Matthews, North Carolina.  

Madeline VanDerHeyden ’16 (Minneapolis, Minn.) was hired as the Human Resources Specialist for the City of Minnetonka. 

Jodi Wieczorek ’16 (Eagan, Minn.) was named the director of the Cancer Care & Infusion Center of Northfield Hospital and Clinics. She is a clinical nurse specialist and advanced practice nurse with expertise in oncology, palliative care, gerontology and pain management for adult and geriatric patients.  

Jordan Mack ’17 (Lakeville, Minn.was sworn in as a new Apple Valley police officer in January 2019. He previously worked as a park ranger for the Dakota County Sherriff’s Office.  

Abby (Finley) Vierkandt ’17 (Irvine, Calif.) married Zach Vierkandt in September 2018. She is currently employed at Houzz. 



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Winona State University Communications Office manages media relations for the university as well as external and internal communications, connecting with local and regional media outlets in Winona, Rochester, La Crosse and the Twin Cities

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