University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Magazine of the UW-River Falls Alumni Association
Alumni Relations Update Your Alumni Record or Submit Classnotes

Winter 2009

Magazine Cover

Alma Matters


Class Notes

Mary Ellen (Pechacek) Drier 1960
retired in 2005 after teaching English, art, drama, reading, and journalism for 28 years in the St. Paul Public Schools. She currently is creating art and substitute teaching. She has been published in Dust and Fire, MFT Action, and When We Were Young. Mary was Artist of the Month for October and November at the Stillwater Art Guild Gallery in Stillwater, Minn.

Robert Rosenbrook 1964
has been honored by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., who named an honorary graduate fellowship in plant breeding at UW-Madison after him. Dr. Rosenbrook made significant contributions in corn breeding as a corn research station manager, research coordinator, regional research director, and senior scientist with Pioneer, retiring in December 2000 after 32 years of service at Mankato and Willmar, Minn., research facilities.

Fred W. Schuster 1964
retired from Wausau Insurance Companies in 2000 and took a fun job as a greens keeper for a country club in Wausau. He also served as a trustee for the Village of Weston and was elected president in January 2008, when the previous president died. The Village of Weston has grown to almost 14,000 in population and is ranked among the top 3 municipalities in the State of Wisconsin.

Lee Jabs 1967
recently retired from teaching biology and human anatomy and physiology at Evansville (Wis.) High School. He also retired as a part-time teacher of human anatomy at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, Wis.

Noel Schraufnagel 1967
retired from Alcorn State University where he was an English professor. His book, “The Baseball Novel: A History and Annotated Bibliography of Adult Fiction,” was published by McFarland and Co. in 2008. Wife Darlene (Dusek) Schraufnagel, 1967, is also a UWRF grad and a native of River Falls.

Bob Afdahl 1969
retired from teaching after 31 years at Elmwood, Wis., in 2000. He spends his time substitute teaching and volunteering with EC Cavaliers Baseball and Special Olympics. He also has worked as a job coach for REACH, Inc., with developmentally disabled adults for three years. In addition to working at MacDonald’s, Club Z Tutoring, and Tender Care Transportation, he is enjoying golf and Milwaukee Brewers games.

John Gast 1969
retired in 2007 after 38 years working for Pepin County in Wisconsin. He was a social worker for 10 years and the director of Pepin County Senior Services for 28 years. He and his wife reside in Eau Claire, Wis.

Michael and Sandra (Burfeind) Livermore 1971,1976; 1973,1975
retired this June from Osseo (Minn.) School District #279. Michael taught English there for 29 years and Sandra was a school counselor in the district for 28 years. Each had worked in three other districts before arriving in Osseo. They are currently residing in Maple Grove, Minn.

Charles P. Stanislaw 1972
is currently the middle/high school counselor for St. Mary’s International School, Tokyo, Japan. He is in his third year at St. Mary’s.

Jim Bylsma 1976
was the first recipient of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s “Positive Influence of Coaching” Award. This award was established to recognize coaches who have been a positive influence in their schools and communities. Bylsma was previously selected to the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005.

Craig Zabel 1977
has received the Graduate Program Chair Leadership Award at Penn State where he serves as head of the Department of Art History.

Douglas Krant 1982
recently moved to Austin, Minn., to accept a new job with Hormel Foods.

Laura Bacon 1984
became managing editor of the Audubon County (Iowa) Newspapers on July 1, 2008. She previously had been a reporter/special sections editor at the Atlantic News Telegraph.

Mary Jo (Jolly) Aschenbrener 1985
is a senior accounting manager for Checkpoint Security in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Evelyn Klein 1986
published a book of poems, “From Here Across the Bridge,” which deal with where Klein has lived.

William Bursaw 1989
has recently been named to the Town of Rib Mountain Park Commission.

Christopher Hindle 1989
received an master of arts in art at UW-Madison in May 2008. He is currently pursuing a master of fine arts in sculpture at UW-Madison.

Diane (Head) Perry 1990
has been working for DaVita as a dialysis social worker for eight years. On April 3, 2008, at the clinical meeting in Dallas, Tex., Diane received the merit award from the Council of Nephrology Social Workers (CNSW). It is an award for showing a high level of commitment and many contributions to CNSW and patients with chronic kidney disease.

Kristin Warner 1992
teaches K-12 Vocal/General/Choral music in Colorado Springs, Col.

Lori (Ferkingstad) Dunn 1994
has recently received her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) designation.

Jennifer (Kloth) Hall 1994
and husband, Ron, live in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Jennifer is a project manager at PSCU Financial Services and Ron is a lead network engineer for GE Healthcare.

Brian T. Fife 1995
has returned to the Midwest as an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Medicine to head a research lab investigating immunological tolerance and autoimmune diseases.

Barbara Lewerer 1995
has accepted an accounting position in the finance department at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul, Minn.

Kelly Jo (Gunderson) Strenski 1995
and her family are living in Wichita Falls, Tex., where Kelly’s husband is a recruiter for US Air Force Reserve at Sheppard AFB. Kelly and her husband have a six-year-old daughter and welcomed a baby boy in October 2007. Kelly works as a junior high school choir director.

Molly (Meyer) Gerrish 1996
is an assistant professor at UW-River Falls in teacher education/early childhood education. She lives in River Falls with husband, Dave, and daughters, two-year-old Quinn and 14-month-old Maggie.

Brett Longdin 1996
is a senior editor for

Jeff Lovell 1996
completed a masters of business administration (MBA) degree from Cardinal Stritch University in August 2008.

Dolf Schmidt 1996
has accepted a position as principal at North Hudson Elementary in Hudson, Wis. He has spent the last twelve years in the school district of Hudson, 11 of those years as a fourth grade teacher and last year as a teacher on assignment doing administrative duties at North Hudson Elementary. He resides in rural Hudson with his wife, Heather, who is a graphic designer for Gartner Studios in Stillwater, Minn.

Cecil D. Mitchell 1997
retired from active duty with the United States Army on July 1, 2008, after completing 30 years of service. He was awarded The Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service while serving with distinction in positions of increasing responsibility, culminating as a Master Consumer Food Safety Officer. He accepted a civil service position as Supervisory Consumer Food Safety Specialist with the Defense Commissary Agency in Fort Lee, Virginia.

Brian J. Kuhl 1999
is a business solutions manager within the Business Solutions Consulting division of CHS Inc. of Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

Carrie (Briggs) Brittain 2000
and her husband have moved back to Iwakuni, Japan, where they will be stationed for three years. Carrie will teach at the elementary school on base or start an in-home preschool.

Carrie Hickman 2000
is currently working as a nurse at a local nursing home.

Kelly Conroy 2000
and her husband, Austin Lundeby, have relocated to Austin, Tex. Kelly received her master of arts in Hispanic literature from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and will be pursuing her Ph.D. in foreign language education at the University of Texas at Austin.

Kyle C. Fredrick 2000
has completed a Ph.D. in the field of geology at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, NY. He and his wife, Christi, and daughter, Paige, live in Pittsburgh, Penn., where Kyle works at California University of Pennsylvania as an assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences.

Corri (Skelton) Anderson 2001
graduated with high honors from WITC-New Richmond with an associate of science degree as an occupational therapy assistant in May 2008. She is a board certified occupational therapy assistant working at Kids Abilities, a pediatric therapy clinic in Shoreview, Minn.

Susan Pederson 2001
and husband, Daren, sons Jack, 8, and Nic, 5, live in Hammond, Wis. Susan is a regional account coordinator for Clinique, with whom she’s been employed for 16 years. She also enjoys landscaping and tending a half-acre garden.

Erin Pyrek 2001
works at the University of Kentucky and was recently promoted to IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program coordinator (supported by the National Science Foundation) in the College of Engineering.

Jessica Starks 2001
recently returned from Army National Guard basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced individual training in Fort Lee, Va., where she was the distinguished honor graduate with a GPA of 99.6 percent out of a possible 100 percent. Jessica led a company of over 250 soldiers as student first sergeant and will begin officer candidate school in April 2009.

Jed Kennedy 2002
moved back to Wisconsin to teach physical education and be the head football coach at Kenosha Bradford High School. He previously taught in Illinois and Florida and has a three-year-old daughter, Makenna.

Mikki (Barber) Lyons 2002
and husband, Tom, have been married for two years. Mikki is pursuing a master’s degree in elementary education, which is a career change from her undergraduate degree in business. She is a fulltime choreographer for a local dance studio and would like to teach young kids in the academic field.

Jennifer Rabitz 2002
recently became the territory marketing coordinator for Alltech, Inc., a natural nutrition company headquartered in Lexington, Ky.

Michael Cain 2003
is currently leading Highbrid ( and playing in various performing venues. He recently received his master of music in jazz studies from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Penn.

Derek Gilde 2003
completed a master of social work from Augsburg College in June. He works as a mental health social worker at Washington County, Minn., for intake case management and pre-petition screening for civil commitment.

Luke Miska 2003
is married to Kristine (Patnode) who teaches middle school physical education in Prior Lake, Minn. Luke and Kristine own a health club called Fitness 19 in Excelsior.

Kathleen Mullvain 2003
received an master of education in teaching and learning from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in May 2007. She teaches in Hudson and has moved to River Crest Elementary School this fall to teach 5th grade.

Sarah (Butler) Peterson 2003
married Matt Peterson on New Year’s Eve, 2005. She left a teaching position at Greenfield Elementary in Baldwin, Wis., to teach and coach volleyball and track in ISD #622 located in Oakdale, Minn., where Sarah and Matt currently reside.

Renee (Anderson) Simonet 2003
is living in Doha, Qatar, teaching computers at the American School of Doha.

Sherri Smith 2003
was awarded a Pasteur Foundation post-doctoral fellowship and is working at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. Her research focuses on parasitology, specifically the parasite, Entamoeba histolytica.

Amanda Soczka 2003
completed her master of science degree in guidance and counseling at UW-Stout. She currently works as a middle school counselor for the New Richmond (Wis.) school district.

Eric J. Ward 2003
received an master of arts in agricultural economics from Washington State University. He works as a location manager for Columbia Grain International, Inc., in Choteau, Mont.

Heather (Ruprecht) Ergen 2004
is currently teaching 5th and 6th grade physical education and 7th and 8th grade family and consumer science at Annandale Middle School in Minnesota. She married husband, Scott, on April 29, 2006. They have one son, Cameron, who was born on June 27, 2007.

Nick Kesler 2004
is a freelancer in the production world, having started a company called Clam Lake Films that handles production services for the Twins, Vikings, Wild and Timberwolves on Fox 9, Fox Sports North, and Sports Final on KARE-11.

James Koch 2004
recently graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo., and has started a residency program to become an emergency medicine physician for the United States Army.

Leslie Shuler 2004
has left CHS to work for the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council as the communications director. Based in St. Paul, the Council is a public policy organization that works on behalf of agribusinesses and producers in Minnesota.

Micheal Foley 2005
left his job as a page designer/copy editor at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., in March 2008 for an opportunity in Seattle, Wash., as a content editor for Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, a global public relations agency based in the Pacific Northwest.

Laura Goldsmith Nikolas 2005
has completed her master’s degree in student affairs administration in higher education from UW-La Crosse. Laura and her husband Sam (also a UWRF alumnus) are moving to Northfield, Minn., where Laura will be working as an area coordinator at St. Olaf College.

Andrew Polski 2005
is the owner of ALP Painting. In 2007, Andy developed and received acclaim by the Master Painters and Decorators Association for his Paint by Numbers home painting system. The program, which is marketed towards adults with special needs, offers a simplistic means of home painting and decorating while maintaining the participant’s independence. He also currently serves as treasurer for his local chapter of Take Back the Night. He now lives with his girlfriend in Princeton, Minn.

Mindy Johnson 2006
recently accepted a new job working at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography as lab manager for a large research lab that searches for naturally occurring pharmaceuticals from marine life.

Laura Haugen 2007
serves on the UWRF campus as a unit marketing specialist.
She recently accepted a position with Sodexo dining.

Melissa Klein 2007
is an agriculture coordinator for Northcentral Technical College. Her position includes marketing agriculture, recruiting students and coordinating programs like the June Dairy Breakfast.

Kelly Olberg 2007
is pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at Argosy University-Twin Cities.

Keighla Schmidt 2007
is currently working for a weekly newspaper in Savage, Minn. Her beat includes the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District which includes ten elementary schools, three middle schools/junior high schools and two high schools; feature stories from the city of Savage; and photography.




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