Class Notes

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All towns are in Minnesota unless otherwise noted. Fargo and West Fargo are in North Dakota.

64 Lawrence T. Collins ’64 (political science, economics) retired following a career as a trial lawyer, district court judge (Third Judicial District chief judge; chair Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges; 24 years), and senior judge, Minnesota Court of Appeals (7 years). Collins serves on the Rochester Police Policy Oversight Commission and the Rochester Ethical Practices Board.

Russell W. Miller ’64 (business education) taught business education and classroom driver education and coached wrestling and track in Little Falls until 1999. Over 47 years, Miller taught more than 8,000 high school students driver education, retiring last July. While at MSUM, Miller lettered all four years in tennis.

Judy Cooper ’69 (speech) and her theatre company, The Urban Spectrum, were invited to produce her original jazz music and dance production featuring the works of Langston Hughes at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul. They also received a grant to support her original show on the life of Eartha Kitt that is set to be staged in 2019. After recently returning from LA Fashion Week, Cooper’s design company, Phyllis Designs, was chosen as one of the runway designers in the upcoming Prince Tribute Show.

76 Kevin Kaeding ’76 (social work) retired after 42 years in the telecommunications industry—21 years with AT&T and 21 years with Dakota Carrier Network. 

Merilee (Whisler) Ottoson ’79 (elementary education, special education) and Danny Ottoson ’77 (speech communications), who met at ‘Moorhead State,’ celebrated 40 years of marriage November 18. Merilee is a paraprofessional in the ESL department at Pelican Rapids High School, and Danny has been an evangelist and gospel singer for the past 39 years.

Barbra Westman ’77 (individualized studies, social work) lives in Lincoln, Neb., with her husband of 40 years. She is an independent mental health practitioner and alcohol and drug counselor at Willows Psychotherapy.

81 Sheri Erickson ’81 (accounting), professor of accounting in the MSUM Paseka School of Business, was appointed by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum to serve on the North Dakota State Board of Accountancy. The Board of Accountancy reviews CPA candidate qualifications, registers accountants each year, monitors continuing education and addresses consumer concerns.

Randy Skarphol ’83 (marketing) joined RiverWood Bank as a business banking officer based in Monticello. He has more than three decades of experience supporting businesses in achieving their results. He is a member of the Great River Rotary Club of Sauk Rapids/Sartell and a member of the Community Impact Team of Pathway 4 Youth, an organization that supports youth experiencing homelessness.

91 Tory Jacobson ’91 (criminal justice) was promoted to deputy police chief at the Moorhead Police Department.

Jenny Schuster ’92 (mass communications) was named one of the Top Sales REALTORS for Park Co. Realtors. This award is given to agents who have the highest cumulative sales volume for the month.

 Brad Bachmeier ’93 (art) received an Award of Excellence at College Hills Art Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bachmeier was one of five award recipients. Seventy-five artists from more than 2,000 applicants from all over the nation were chosen to attend the prestigious juried event.

99 Diane L. (Kern) Bellquist ’99 (sociology, criminal justice) was elected president of the Topeka Bar Association (TBA). Bellquist has been a member of the TBA board of directors since 2011, most recently serving as the organization’s president-elect. She was the TBA’s Outstanding Young Lawyer in 2012 and is a past president of its Young Lawyers’ Division. Bellquist works at Joseph, Hollander & Craft and practices primarily in the areas of professional licensure and professional liability defense. She has more than 10 years of experience working for regulatory agencies of the State of Kansas, and has experience with both healthcare and financial licensing and regulatory laws.

Trenton Gerads ’00 (elementary education) is the new director of development at The Village Family Service Center. Gerads works with individuals and community partners to ensure The Village’s programs remain accessible to all in need.

Deric Swenson ’00 (criminal justice) was promoted to captain at the Moorhead Police Department and will assume primary public information officer duties.

01 Brooke Ames ’01 (finance) was promoted to vice president/mortgage loan operations manager at Western State Bank. Her duties include processing secondary market real estate loans for all eight bank locations, working closely with mortgage loan officers and underwriters, and overseeing the mortgage loan processors.

Dave Gross ’02 (business administration) is a financial representative with COUNTRY Financial in the F-M area and earned the status of All-Star for his production results through May 2018. All-Star status honors financial representatives who have met or exceeded their overall production requirements that include home, auto and life insurance production. He was also recognized nationally in July in conjunction with all other COUNTRY financial representatives who earned this award.

Erin (Davis) Gubbels ’02 (mass communications) joined Dawson Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, as an employee health and benefits account manager.

Sarah (Kraft) Larson ’02 (accounting) was promoted to assistant vice president & credit officer at BlackRidgeBANK. Larson manages all aspects of the Fargo region’s commercial loan portfolio administration.

03 Brenda Houglum ’03 (elementary education) joined Northwestern Bank as vice presidetn of retail banking - mortgage loan officer in their Dilworth branch.

Roger L. Erbes ’04 (finance) was named Wahpeton and Moorhead market president for American Federal Bank. Erbes has 14 years of banking, ag and business lending experience. He is set to graduate next summer from the Graduate School of Banking at Colorado. He is a member of the Big Brother/Big Sister Program and The Village Business Institute Bowl for Kids Sake Advisory Board.

Crystal S. Gibbins ’06 (English, creative writing) won the 2017 Northeast Minnesota Book Award (NEMBA) in Poetry and Honorable Mention for the 2017 Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award for her poetry collection Now/Here (Holy Cow! Press). Gibbins is also editor-in-chief of Split Rock Review. Learn more at splitrockreview.org and crystalgibbins.com.

Sara Miller ’06 (biology) was hired as an integration analyst at Discovery Benefits. Erika Stanley ’07 (graphic communications) was named chief operation officer of Pifer’s Auction & Realty. Stanley’s primary focus will be on company operations, human resources, marketing and information technology.

08 Matt Oachs ’08 (management) was promoted to assistant vice president/business banking officer at Western State Bank. His duties include commercial business development and providing financing solutions to current and potential business customers. Oachs is the current MSUM Dragon Fire president.

Kelsey Kleindl ’09 (community health) was promoted to readiness manager for client services at Discovery Benefits. She joined in 2014 as a renewal specialist and most recently worked as a senior implementation manager.

Breanna (Rubertus) Hamdan ’10 (accounting) was promoted to VP/branch manager at Bell Bank in downtown Fargo. In her new position, Hamdan supervises the retail team and assists customers with deposit and loan needs.

11 Kelsey Roseth ’11 (English and mass communications) is a freelance writer and communications consultant to companies across the Midwest. Roseth began her career as a news anchor/reporter at WDAYTV in Fargo before moving to Duluth, with her husband George Peterson 11 (sociology and criminal justice). Her bylines have appeared in international, national and local publications including Birds & Blooms, Culture Trip, Fargo Forum, Duluth News Tribune, Make it Minnesota, Minnesota Women’s Press, Northern Wilds, Outdoor News and our own Advocate and AlumnNews, now Moorhead Magazine.

Rachel (Nelson) Meske ’11 (paralegal) was hired as VP/trust officer at Bell Bank in downtown Fargo. In her new position with Bell’s wealth management division, Meske administers personal trust accounts, with a primary focus in the areas of estate administration and conservatorships.

12 Rachel (Bosl) Jenson ’12 (accounting) has been promoted to supervisor at Fiebiger, Swanson, West & Co., PLLP. She’s a licensed CPA in North Dakota and Minnesota, specializing in preparation of federal and state income tax returns for business entities and individuals, tax planning, research, and representation, and audits of financial statement engagements for employee benefit plans.

Elijah Jones ’12 (social studies education) oversees the general business operations and manages the service teams as a branch manager for the Fargo office of Spherion Staffing. He also specializes in developing client relationships, increasing customer engagement, and advocating Spherion’s professional services.

Brade Schweitzer ’12 (accounting) was promoted to audit manager at Eide Bailly LLP, a regional CPA and business advisory firm.

Zach Toedter ’12 (mass communications) and Anna Knutson-Toedter ’13 (advertising) started a clothing line and online store that is picking up steam in online sales. The couple lives in Oregon, where Anna works at an ad agency and Zach works in marketing for a restaurant group. 

Meghan Feir ’13 and ’16 (English and mass communications; publishing) had work published in both the nonfiction and fiction anthologies of “Minnesota’s Emerging Writers,” a state-by-state series published by Z Publishing House. The two books include her essay, “Life as We Know It,” and the children’s story, “The Life of Leif the Leaf.”

14 Megan Strese ’14 (exercise science, health services administration) was promoted to a senior implementation manager at Discovery Benefits. Strese joined the company in 2017 as an implementation manager.

Amanda Huewe ’15 (speech-languagehearing science) has been promoted to site manager at Flagstone Apartments.

Eric Krupke ’16 (finance) was promoted to credit review officer at BlackRidgeBANK. He expands his credit support role for the Fargo region and continues to provide solutions to consumer and business banking clients.

Tyler Meehleib ’17 (physics) joined Sundog as an associate system administrator. With experience in programming and technical communications, he assists in implementing more complex network management functions.

Tony Roetzel ’17 (advertising) is the new associate client consultant at Sundog, guiding clients’ business strategies and analysis while ensuring their needs are being met. Roetzel was actively involved with the collegiate DECA program during his time at MSUM.

18 Sara Erickson ’18 (broadcast journalism) was hired as the multimedia communications coordinator for Cass County Electric Cooperative. Erickson previously was a videographer and editor for Grassfire Studios in Fargo, and a member of the video team at MSUM’s Marketing Office.

Melat (Haileselassie) Tekie ’18 (computer science) has joined Sundog as an associate software engineer. With a background in agile development, Java language and Android studio, she brings a diverse skill set to Sundog’s software engineering team.

Zach Wigginton ’18 (social work) joined the New Life Center as the volunteer and communications coordinator after spending the summer as a case management intern. As a member of New Life’s development team, he will engage the community with New Life Center through social media.

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