Apply Online | Campus E-mail

News and Information

Campus News
Sports News
Tiger Trib
Wesleyan Today
Fact Sheet
Vision and Values
University Relations
DWU President

News Releases

May 9, 2012

Dakota Wesleyan awards 161 diplomas at commencement

MITCHELL, S.D.  — The Dakota Wesleyan graduating class of 2012 was urged to find its courage Saturday during Commencement.

Dan Duffy, a 1983 DWU graduate, member of the DWU Board of Trustees and partner in a Rapid City law firm, delivered the Commencement address and asked students to find their passion, work hard, be grateful for their gifts and opportunities, serve others, have faith and above all else, have courage, for courage makes the rest possible.

Robert G. Duffett, president of Dakota Wesleyan University, conferred degrees on 161 graduates during commencement May 5 at the Corn Palace. There were degrees given to 13 Master of Arts, 94 Bachelor of Arts, one Bachelor of Fine Arts, and another 53 students received Associate of Arts degrees.

An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters was also given to Lou Ora (Nelson) Busk Houk, class of 1951, a native of White Lake, and an Honorary Doctor of Divinity will be awarded to Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey of the Dakotas Conference of the United Methodist Church during the Dakotas Annual Conference meeting in June.

In addition to the honorary doctorates, the Clarke Award for Teaching Excellence was given to Dr. Joe Ditta, English professor. John and LuAnn Clarke presented the award.

Ditta has taught at Dakota Wesleyan since 1983 and has served as chair of the English department, the humanities division and faculty relations committee; director of the University Scholars program; adviser to the Phreno Cosmian, the Tumbleweed yearbook and the Prairie Winds literary journal; and is founder of the Agnes Hyde Writing Competition.

Commencement followed a massive hail storm which left many students and their families with damaged or totaled vehicles; but the weather did not seem to dampen the day, which began with a baccalaureate speech by Dr. Vince Redder, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

The following is a list of degree recipients:

Master of Arts degrees:
(# August 2012 graduates; + December 2011 graduates)

South Dakota
Belle Fourche – André Barnaud, educational policy and administration #
Mitchell – Danielle Foley, educational policy and administration #; John Greicar, educational policy and administration #; Philip Johnson, curriculum and instruction +; Thomas Madut, educational policy and administration #; James Pawelec, educational policy and administration; Alexander Tasch, educational policy and administration #; Jared Thomas, secondary certification and degree
Wagner – Donald Schroeder, pre K-12 principal certification and degree curriculum and instruction

Billings – Lyndon Scheveck, educational policy and administration+

Las Vegas – Yasmin Mahina Gago, educational policy and administration +

Broadview Heights – Craig Fechko, educational policy and administration
Johnstown – Jessica Williams, educational policy and administration


Bachelor of Arts degrees (names followed by *** indicates Summa Cum Laude, ** Magna Cum Laude; and * Cum Laude):

Alcester – Eric Beeler, sports management*
Brentford – Mitchell Reed, history education*
Camp Crook – Jason Lathom, social science education**
Canton – Derik Fossum, business administration, religion and philosophy, leadership and public service***
Elk Point – Danny Hutcheson, elementary education; Samantha Massey, elementary education**
Emery – Jessica Bartscher, sports management*
Ethan – Amelia Bruske, elementary education**
Flandreau – Alicia McKnight, athletic training
Fort Pierre – Sarah Jeffries, biology, psychology*
Hitchcock – Trista Schultz, psychology, human services**
Hot Springs – Raymond Rickenbach, accounting*
Howard – Lindsey Jeffrey, elementary education
Huron – Danielle Phillips, human services
Kadoka – Shannon VanderMay, business administration
Lead – Danielle Bellet, biochemistry***
Letcher – Amy Moody, nursing; Kayla VanOverschelde, business administration
Madison – Jessica Dooley, psychology, human services
Mitchell – Jennifer Bigge, nursing; Stephanie Brooks, human services; Leif Evers, business administration; Adam Fosness, criminal justice; Lynn Geuke, wildlife management, criminal justice; Carissa Hockett, nursing; Karlie Kobes, human services; Jordan Long, business administration; Megan McManus, elementary education, special education***; Kyle Miskimins, history; Sarah Moody, elementary education**; Malea Nelson, human services*; Emily Nicolaisen, English**; Ariel Ptak, English**; Trevor Salmonson, criminal justice; Michael Starr, human services; Katie Vanorny, business administration; Jordan Werner, wildlife management
Murdo – Taylor Michalek, sports management*
New Effington – Dillon Ostby, elementary education
Philip – Grace Schnabel, accounting***
Pierre – Eric Christianson, biology***; Lisa Weber, general sciences
Plankinton – Joshua Geppert, sports management
Platte – Christen Mitchell, business administration***
Rapid City – Cassandra Brinker, athletic training; Joshua Holsworth, general science; Jesse Holz, accounting; Brit Jones, criminal justice; Kayla Pahl, behavioral sciences; Skye Pahl, human services; Brooke Warne, nursing, with honors
Salem – Rebecca Knox, behavioral sciences
Sioux Falls – Megan Drake, sport exercise and wellness; Thomas Jarding, accounting; Nathan Ovenden, religion and philosophy; Ryan Poppe, nursing; Sarah Weidler, athletic training
Wagner – Justin Slaba, biology, behavioral sciences
Watertown – Nicole Anderson, theatre, religion and philosophy*; Jacob Kneeland, sports management
Wessington – Colton Duxbury, biology*
Wessington Springs – Lauren Wolter, human services


Other states

Chino Hills – Nicole Haley, athletic training**
Chula Vista – Russell McGuire, business administration
Huntington Park – Mario Palencia, history
Rialto – Marco Mora, human services
Riverside – Jeffrey Holstein, criminal justice

Norwalk – Brittany Pritchard, human services, criminal justice

Valley Center – Megan Courtois, biology

Adrian – Joey Bertrand, criminal justice; Zachary Reker, criminal justice, behavioral sciences
East Grand Forks – Michael Lukkason, sports management
Fairmont – Mackenzie Grimme, religion and philosophy, mathematics***
Osakis – Adam Maloney, criminal justice
Rosemount – William Hamilton, business administration
St. Cloud – Carina Fesenmaier, multimedia
Twin Valley – Ethan Opsahl, mathematics


Laurel – Kacie Sanderson, athletic training*
Red Lodge – Brandon Bilyeu, biochemistry

Bertrand – Kailey Thomas, athletic training
Omaha – Michael Lynch, biology, psychology
Pierce – Kaitlyn Flesner, elementary education*
Superior – Quentin Knoell, mathematics*

Las Vegas – Kelsie Fahr, psychology

New Jersey
Trenton – Frank Thompson, communication

New Mexico
Albuquerque – Margaret Mellon, athletic training

Bogata – Aaron Rolen, history**
Copperas Cove – Justin Mitchell, leadership and public service, entrepreneurial leadership
Palestine – Amanda Hargrave, human services
San Antonio – Teagan Aguinaga, communications; Noel Russell, history*

Gillette – Justin Nelson, sports management

Other Countries
Tunbridge Wells, Kent – Billy Jarrett, athletic training

Bachelor of Fine Arts degree:

Mitchell – Jessica Phillips, theatre

Associate of Arts degrees in nursing (names followed by * indicates graduating with honors):

Alexandria – Natasha Goldammer
Arlington – Emilie Baxter
Armour – Ressie Keller, Becky Koehn
Aurora – Kirk Bunkers
Avon – Kala Rucktaeschel*
Brandon – Tarah Hoyt
DeSmet – Jackie Bau
Freeman – Amanda Schmidt
Geddes – Jennifer Iedema
Hartford – Lisa VandeMore
Hitchcock – Kaylyn Gross
Huron – Chessa Boomsma, Ashley Burkel, Sara Hines
Lennox – Tasha Glanzer,
Leola – Megan Lapka
Letcher – Jennifer Sewall
Madison – Marti Schoeberl
Mitchell – Myranda Blunt, Destiny Godby, Nicole Herr, Jennifer Kriese, Kimberly Puetz, Heidi Schorzmann, Michelle Spaulding*, Colette Stadlman,
Mount Vernon – Heidi Berg*
Pierre – Angela Eide
Platte – Jenna Venderheiden
Salem – Brenda Dykes
Sherman – Jaime Huebner
Sioux Falls – Lindsey Andersen, Jarod Bruse, Amanda Christiansen*, Jennifer Donnelly, Melinda Hulit, Cassandra Keppen, Trish Kim, Marie Olson, April Poppenga, Stacey Siemonsma, Kolby Skadsen, Kelsey Wiertsema
Tyndall – Brittany Schuurmans
Wessington – Kristi Rowen
Wessington Springs – Kendra Heydon
White Lake – Summer Breukelman
Woonsocket – Jenna Olson*
Yankton – Chynna Mikkelsen

Other States
Pipestone – Katie Brockberg

Burien – Amanda Kooistra


Dakota Wesleyan University
1200 W. University Ave
Mitchell, SD 57301
Copyright © DWU
Contact webmaster
Last updated: 5/9/12