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September 28, 2012

DWU to bestow Distinguished Alumni Awards, recognize donors

MITCHELL — Each year, friends and alumni gather for Dakota Wesleyan University’s annual Legacy Banquet – a time for the university to thank and recognize those who have given back to the college and their communities.

Receiving distinguished alumni awards this year are Alan ’80 and Debra ’78 (Bartelt) Nagel for the College of Arts and Humanities; Cody ’00 and Jennifer ’01 (Wahle) Hoefert for the Donna Starr Christen College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences; and Ardith Miller ’50 for the College of Leadership and Public Service.

Alan and Debra Nagel, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Humanities.

Alan Nagel began his career as an insurance claim adjuster while still enrolled at DWU and following graduation in 1980, he opened a branch office for Crocker Claims Service Company in Denver. He and his wife, Debra, started AmeriClaim, which they ran until January of this year. In 2007 he entered seminary and graduated from St. Paul School of Theology at Oklahoma City University in 2012. He is currently forming a nonprofit organization to assist disadvantaged individuals, helping them to develop successful businesses and obtain financial independence.  He uses Christian teachings and ethics to help people find solutions to their business challenges.

Debra Nagel graduated from DWU in 1978 with her associate’s degree in nursing and began her career at Sioux Valley Hospital and later worked at St. Joseph Hospital, now Avera Queen of Peace, in Mitchell. She later acquired both her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing and Certified Rehab Registered Nurse designation and then her Certified Insurance Rehab Nurse designation, working first in the neonatal intensive care unit at University Hospital and Presbyterian Hospitals in Denver, and later as regional case manager for CIGNA Worker’s Compensation. She was designated as one of 10 RN specialist/medical case manager consultants to the U.S. Postal Service reporting to the U.S. Surgeon General. Debra eventually decided to blend her medical and insurance knowledge as a medical malpractice defense investigator for 10 hospitals in Colorado and Kansas. Upon moving to Oklahoma City in 2000, she joined her husband as the CFO, and is currently the CEO of AmeriTask, which since the sale of AmeriClaim, continues to provide technical expertise to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Nagels have been faithful supporters of DWU, and along with Alan’s siblings, have established the Owen and Wanita Nagel Endowed Scholarship in honor of their parents.

Cody and Jennifer Hoefert will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Donna Starr Christen College of Healthcare, Fitness and Sciences.

Cody Hoefert graduated from DWU in 2000 and went on to obtain his doctorate in chiropractic medicine.  He served as NWHSU Student Senate president while pursuing his graduate studies.  He was inducted into the Northwestern Health Science University Student Leadership Hall of Fame and was the first Northwestern Health Science University Student Leadership Legacy Award recipient.

He opened Lyon Chiropractic Clinic in Rock Rapids, Iowa, in 2004, later expanding to multiple clinics in Northwest Iowa and Southwest Minnesota. He was also elected to the Rock Rapids City Council, and in 2009, was selected as one of Northwest Iowa’s top 20 business leaders under the age of 40. He is the chairman of the Lyon County Republicans and served as one of Iowa’s delegates to the 2012 National Republican Convention.

Jennifer graduated Summa Cum Laude from DWU in 2001, completing her undergraduate degree while beginning the Master of Physical Therapy program at the College of St. Catherine. In 2003, she was named a staff physical therapist at the Sanford Hospital in Luverne, Minn. In addition to her regular duties, she became a certified clinical instructor providing valuable training for physical therapy students in a rural setting. She completed her doctorate in physical therapy in 2007, and later that year was named manager for the Rehabilitation Services Department at the Sanford Medical Center in Luverne. She currently supervises 30 employees providing rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, cardiac rehabilitation wellness and massage therapy at three Sanford locations and 13 area schools, skilled nursing facilities and businesses.

They are both active members of the First Reformed Church in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and are also the parents of four children, Ethan, Ephraim, Ellianna and Emmalynn.

Ardith Miller will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Leadership and Public Service.
A native of Draper, Miller’s sense of adventure began early. After she graduated from high school in 1944, she went to Washington, D.C., to work for the FBI. After nearly two years there, she returned to South Dakota where she attended Dakota Wesleyan University, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and graduating with honors in 1950. Following graduation she worked as a secretary and then in 1956, she joined the United States Foreign Service and was assigned to the Diplomatic Corps, serving for the next 35 years as a U.S. Embassy secretary. Her tours of duty were in Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, the Holy Land, Rwanda, Kuwait, Guyana, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Iraq and two separate tours in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. During her overseas assignments, Ardith also taught evening classes and was the volunteer secretary for the Church Council of the American Protestant Church.

She and five others were the last six Americans to be evacuated from the American Embassy in Baghdad just four days before Desert Storm began. Ardith was highly praised for her performance in Baghdad by Ambassador April Glaspie, who stated that she was the prime reason the embassy morale remained high during the period of unrest in Iraq. In 1990, Ardith was recognized for her long and meritorious career in the Diplomatic Corps by being named the United States Foreign Service Secretary of the Year.

From the time of her retirement in 1991 until March 2007, she returned to Washington each winter to work in the State Department.  Since 2007, Ardith has continued to travel, spending the majority of her time at her family home near Draper.


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Last updated: 9/28/12