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Alumni Notes – Spring 2022



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Editor’s Note: Alumni Notes items are submitted by alumni and are not verified by the editors. While we welcome alumni news, UNC Magazine is not responsible for the information contained in these submissions.

May 23, 2022

  • Extended Notes

    100th Birthday Celebration

    Beulah M. Kennicutt B.A. ’53, M.A. ’61, Fort Collins, celebrated her 100th birthday on June 20, 2021. Beulah started her career teaching in a Nebraska one room schoolhouse, then relocated to Fort Collins where she taught kindergarten for many years. More than 100 family, friends, neighbors and former students celebrated with her at the United Methodist Church where she has attended for more than 50 years. 

    Nursing Grads in the Family

    Sara Stoltman B.S. ’04 was inspired to pursue a degree in Nursing at UNC after she spent a weekend in the NICU with her sister’s newborn twins. Moved by the experience, she enrolled in nursing school the following Monday. After graduating from UNC, she was hired directly into the NICU at Denver Children’s Hospital. This year, one of the twins who inspired her — niece Ashley Atencio — will be graduating with a nursing degree from UNC. “UNC has been instrumental in both our lives,” she says.    

    Putting Lab Experience to Work

    Laura Gerk B.S. ’17, Holyoke, Colo., is a laboratory technician for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory in Brush, Colo., which performs disease inspections for the state fish hatcheries and water bodies throughout the State. “Getting to explore this state has been awesome for me,” she says, “as I grew up in a small town on the eastern plains.” The laboratory tests for viruses, parasites and bacteria in fish. Gerk works alongside several veterinarians, fish pathologists and laboratory technicians that have guided her and helped her grow professionally these past four years. The Aquatic Animal Health Laboratory was also recently certified as a biosafety level two laboratory — the only one of its kind. “I have UNC to thank for igniting my passio for laboratory work! I’m extremely blessed to have the experience and knowledge that will continue to aid in my success. Go Bears!”

  • 1960s

    Gus Pacheco B.A. ’60, M.A. ’65, Chula Vista, Calif., Augustine (Gus) Pacheco, published a children’s book titled The Magic Seed in 2020. His new book titled HAIKU, Variations in Life and Landscapes, was published in 2021. Pacheco retired after teaching for twenty years in the San Francisco Bay area and lives with his wife of 54 years in San Diego, Calif.

  • 1970s

    Beverly Eldridge Winter B.A. ’70, Fort Collins, retired as a CPA in 2013. She published a corporate thriller, “The Telecom Takeover,” in July 2021.

    Robert Barzdukas M.A. ’72, Greeley, a finalist for Teacher of the Year in 1985, Barzdukas was local President of the Lamar Education Association many years, Robert served on the Colorado Education Association (CEA) Board of Directors from 1980–1986 and as vice president of CEA 1988–1990. After retirement, he mentored teachers in District 6 for seven years, is a PERA Ambassador, and served as President of the CEARetired Association from 2013-2019. He volunteers at the Colorado Model Railroad Museum, and is a CHSAA Track official.

    Delores Miller Wheeler M.A. ’74, moved from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City and is serving her second term on the regional Screen Actors Guild — American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) board in Dallas, Texas. A member of the Actors Equity Association, her three e-books are available on Amazon. She has written screenplays for each and hopes to produce one as a television series.

    Douglas Hartford Ed.D. ’76, Arden Hills, Minn., has retired and rekindled a lifelong interest in photography. His COVID-inspired “Camera Strolls” and “Armchair Vacation” projects were recognized in the New York Times daily newsletters, and his participation in international photographic competitions has resulted in his images being displayed in galleries in more than 20 countries around the world.

    Pamela Stuerke B.M. ’77, Saint Louis, Mo., was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in June 2019 and serves as a priest at two small St. Louis parishes on a part-time basis. Pamela is also an accounting professor.

    Kris Harris B.A. ’78, Longmont, published a fictional satirical crime novel called Healthy, Wealthy, and Dies that follows the escapades of the Hanson brothers, conjoined twin private investigators.

    Nancy Johnson B.A. ’78, Collierville, Tenn., is enjoying private practice after years of working in mental health in Washington, Tennessee and Florida. 

    Donna Pavlick M.A. ’79, Columbia, Mo., was recently appointed associate dean for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Southern California School of Law.

  • 1980s

    Randy Mills B.A. ’82, Aurora, was awarded the “Project Lead The Way (PLTW) National Computer Science Teacher of the Year” award for 2021-22. He has been serving as a master teacher for PLTW in cybersecurity and computer science essentials.

  • 1990s

    Tiffany Alexander B.A. ’93, Highlands Ranch, has a successful corporate career at United Airlines and now owns her own real estate business with family.

    Georgee Tysver B.A. ’93, Brooklyn Center, Minn., became an inaugural member of the National St. Jude Hero Ambassador program this year and celebrated 11 years of owning TD’s Happy Faces, a face and body painting, plus more, entertainment company.

    Jennifer Givan Stark B.A. ’94, Longmont, moved into a new position in March 2020. She was previously the Meteorologist In Charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Pueblo. 

    Brian Rugen B.A. ’94, Montrose, is a tenured English professor at a private university in Tokyo, Japan. He is also a marathon and ultra-marathon runner.

    Todd Zavorskas M.A. ’94, Brooklyn, Conn., is a 2022 Greater Connecticut Honorary Man of the Year candidate for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. To date, Zavorskas has raised more than $236,000 to help eradicate blood cancer.

    Sean Mitchell B.A. ’96, Sterling, has a successful two-decades-long career in law enforcement.

    Karen Liston M.A. ’98, Brush, celebrated 30 years of teaching ESL/ELD in the Ft. Morgan school district. 

    Sonya Hemmen M.A. ’99, Glenwood Springs is the head of school at Ross Montessori School in Carbondale and just finished her 10th year in a high-quality, authentic Montessori school.

  • 2000s

    Donald DeAngelis B.A. ’00, Colorado Springs, is the director of development with a statewide nonprofit healthcare organization supporting people living with HIV and other health conditions.

    SueAnn Highland M.A. ’00, Loveland, was recently appointed to School Specialty as their newly created National Education Strategist. She’ll help communicate the voice of educators to the company, lead in training the sales team and representing School Specialty at a national level.

    Matt Wood B.A. ’00, Tacoma, Wash., was one of seven Washington state educators chosen as a 2021 KCTS 9 Golden Apple Moments honoree for excellence and innovation in teaching for the virtual physical education videos and lessons he created for his students.

    Ryan Andrews B.S. ’03, Harwich, Mass., MS, MA, RDN, RYT, CSCS, published a new e-book titled Swole Planet: Building a Better Body and a Better Earth,” a guide to help people build a body that’s functional and fit, while at the same time building a planet that’s more sustainable and equitable. 

    Dan Fuselier B.S. ’04, Santa Cruz, Calif., has published his book In Pursuit of Calm.

    Brothers Daniel Watkins B.A. ’04 and Brian Watkins B.A. ’04 have been in the spotlight in the theater industry recently — but on different stages. Daniel is a partner at the law firm Levine Plotkin & Menin in New York City. He has been named a New York Metro Super Lawyer Rising Star in Entertainment and Sports by Thomson Reuters and concentrates his practice in the theatre industry, representing leading producers, dramatists, financiers and others. Brian is a Juilliard Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Fellow and a New Dramatists resident playwright. He recently finished filming a new series for Amazon Prime called “Outer Range” as creator and executive producer, with executive producers Zev Borow, Heather Rae, and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment for Amazon Studios. The series, which premiered in April, centers on a rancher who uncovers a mystery in the wilderness of Wyoming. The cast includes Josh Brolin and Lili Taylor. 

    Nikki Smith Dobos B.S. ’06, Parker, has become a National Geographic certified educator and has been given the opportunity to teach research to seniors through a class called AP Research.

    Johnray Strickland B.A. ’07, Castle Rock, is director of Digital Marketing at Shane Co. and is now voicing radio commercials along with Tom Shane.

    Matt Madsen B.A. ’08, Georgetown, Texas, was promoted to creative director at Southwestern University where he rebranded the Pirates athletics (Division III) department.

    Duane R. Niles, Jr., D.A. ’08, passed away in May 2021 at the age of 64. He was posthumously chosen as the 2022 inductee into the South Dakota Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame, recognizing his 43 years as a music educator, teaching instrumental music from elementary grades through college-level classes.

  • 2010s

    Lisa Drew Hudson B.S. ’10, Parker, was selected and recognized nationally as the State Star on behalf of the Colorado SBDC Network.

    Alex Renteria-Aguilar B.A. ’10, Lakewood, was awarded Airport Business magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2021.

    Parker Cotton B.A. ’13 M.A. ’15, Bozeman, Mont., was named the sports editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana in early January 2022. Prior to joining the Chronicle in March 2021, Cotton covered high school and college sports for newspapers in North Dakota and Virginia, as well as professional sports for Forbes and the Associated Press in Washington, D.C.

    Michael Lord B.S. ’13, Denver, serves as Chief Operating Officer of LivWell, one of the largest legal cannabis companies in the state of Colorado. Michael has helped run, open, design and develop LivWell’s retail stores and was instrumental in the design and implementation of LivWell’s University program and online training platform.

    Kacie Thomas Merrick B.A. ’14, Castle Rock, recently secured the largest corporate gift in history for Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation — an $8.3 million commitment from Panda Express. Kacie also received a national award for management of one of the fastest-growing videogame fundraising programs in the nation and graduated in the class of 2021 from the Institute for Leaders in Development program through the University of Denver.

    Jewel Mahoe B.A. ’17, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, is the former 68th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Miss Congeniality and the current Miss Hawaii Earth 2021. She competed at the Miss Earth national competition in January. Mahoe is a doctoral student in the University of Hawai‘i at Mãnoa’s College of Education.

    Timmy Box M.A. ’18, Oceanside, Calif., was recently hired as the head wrestling coach at Palomar College in California.

    Helen Brewer B.A. ’18, Hamilton, New Jersey, graduated cum laude from William & Mary Law School, passed the Colorado Bar Exam and began working as the Legal Analyst for the Electoral Innovation Lab & Princeton Gerrymandering Project, focusing on redistricting and election law reform. 

    Alex Traugutt Ph.D. ’18, O’Fallon, Mo., is among 85 St. Louis-area educators in 2021 to receive Emerson’s Excellence in Teaching Awards, which are sponsored annually by the St. Louis-based Emerson, a diversified global manufacturer and technology leader. The annual program recognizes St. Louis area instructors, selected by their schools’ administrators, for their accomplishments and dedication to their students and the teaching profession. The awards pay tribute to area educators from kindergarten teachers to college professors. 

    Mike Conrad D.A. ’18, Cedar Falls, Iowa, founded the Iowa Jazz Composers Orchestra in early 2020 and has been awarded an Iowa Arts Council Art Project Grant to compose, premiere and record the “Fertile Soil Suite.” In 2019, he collaborated with Stegreif Orchester in Berlin on an hour-long, creative reimagination of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony called “BTHVN2020 Musikfrachter.” That same year, the USAF jazz band commissioned him to make a modern jazz arrangement of “Yankee Doodle” which premiered in Kyiv, Ukraine and was performed throughout the country on a program that featured jazz arrangements of military songs from the U.S. and Ukraine. 

  • 2010s

    Cole Cobb B.A. ’21, Wray, is currently dancing for Colorado Dance Collective in Greeley and danced at UNC throughout his undergraduate journey. He is still doing what he has always dreamed of doing.

    Jordan Good B.A. ’21, Colorado Springs is a TV news producer at KRDO NewsChannel 13, one of the top news stations in Colorado Springs. He is also a digital content creator for their website. He produces Good Morning Colorado on the weekends.

    Christina Eberle B.A. ’08, publishing under the name Chris Cross is a young adult (YA) fantasy author. Her debut YA fantasy novel, Brio will be published this spring by Hadleigh House Publishing. Brio is the story of two young musicians who must overcome their differences to save their world’s last hope for harmony-before dissonant forces destroy it forever.