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Valpo alumni are doing amazing things across the country and around the world — in their professional and personal lives. They’re leading industries, contributing knowledge, and serving in a multitude of ways. These class notes, sorted by publishing date, offer a glimpse into their activities, accomplishments, and milestones. If you have news to share with your fellow Valpo alumni, please share it below.

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Diane Markussen ’56 Mueller, J.D., is living a very active life in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She set a record in the 200 yard butterfly at the 2022 National Senior Games meet in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in addition to holding four other National Senior Games records. She is also the fifth ranked powerlifter in the world in her age and weight category for the deadlift event.

She earned her J.D. from DePaul University, finishing first in her class with summa cum laude honors. As a member of the law firm Seyfarth Shaw in Chicago, she became its second female partner. After retirement, Diane and her late husband moved to New Mexico where she now enjoys swimming, lifting, playing the piano, dancing, and painting.



Vic Berecz ’61 has published a series of op-ed pieces for the Naples (Florida) Daily News entitled “Moments of Awareness.”


Victor Huggard, Jr. ’62, PE, J.D. has been re-elected chairman of the board and CEO of the Wilton Emergency Squad, Inc., a volunteer ambulance company serving the 50,000 residents of the Towns of Wilton, Saratoga, and Northampton, New York. Since his retirement in 1996, Vic has served his community as a volunteer fireman and emergency medical technician. He is happy to announce the birth of two great-grandchildren.


Don Soeken ’64 shares that he is still helping whistleblowers worldwide, as they are speaking out from all work sites.


Rev. Donald Marxhausen ’64 recently celebrated his 83rd birthday and 51 years ordained. The best thing that Valpo taught him was to think outside of the rigid doctrinal box of the 16th century, which got him in trouble when he went back into the “system.” It did lead him to the path to a bigger God and many years of service as a social worker and then pastor and chaplain. His daughter, Sarah, graduated from Valpo with magna cum laude honors.


Russell (Rusty) Hilst ’64 was inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame on June 3, 2023. For 54 years he taught a variety of math courses, from general math to honors precalculus, at Hutchinson High School, his alma mater. In 2010 he was named to the Hutchinson High School Wall of Honor, one of the first teachers to be so honored.


Carol Lee Halter ’65 offers greetings from Hong Kong where she continues to share the Word of God. She is also editing a book she wrote, in English “Personal Evangelism” and in Chinese “实用布道学 She hopes to finish them soon use and use them to help Christians facilitate more ideas about how to witness.



On May 8, 2023, Donna Jean Simon ’71 was sworn in as village trustee for Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is one of six village trustees and will serve a four-year term. Trustees are the governing body for the Village of Glen Ellyn.


Deanna Schoenfeld ’71 and the Rev. King Schoenfeld have relocated to Tacoma, Washington. They are proud of their two sons, Jeffrey, the world-traveling thespian, and Jeremy, an architect in Seattle. She received a master of social work from Washington University in St. Louis and worked as a social worker for the state of Missouri until her retirement in 2009. After 50 years in St. Louis, being active in Historic Trinity Lutheran and working with community service agencies, she is ready to explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest with new friends and life in a new, old home and parish.


Jane Kurhajec ’73 Wehrenberg and Bill Wehrenberg ’73 celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on May 13, 2023 with a party in Petoskey, Michigan. They were married in the Chapel of the Resurrection on this same date in 1973. Valpo alumni attending the celebration included Loren Lorig ’73, Laura Wehrenberg ’69, Candy Simon ’72 Arnold, Cathie Doak ’73 Morgan, Karen Kurhajec ’79 Schreiber, Lynda Moehling, Frank Costanza ’73, Karl Wood ’73, Bill Wehrenberg ’73, Jane Kurhajec ’73 Wehrenberg, Mike Wehrenberg ’82, Jim Wehrenberg ’77, Fritz Wehrenberg ’71.


Bob Barton ’75 retired in 2019 after 42 years in banking. This summer Bob and his wife Joan took a trip to Alaska, which was their 50th state visit. He is extremely proud of taking Joan and their two daughters, Valerie and Cindy, to all 48 of the contiguous states over the years. Bob & Joan continue to reside in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.


Denise Delgado Kuehner ’77 was recently appointed to teach violin at Bethel University in Mishawaka, Indiana. Although retired from public school music teaching after 38 years, she continues to play principal cello in Bethel‘s orchestra, cello in the South Bend Symphony and the Elkhart Symphony Orchestra, while maintaining a private studio of violin, viola, cello, and bass.


J.F. Bierlein ’78 is currently senior associate at Coley Government Contract Services, chairman of the Monte Azul Foundation, and just launched a website for his writings and poetry at He says his poetry writing days began at Christ College.



Colette Silverman ’80 was elected secretary on the Board of Directors of CareLink, a statewide Rhode Island nonprofit healthcare network of post-acute and community-based providers serving older adults and adults with disabilities. She is the executive director of Scandinavian Communities in Cranston, Rhode Island.


Joel Bretscher ’80 teamed up with longtime colleague Kenneth Haugk to write The Gift of Empathy. The book, which is published by independent educational nonprofit Stephen Ministries, equips readers to relate with greater empathy with family, friends, coworkers, and others in their lives. Joel is program director at Stephen Ministries and a member of the Valpo Athletic Hall of Fame.


Terry Wetzel ’81 M.Ed. was inducted into the Museum of Nebraska Major League Baseball Hall of Fame on July 8, 2023. He first taught and coached in Ohio, Indiana, and Texas. In 1983 he joined the staff of the Kansas City Royals and his distinguished career in baseball took off. He has spent nearly 40 years in baseball, including 17 years with the Royals, 14 years with the Colorado Rockies, six years with the Washington Nationals, as well as work with USA Baseball and the Olympics.


Daniel Avila ’83 J.D. was ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Roman Catholic Church on January 7, 2023 by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese. Deacon Avila is assigned to St. Joseph and St. Catherine Parishes in Roanoke/Nix Settlement IN. He and his wife Elaine live in nearby Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Robert Bryant ’85, ’19H was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame on October 26, 2023 in Washington, D.C. A NASA chemist and VUAA Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, Robert developed LaRC-SI (Langley Research Center-Soluble Imide), a polymer used as an insulation material for leads in implantable cardiac resynchronization therapy devices. LaRC-SI enables small, flexible, reliable leads that are easier to implant, benefiting patient outcomes. He currently holds 33 U.S. patents, over a dozen foreign patents and over two dozen commercial licenses to NASA.


Sheila E. Schroeder ’86, Ph.D., was the executive producer/director and editor for Breaking the Turfgrass Ceiling, a 14-episode series that explores everything from the origin of the Women in Turf Team to the last day of the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament. It features the tournament’s all-female turf team and is designed to create opportunities for women who make up just 2% of golf course superintendents. The series is part of Project DU F.I.L.M., a mentorship program she started in 2015 to change the face of filmmaking in front of and behind the camera. Sheila recently completed her 25th year at the University of Denver


Cynthia Anne Baker ’88, ’91 J.D. was recognized as a Distinguished Barrister by Indiana Lawyer. Her profile was featured on May 18, 2023 under Leadership in Law.



J. Michael Utzinger ’90, Ph.D., was elected president of The Historical Society of the Episcopal Church at its July 2022 annual meeting. Previously he served as secretary, vice president, and publications committee chair. He is currently the Ewing Professor of Religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.


Jayme Matchinski ’92 J.D. recently accepted a new position with Epstein Becker & Green, a national law firm in Chicago. She joins the firm’s Health Care & Life Sciences practice, where she will focus her efforts on counseling physicians and health care systems in the licensure, certification, and legal and reimbursement structuring of post-acute venues of care.


The Honorable Carol Montavon Bealor ’93 J.D. was reappointed to the Michigan Tribal State Federal Judicial Forum by the Michigan Supreme Court for a term commencing on July 1, 2022, and ending on July 1, 2025. She has served on the Cass County (Mich.) Probate Court since November 2021.


Jean Wolfe ’95, ’99 MALS was appointed dean of students at Marian University’s Ancilla College in February 2023. In her role, Wolfe collaborates with Ancilla’s chancellor and leadership team as the primary advisor for all matters concerning support of student life, campus vibrancy, student welfare, and student services.


Kurt A. Kissling ’96, J.D., of Royal Oak, Michigan was elected to serve on the board of directors for Oak Park, Michigan-based Forgotten Harvest. He is an environmental attorney and partner at Warner Norcross + Judd, with decades of experience in all matters related to the Clean Air Act and its state and local counterparts. Regional and national clients across a variety of industries rely on his expertise to address complex air and waste matters that impact their operations.


Joshua P. Berning ’96, Ph.D., has been appointed a full professor at Colorado State University in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. His current research efforts examine food access and food insecurity for at-risk households.


Lieutenant Colonel Susan E. Upward ’97 is an attorney in the United States Marine Corps and is currently deployed overseas as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate and Chief of National Security Law for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. In 2022, she received the Sea Service Leadership Association’s Marine Corps Major Megan McClung Leadership Award for her work as a published author and speaker on diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. She is currently a doctoral student in leadership studies at Louisiana State University Shreveport.


In recognition of his many years of service to the advancement of chiropractic in North Carolina, Glenn Jaffe ’99, D.C., was awarded the Legacy of the Long Leaf Pine by the North Carolina Chiropractic Association — the highest honor bestowed by the association. He completed a term of nine years of service on the board, including two as president. During this time, he was also awarded 2014 Member of the Year and 2021 Doctor of the Year.


Lisa Cook ’99, Ph.D., was recognized as an Everyday Hero by Denver7 ABC for her volunteer work with the music program at North Arvada Middle School in Arvada, Colorado.



Maryn Olson ’02 serves as director of Lutheran Disaster Response, the humanitarian assistance ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a role she has held since November 2022. In her role, she oversees the LDR global grants and programs; works with ELCA area desks in responding to disasters; collaborates with synods, nonprofits, and community-based organizations; and represents the ELCA with ecumenical partners.


Sally Messner ’02 is director of worship and music at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Livonia, Michigan, where she plans and leads congregational singing with organ, piano, voice, and a variety of other instruments. She is also the founding musical director of the Elm Ensemble, a liturgical project that brings together professional and amateur musicians with great sacred music and creative worship planning to help keep the church in dialogue with diverse voices from Christian history. She currently serves as director of music for the Institute of Liturgical Studies at Valparaiso University.


Johnathan Tsahas ’03 lives in Valparaiso, where he owns and operates Olympus Painting, an industrial bridge painting company. While at Valpo, he was a four-year member of the football team.


Rachel Wren ’04 was part of the team recently honored by the Indiana General Assembly under Senate Concurrent Resolution Thirty. The resolution congratulated designers, contractors, and the Indiana Department of Transportation for having a portion of the newly constructed Interstate 69 Finish Line, located in Martinsville, as the top road project in the United States in 2022 by Roads and Bridges magazine.


John (Chaz) Weber ’05, J.D., was ranked in Chambers USA 2023 in the area of Real Estate (Ohio). Individual lawyers are ranked in their practice area on the basis of their legal knowledge and experience, ability, effectiveness, and client service. He was also named to the 2023 Ohio Rising Stars list. Chaz is a partner in the Cleveland office of Tucker Ellis LLP.


Michael Mroz ’05 built a very successful construction business, building multi-million dollar homes in his hometown of Westfield, New Jersey. He guest starred on George to the Rescue on NBC many times and finds time to give back to his community. He was a four-year member of the football team while at Valpo.


Cassidy Kuhlmann ’05 married Brad Nykiel in Arlington Heights, Illinois, on August 8, 2020. In 2021, the couple celebrated with a delayed reception, surrounded by family and friends, including many Valpo alumni from classes 2001 through 2007. Several Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters were in attendance, as well as members of the swim team.


Nate Gordon ’06 shares that Zimmer Biomet and the College of Engineering have established a strong connection and to keep that connection strong, Nate makes personal recruiting visits to campus each year.


Meredith Garofalo ’08 was honored as part of NYC TV Weeks “40 Under 40” Class of 2023. The awards program is supported by Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News and showcases the pioneering people that are pushing the boundaries of innovation in the industry. She is a 2017 recipient of the VUAA First Decade Achievement Award and is currently a freelance meteorologist and space/correspondent with Spectrum News NY1.


Dana Dutcher ’09 and Matthew Cook ’10 were married on December 2, 2022, in Catonsville, Maryland. Valpo alumni in the wedding party were Valerie Kaufman ’09 as maid of honor and Brittni Hamman ’09 Lovelace and Jessica Kindschi Walter ’09 as bridesmaids, Luis Sifuentes ’10 as best man, and Daniel Blood ’10 as a groomsman. Over 25 Valpo alumni were in attendance.


Warren Arnold ’09 and Holly Golcher were married on July 9, 2022 in Chicago. Valpo alumni in the wedding party included Tim Kratz ’09, Ryan Kozey ’09, and Alex Ericksen ’10.



Kramon & Graham, a Maryland-based law firm, announced that real estate attorney Joshua Coleman ’10 J.D. has joined the firm as a member of the Real Estate and Transactional Practices team.


Marisa Nally ’11, a nurse practitioner at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, was featured in the hospital’s online blog, When the Provider Becomes the Patient: Marisa Nally’s Story.


Bryan Manalo ’11 is the clinical manager RN in the Department of Urology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He moved to Rush in December 2021 after 11 years at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He was also featured on the cover of the 2022 Pediatric Nursing Workforce Report.


Daniel Lewallen ’11, J.D, was promoted to partner in the insurance group at Faegre Drinker, Indianapolis, effective January 1, 2023.


On June 22, 2023, Mark Johanson ’11 and his young liturgical musicians, The Xperience, visited campus during their tour of the Midwest.


Kara Jachcinski ’11 and Evan McGuire were married on October 29, 2022 in Chicago.


John Bagdasarian ’11 has accepted the position of indirect tax manager at At Home.


Wilneeda A. Emmanuel ’12 J.D. was featured in the 2012 Black Women’s Roundtable Annual Report as a contributing author with her essay, “Reclaiming and Reimagining Our Time by Tithing on Our Time.


JR Engineering, a Colorado engineering and surveying firm, welcomed Daniel R. Clark ’12, PE, as a new principal of the firm. Daniel continues his responsibilities as a group lead for JR’s Land Development Group for its Colorado Springs, Golden, and Fort Collins offices. He joined JR Engineering in 2012 and focuses on design and construction of public roadways, water, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer improvements.


Benjamin Olejniczak ’13 was named  a 2023 Consulting-Specifying Engineer 40 Under 40 winner. He joined ESD after completing an internship program with the company and became a staff engineer. He quickly advanced, first serving as a project engineer and then as the de facto mechanical lead for ESD’s largest client. Ben is cited for his design creativity, work ethic, and credibility with clients as key factors in his rise as a leader in ESD’s hyperscale data center business. In May 2022, he was the recipient of the ESD Leadership Award.


Alex Woell ’14 is celebrating his ninth year at Apple with a promotion to a new role, digital content management, production specialist.


Chadd Reynolds ’14 was selected as a Georgia Rising Star on the 2023 Super Lawyers list. Chadd is a senior associate at Chamberlain Hrdlicka, where he is part of the firm’s construction law, commercial, and civil litigation practice groups.


Nate King ’15 married Lacy McAlister in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 30, 2022. Nate’s best man was his brother David King ’17. Valpo alumni Chris Barnes ’16, Rev. Cogan Blackmon ’16, Kyle Duff ’15, Caleb Rollins ’15, Rev. Jared Townley ’15, and Josh Wolfgram ’16 served as groomsmen and Shannon Segin ’16 King and Emily Knippenberg ’16 Barnes served as scripture readers. Nate and Lacy met in 2017 while working at International Justice Mission (IJM) in Washington, D.C. Nate now serves as director of congressional affairs at IJM and Lacy serves as director of development at Redeem International. They live in Alexandria, Virginia.


Molly Mangione ’15 and Caleb Munk ’16 were married at The Abbey in Lake Geneva on May 29, 2022.


The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has named Joshua Wolfgram ’16 to its 2023 class of Young Leaders to Follow. The 2023 Young Leaders to Follow class is composed of 20 transportation professionals under 35-years-old who have demonstrated leadership and innovation within the transportation industry and ITE. Josh says. “Many thanks to Valpo for preparing me and helping develop the leadership skills that put me in a position to receive this honor so early on in my career.”


The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has named Joshua Wolfgram ’16 to its 2023 class of Young Leaders to Follow. The 2023 Young Leaders to Follow class is composed of 20 transportation professionals under 35-years-old who have demonstrated leadership and innovation within the transportation industry and ITE. Josh says. “Many thanks to Valpo for preparing me and helping develop the leadership skills that put me in a position to receive this honor so early on in my career.”


Avery Davis ’16 is a Ph.D. candidate in education at Johns Hopkins University and recipient of National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. In his research he uses quantitative methods and large-scale data to investigate how ethnic and economic minorities navigate higher education. Specifically, he examines the extent to which financial aid programs and policies are biased against marginalized groups.


Nicole Batzek ’16 and Michael Albano ’16 were married on June 10, 2022 with several fellow Valpo alumni in attendance.


Jake Landgraf ’19 recently completed a thru-hike of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The trail connects Georgia to Maine in one continuous footpath over 2,000 miles long.



Megan Jones ’20 has been named to the Times of Northwest Indiana 20 Under 40. She serves as communications director for St. Michael Parish and School in Schererville. The Parish serves over 2,000 families while the school serves students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth. As communications director, Jones is responsible for visioning, planning, scheduling, coordinating and executing all internal and external parish and school communications.