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2013 Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Awards

Jill Surine and Andrew Chernisky personify student success

Dave Schroeder

Former DCTC President Dave Schroeder

Each year Dakota County Technical College recognizes outstanding graduates in honor of the college’s former president, Dave Schroeder, who served from 1970–1999. Students are nominated by faculty and staff for their involvement in college initiatives and activities, academic performance and service to the community. This year’s winners are Jill Surine, a 2013 graduate of the Interior Design program, and Andrew Chernisky, a 2013 graduate of the Photographic Imaging Technology program. Jill and Andy’s hard work and dedication are an inspiration to their classmates and future DCTC students.

Andrew Chernisky | 2013 Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Award Winner
Andy Chernisky

Andy Chernisky

Andrew Chernisky came to Dakota County Technical College to study photography and digital imaging technology. He knew college would be difficult because he suffers from a severe writing and reading disability. To help overcome this challenge, Andy set long- and short-term goals for himself. He worked hard to achieve his goals and was not afraid to ask for help when he needed it. He believes setting goals is what allowed him to succeed at college.

DCTC Student Senate Executive Board during American Red Cross Blood Drive (left to right) Assistant Student Life Director Anna Voight, Student Life Director Nicole Meulemans, Sergio Garcia, Andy Chernisky, Jocelyn Vergara, Benjamin Jackson, Nancy Al-KordiWhen he enrolled at DCTC, Andy knew he wanted to be engaged beyond the classroom and his studies. He is a member of the Campus Lions Club and the Gay Straight Alliance. He got involved in Student Senate, where he participated in many activities such as rallies and conferences as well as personal development, not only for himself, but also for his fellow students. He is the current Student Senate president.

Outside DCTC, he worked to help improve his community through his talent as a photographer. (Andy is a member of the Professional Photographers of America.) He had experience working for a small business in historic downtown Hastings and knew photography could help encourage growth in this area. He covered various events, including Small Business Saturday and photo ops with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

DCTC Student Senators involved in Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) (left to right) Stephanie Serres, Lina Bajiba, Ben Jackson, Andy Chernisky, Michael DoyleAs an Eagle Scout, Andy understands the importance of community service. He participated in the Hastings Family Services Walk/Run, the Healthy Knight 5K at DCTC, and as a mock evacuee for a Minnesota Department of Human Services Radiological Emergency Preparedness Drill. As the elongate advisor in charge of work crews and clans, he planned, coordinated and helped conduct a Fall Ordeal for 200 members of the Boy Scouts of America Order of the Arrow. He served on the planning committee and as a co-conductor of a winter banquet for 500 members of the BSA Order of the Arrow. He is an assistant scoutmaster to Boy Scout Troop 503. He also prepared holiday trees at a Lions Club tree lot.

An active member of Hastings United Methodist Church, Andy uses his skills as a professional photographer to assist with the promotion and presentation of Vacation Bible School as well as events such as his church’s burning of the mortgage ceremony. He has served as an assistant for Awana, an organization that helps churches and parents work together to develop spiritually strong children and youth.

Andy Chernisky is committed to making a difference in the world around him. He knows getting involved is the first step to making his community a better place and encourages other students to follow his lead. He has learned to set goals that not only advance his career as a photographer, but also improve the lives of the people in his life.

For more information about Photography and Photographic Imaging Technology at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Student Senate at DCTC, contact:
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Jill Surine | 2013 Dave Schroeder Outstanding Student Award Winner
Jill Surine

Jill Surine

A native of Belview, a small rural community in southwestern Minnesota, Jill Surine, 34, has wonderful memories of growing up on a farm. Jill graduated from Renville High School in 1997 and went on to college, attending the University of Minnesota, Morris, for two years before graduating from Concordia College in Moorhead with a B.A. in studio art and a minor in psychology. She briefly considered a career in art therapy, but decided against pursuing the field’s rigid science requirements.

Jill Surine from her video about what's next in the interior design industry | video created by Jill Surine and Amber Frandrup.Jill was the waterfront director at the Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer, Minn., when she met her future husband, Brian, who worked at the camp as a counselor. They were married in the camp chapel. Jill worked for three years in customer service at Uline, a North American distributor of shipping, industrial, and packing materials for businesses. Brian also worked at Uline—and Jill remembers how they lived for 10 months in an efficiency motel in New Jersery during a Uline facility opening. The upside was they got to travel the east coast on weekends, visiting such places as New York City and Washington, D.C.

Jill next spent three years at the National Arbitration Forum in St. Louis Park, Minn., working as a case coordinator/supervisor. From there, she served as a high school mock trial coordinator for the Minnesota State Bar Association. She also earned her producer license at Northwestern Mutual as an assistant to two financial representatives.

PTK Advisor Anne Farniok (left) and PTK Secretary/Treasurer Jill SurineBy 2011, she was settled in Rosemount, Minn., with Brian and their two children, Katy and Jack, having moved into a brand-new town home seven years earlier. She happened across the DCTC Interior Design program on the Web on a Monday, attended the next Tuesday Campus Visit and two weeks later found herself enrolled in the college, majoring in interior design.

Jill loves how interior design is a blend of the analytical and the creative. She gets to use both sides of her brain. She has always been interested in color theory and artistic design. She enjoys abstract oil painting and scrapbooking in her spare time. She mentioned that her daughter, Katy, now 8, is constantly drawing. Her son, Jack, is 6 years old and big into Star Wars and Lego construction toys.

Jill immersed herself in the world of interior design while at DCTC. She has done her networking homework and belongs to the International Interior Design Association, or IIDA, the National Kitchen & Bath Association, or NKBA, and NEWH, the hospitality industry network. She is also the secretary and treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa and the event coordinator for Design Connexion, an interior design student club. She started interning at ESG Architects in Minneapolis in February of this year. She enjoys life at the firm, interacting with people and creative problem solving. She especially enjoys working in the hospitality sector of interior design—ESG is focused on restaurants and hotels as well as multifamily housing. Jill loves the position and has high hopes of turning her internship into a permanent career.

For more information about Interior Design at DCTC, contact:
For more information about Phi Theta Kappa at DCTC, contact:
  • Carrie Schneider
    Director of Institutional Research and Planning
    PTK Advisor
    651-423-8244
  • Anne Farniok
    Interior Design Instructor
    651-423-8414

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