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:
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
  • Anne Farniok
    Interior Design Instructor

Women’s Softball Team Continues Winning Streak

Blue Knights have two games left before playoffs

The DCTC women’s softball team has put together a very successful season with a record of 18–7 as of April 29, 2013. The Blue Knights are on a six-game winning streak that includes four games played on the road this past weekend.

Saturday, April 27, the Blue Knights played a doubleheader, defeating Rock Valley College 2–0 and 12–6. The Golden Eagles are ranked fifth in the most recent NJCAA Women’s Softball Division III Top 10 National Poll. The next day, the Knights swept a doubleheader against Madison Technical College, winning 8–1 and 5­–3.

Bethani Athey

Bethani Athey

“This weekend, we really found our team chemistry,” said Bethani Athey, a freshman third base player from Elk River, Minn. “During the season, we have been getting closer together as a team.”

Other recent Blue Knight games include 8–6 and 14–6 victories over St. Cloud Technical & Community College April 21. The Cyclones are ranked eighth in the most recent NJCAA D III poll

“We have been able to win games against top-ranked teams,” said Head Fastpitch Softball Coach Tom Cross. “I am very proud of what our team has accomplished so far this season.”

Nikki Tiedeman

Nikki Tiedeman

“This year has been so much fun,” said Nikki Tiedeman, a sophomore utility player  from New Prague, Minn. “I am excited for the playoffs and I hope we can continue this winning streak.”

The Blue Knights play the remaining two regular season games at home, facing the University of St. Thomas JV Tuesday, April 30, at 4 p.m., and the Bethel University JV Wednesday, May 1, at 5 p.m. The Blue Knights travel to Williston, N.D., May 4 for the NJCAA Region 13 Tournament.

For more information about Blue Knights fastpitch softball, contact:
  • Tom Cross
    Head Fastpitch Softball Coach
Or visit GoBlueKnights.com 

Blue Knights Raise Funds for Youth Cancer Patient

Annual soccer scrimmages support Evan Thornton

Blue Knights Men's Soccer Team

Blue Knights Men’s Soccer Team

Evan Thornton

Evan Thornton

On April 20, 2013, Blue Knights men’s soccer at Dakota County Technical College hosted the team’s annual spring scrimmages at the Irish Sports Dome in Rosemount, Minn. About 200 fans, players, family and community members attended the scrimmages, which included a fundraiser to support Evan Thornton, a local 10-year-old diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of primary bone cancer. The event brought in $750 to help pay for Evan’s cancer treatments.

The Knights took on the University of Wisconsin-Superior varsity, coming from behind to defeat the Yellowjackets 3–2. In the following game, UW Superior’s JV scrimmaged ACME, a men’s team in Monday Division D2 of the Minnesota Recreational Soccer League, or MRSL. Evan’s father, Mike Thornton, is a member of ACME and a longtime community soccer player.

“This event was a great way for our young college athletes to recognize the struggles faced by Evan and his family,” said DCTC Head Soccer Coach Cam Stoltz. “The scrimmages fostered kindness through the sport of soccer and gave our players the opportunity to support a local community member in a time of great need.”

Evan Thornton

Greg James, a friend of the Thornton family, was at the scrimmages collecting donations for Evan. “This was a fun event and I am very pleased with the funds raised,” James said. “The $750 will help Evan and his family pay for Evan’s hospital bills.”

The latest news from Evan’s mother, Trina Thornton, reports that Evan will be receiving whole-lung irradiation at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Whole-lung irradiation is often used on Ewing’s sarcoma patients with pulmonary metastases that do not respond to chemotherapy.

Punch Cancer in Dah FaceTo learn more about how you can support Evan in his battle against cancer, please visit and like his Facebook page, Evan Thornton – Punch Cancer In Dah Face, and follow Evan’s story on CaringBridge.org. A benefit will be held for Evan Sunday, May 5, 2013, at The Bulldog Uptown from 2 p.m. till  6 p.m. Donations can be mailed to:

Evan Joseph Thornton Benefit Fund
TCF National Bank
801 Marquette Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55402

For more information about Blue Knights soccer, contact:
  • Cam Stoltz
    Athletics Coordinator and Head Soccer Coach

Jay Pivec Marks 600th Win As Head Coach

Coach Piv achieves career milestone in second season at DCTC

In January 2013, Jay Pivec marked his 600th win as a head basketball coach. Pivec achieved this coaching milestone as head coach of the Blue Knights men’s basketball team at Dakota County Technical College. The win came against Dakota College at Bottineau Jan 19 at the Salvation Army Community Center when the Knights downed the Lumberjacks 70–40. The Knights finished their second season at 18–12. Pivec’s record at DCTC is 42–19. His career record overall is 605–258.

Jay Pivec | Head Basketball Coach

“Being a coach is extremely rewarding,” said Pivec. “Everyday I have the opportunity to see young people grow.”

Coach Piv is famous for mentoring his players while preparing them for the highest levels of college basketball. “The relationship with my players develops into a friendship,” he said. “I truly appreciate being able to stay in touch with so many of them.”

Pivec is one of the top coaches in NJCAA Division III basketball history. Before coming to DCTC, he coached the Minneapolis Community and Technical College Mavericks for 20 seasons with a record of 425–115.

Jay Pivec | Head Basketball Coach

“After the program at MCTC ended, DCTC gave me the opportunity to continue coaching while building a new basketball program,” said Pivec. “I am thankful DCTC gave me the chance to reach this wonderful career milestone.”

Professional Achievements
  • Minnesota College Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (1993, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010)
  • Minnesota College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame (2002)
  • NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame (2010)
  • NJCAA Region XIII Coach of the Year (1993, 1995, 2004, 2009)
  • Phi Theta Kappa Teaching Excellence Award (1995)
  • Head Coach NJCAA National All-Star Team (2009)
  • NJCAA National Coach of the Year (2009)
  • MCTC Head Coaching Record (20 Seasons: 452–115)
For more information about Blue Knights men’s basketball at DCTC, please contact:
  • Jay Pivec
    Head Basketball Coach
Or visit GoBlueKnights.com

Tim Wynes Named Interim President of DCTC

Tim Wynes

The Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system today appointed Tim Wynes, president of Inver Hills Community College (IHCC), to also serve as interim president of Dakota County Technical College (DCTC).  His new appointment is effective July 1, 2013.  A search for a permanent president will begin early in the fall.

Wynes has served as president of IHCC since 2010. Previously, he served from 2002-2010 as chancellor of the Iowa Valley Community College District and from 1996-2002 as executive dean of grants and governmental affairs at Indian Hills Community College (IA). Wynes has served on the full-time faculty at the University of Missouri School of Law and as an adjunct at Iowa State University, Buena Vista University (IA), St. Ambrose University (IA), the University of Missouri Graduate School of Social Work, and Missouri Southern State College.

In recommending Wynes’ appointment, Steven Rosenstone, MnSCU chancellor, said “Tim Wynes is an outstanding leader who works effectively with community leaders, elected officials, area business and industry, and public schools and is deeply committed to Dakota and Scott counties.  DCTC and Inver Hills have entered into some very exciting and productive joint initiatives for customized training and continuing education that have resulted in cost savings and improved service to students and the community.  The appointment of Tim Wynes will ensure the continuity of these activities, ensure a smooth transition from one administration to the next, and help the college recruit a stellar new president.”

Wynes holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College, a juris doctorate from Saint Louis University School of Law (MO), and has completed coursework in the doctorate program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Iowa State University.

Wynes succeeds Ron Thomas, who is retiring after 13 years of service as president of DCTC.